Weeks into sheltering in place, I at times find myself growing weary of continually adjusting to new ways of doing things, changes in work and life flows, and maintaining social distance. I long to be with people more freely, to go back to old routines, to not have to breathe or talk through a mask, to be able to attend a niece’s wedding, and so much more.
When my stress and resentment levels rise, I have learned to center myself by asking a guiding question:
“What does love require of you?”
Love is the deepest and most beautiful motivation I know. Love connects me with others and to a larger purpose. Loves fills me with joy. I believe the words of that old song, “Love makes the world go ‘round.” I believe God is love.
So, what does love require of me during this pandemic?
- Love requires that I wear a mask in public
- Love requires that I maintain a social distance of 6 feet
- Love requires that I use hand sanitizer more frequently
- Love requires that I wipe down areas and equipment I share with others
- Love requires that I allow extra time for health checks at work
- Love requires that I use video- or teleconferencing for pastoral care, education, and meetings
- Love requires that I stay at home except for essential needs
- Love requires that I stay informed of daily updates related to work and the State of Michigan
- Love requires that I continue to make changes day-to-day, as needed
- Love requires that I pray for our leaders, the ill, the bereft, the unemployed, the lonely, our services, and more
A friend taught me the benefit of using my breath in prayer. Wherever I am, I can pray this way:
Breathe in love and breathe out resentment
Breathe in love and breathe out weariness
Breathe in love and breathe out stress
Love renews and resets our hearts. Love energizes us to persevere in doing what love requires of us, day by day. Deep down, love empowers us to do what is good for others and ourselves.
Thank you for persevering in loving others and yourself during this time. May love strengthen you and increase your joy.
Rev. Karl VanHarn is the Director of Pastoral Services and Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, as well as an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church. He worked with Pine Rest CPE from 1995 to 2004, while serving as a Chaplain at Wedgwood Christian Services. He has been an ACPE Certified Educator since 1998.
He has a B.A. in Philosophy from Calvin College, a M.Div. from Calvin Theological Seminary and a D. Min. from Western Theological Seminary.