These strange days have left many of us at a loss as to what our contribution can be to help others when we are stuck at home. I was visiting with a sister coach the other day by phone and we were discussing some possible practical exercises we could suggest to our clients during these days of quarantine that could bring some hope and feelings of spiritual productivity.
First, we can take a moment to identify all our communities.
As individuals, we each relate to multiple groups for a variety of reasons. Some groups are very small, such as our immediate families and/or roommates in the same house with us. Beyond that, our extended families would be another community. Other groups we relate to may include our neighborhood, our church family, our workplace, our book clubs, our close circle of friends, and even the grocery store and postal workers we know by sight, but not necessarily by name. Of course, there are larger groups we relate to in a broader way and not necessarily in very personal, one-on-one ways, but we are still part of those larger communities, such as our city, our state, our nation, and even the rest of the world.
Identify each one on a piece of paper and next to each one, name the emotion you are feeling for that community right now. Now, take a moment to identify one action you could take for each of those groups in these unusual days of quarantine. An action can be as simple as a smile across the street or a wave at the grocery store (since no one can see your smile behind a mask). Another action could be to send a card in the mail to the neighbors. You may not know their names, but you do know their mailing address and you could introduce yourself in the note. And, one of the most effective actions we can all take is to pray for the people represented by each of the groups. Prayer may seem the easy way out, but it can involve the gift of your time and your compassion. Praying for someone you don’t know personally can heighten your awareness of the people around you and put your focus on their needs and off of your own.
Second, choose to believe that God can bring some powerful positive change as a result of this crisis.
As Christians, we believe “that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, CEB). We trust the promises of God and God’s power. We can say with confidence about our God, “You are my refuge, my stronghold! You are my God—the one I trust!” (Psalm 91:2).
One of the common experiences in these strange days of both Christians and non-believers alike is fear. While Christians do not have to fear death for themselves, they can take on the emotion of fear on behalf of others and lose their grip on their own faith. I think this is where an understanding of 1 John 4 becomes very practical.
“God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them. . . . There is no fear in love, but perfect loves drives out fear. . . . We love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:16b, 18-19).
During these days of great fear on so many levels: physical illness, financial crisis, economic devastation, etc., this is a time when God’s perfect love can be expressed by us in tangible ways. Providing food for an elderly person, gift cards for health care and other community workers and their families, a word of encouragement for that grocery store clerk or fast food worker. I truly believe we can banish fear by exhibiting and expressing God’s love in new and tangible ways. If one of the results of this crisis is that we all know at least one new neighbor and have a need to look out for one more person, then the world will emerge a more loving place after this quarantine. No one can help everyone, but each of us can help someone.
Third, begin now to express what you appreciate about face-to-face, in-person communication.
What makes it so special to be in the same room with another person? What exactly are you missing about getting together with friends? What can we choose now not to take for granted later when we emerge from this pandemic crisis?
I believe each of these exercises will give us pause, a listening ear—to our own hearts and minds—and a more attentive heart to those closest to us. Our forced moment of stillness, which we have all been craving for years, might help us hear a new song in the silence. For it’s only in the silence that we can hear THE still, small voice. And isn’t that what coaching is all about—helping our clients hear and understand the Spirit’s nudging within themselves?
Laura Savage-Rains, EdD
About the Author
Dr. Laura Savage-Rains is an award-winning speaker, a leadership and ministry coach, and founder of WomensMinistryCoach.com. She is the author of the multi-award-winning book God Chose a Woman First. Laura earned a doctorate in education and a master’s in women’s studies from The University of Alabama, a master’s in communication from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a bachelor’s in education from Houston Baptist University. She has taught in churches, universities, and seminaries in four countries. She has served in many areas of ministry including the local church, national ministries, and overseas missions. She met her husband on eHarmony.com and they make their home in Lakeway, TX, just outside of Austin. She can be contacted at Laura@womensministrycoach.com