Having a tough time now that the world has turned upside down? Maybe these will help...
I don't know about you, but in this time of world crisis, my anxiety level has rocketed through the roof. This is challenging for me because I usually strive to be fairly balanced, emotionally. While it is most definitely ok to be not ok (and it REALLY REALLY is), that doesn't mean you want to feel like this forever.
Luckily, it is also the season of Lent. Every year during Lent, I put together various Christian books—about the church, about theology, about life in general—as a reading discipline. Through this process, I've recently finished several books that were very helpful for me and I'd like to share them with the hopes that they will also be very helpful to you. (All of the books are available in audio or ebook form to download on Overdrive. No need to wait until we reopen!)
[[nid:6392]] Pastor Francis Chan tackles the tricky subject of the Holy Spirit. I don't always love everything Pastor Chan puts out, but I think he hit it on the head with this one. The Holy Spirit is usually a mystery to most of us, and Pastor Chan breaks down how it works. Some quotes that I found helpful: "God cares more about our response to His Spirit's leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year" and "We all have something to offer because of what the Holy Spirit gives to us."
[[nid:6394]] I love Barbara Brown Taylor. She is a former Episcopal priest who went on to teach Religion 101 at a small private college in Georgia. She always seems to know just what to say when I need a word. My favorite quote from this one was:
"You are about to enter a period of deep unknowing which nothing you have learned will equip you to pass over. You do not know, not because you are stupid, but because you are not God. So relax, if you can because you are not doing anything wrong. This is what it means to be human."
I also like that this one looked at all the major religions, not just Christianity.
[[nid:6395]] I have been a fan of Christine Caine for a long time. She absolutely has a calling on her life. When I was putting together my Lenten reading, I had no idea that we would be in the middle of a nationwide lockdown due to a worldwide pandemic. What is more unexpected than that? But this book was exactly what I needed to read. Hear these words from Christine:
"Faith gives you courage to be inconvenienced and interrupted. The only way to obtain the promises of God is through faith and patience. God makes the promises and our part is to persevere."
These books are predominantly Christian, because that's what I am and that's where I turn when the world falls apart. If you are looking for something a little less labeled, might I suggest poems by Rumi or Mary Oliver. You could also check out the works by Thich Nhat Hanh — who I have not read personally, but he comes highly recommended. Even something like Eat, Pray, Love might be helpful. I know it was "a thing" a few years ago, but reading about Elizabeth Gilbert at the ashram might help you come up with your own mantra to get you through this tough time.
Friends, I hope you and yours are well. Thank you to everyone—medical professionals, grocery workers, truck drivers, etc.—who are working hard to keep us safe and fed. If I could, I would make you all a million thank you cookies. Instead, I offer you these words of hope.
Please stay safe...