May is mental health awareness month. This is pretty important to me; for a long time, I have dealt with anxiety as well as had people close to me really struggle with mental health. It’s not a thing I take lightly, and with all of us in a more isolated setting, this could not be a more important topic to talk about. We are all built for relationship, so, the physical distancing that is needing to happen has been a struggle for many people. I’ve seen way too many folks spending all their time on Facebook and getting sucked in to this “doomer” mindset. We’re scared, we’re in the midst of something that has never happened in our lifetimes, and we are putting our faith in all the wrong places.
A few nights ago, dear Danielle and I set out to find some sunken treasure in the ocean. Okay, not really, but we did play an awesome escape room in a box game where we found treasure while solving a bunch of riddles. We found a pretty cheap game, made some pasta at home (you always need a good meal before clue solving), and put on a ten-hour ocean life video on the TV. We had an absolute blast, something we have tried to do on a consistent basis in our marriage. Fun is important to life, we all need to have fun. Sometimes though, we tend to let other things get in the way. When we do that we miss out on having fun, and having fun produces true joy; it’s time for you to create space for joy.
I was thinking back to about a year ago when I was listening to Reggie Joiner speak at Orange Conference. He made a statement that stuck with me, and popped into my head the other day. He said this, “On his way to save everyone, Jesus stopped to save someone.” I love that. In the context of what he was talking about was the story of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a man that no one liked, and he wasn’t really likable. Despite what he had done, he wanted to listen to the teachings of Jesus, and Jesus called him to be greater. God sent his son to save everyone and he started by saving someone.
“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Loneliness is a terrible feeling. We are now in the thick of this quarantine era of life, it’s a forced time of being alone. Dear Danielle and I have noticed how the days slip away and you have to create structure or time just melts. Hopefully you’ve found a rhythm, a way to make sure your mind stays active rather than become a zombie. This is a hard time for everyone. Whether you’re introverted or extraverted, we need connection, and when you can’t actively step outside of your home, the isolation turns to loneliness. Loneliness can be a dangerous place, it often leads to depression and a deep yet unknown sadness. I want to talk about this time, you may be grieving the way you used to live your life, but in this moment, know that you’re not alone.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
This scripture keeps coming into my mind.
In every season it feels like there always comes a crossroads. A time where decisions need to be made and the next chapter will begin with whatever choice is made in this moment. I’ll be honest, in my life, these decisions aren’t comfortable and often are the result of hurt. I think about how in college, I was interning and it felt like the next steps were so clear, that I would just continue into that path. That wasn’t the case, life often has a way of shifting and moving, and most of the time it’s not the way I would like. So often I used to write and preach about how God’s plan is so much better, yet during these same times I had my plan all mapped out. Things just made sense, but the truth is, God’s plan is so much better, it just means that we have to get uncomfortable to take a leap.
I love taking pictures. People used to mess with me for how much I use Instagram; it’s one of my favorite things. I don’t like it or use it to try and become an influencer, I see it as a photo journal. I get to post highlights of my life and share that with others! I don’t share my entire life on there, but it’s a fun tool I get to use with my pictures. I take lots and lots of pictures every day. I think this love of photos started when I used to get on trips or to camp and I was given a disposable camera from my parents. I could take up to twenty-seven pictures!
The main reason I take so many pictures is that I want to remember moments so I can look back at all of the meaningful memories I have.
Well, for pretty much everyone at this point, we are in lockdown. Only able to head out into the world for our essential needs; which means our everyday routines look slightly different. I’m sure many of you have learned that without some sort of schedule in your day, you can get sucked into the endless cycle of entertainment. For some, the boredom has begun to set in, working from home has become difficult to figure out with families, layoffs may have you in a state of fear about tomorrow and the coming weeks, and maybe the battle against this virus is beginning to have you lose hope.
Don’t lose faith.
This is a pretty scary time to be alive. From a little over a week ago where there were scattered stories of this virus, it was easy to distance ourselves from the reality of it, and now, it’s here. We’re in self-quarantines, learning to social distance, and being extra careful about the need to go out and how to operate in the world. It’s a pretty giant shift to culture. While it has been a blessing to many, to have time to unplug and press pause on the constant of work, many of us have the fear in the back of our minds. To be honest, I was not too worried at the start. It was a virus, I just had to be mindful of washing my hands more and not touch my face. Then more and more reports started coming in, it wasn’t just deadly for the elderly, but for people my age as well. Then Disneyland shut down, and we knew it was only a matter of time before Disney World would close as well.
The voice of fear started to get a foothold in my mind.
I really love a foggy day. There’s just something about the way light dissipates and creates a haze around everything. It makes me think of chilly autumn days, somethings I didn’t really get to experience down here in Florida. You can see in a general sense of where you are headed, but the details get murky. It’s a fun thing to experience, but only in nature. When it comes to our minds, mental fog can really dishearten and muddle your sense of purpose.
I think one of the biggest things I have observed and learned about people is that we all have the desire to be wanted. Social science, psychology, even medical science shows us time and time again that we need to have people in our lies. As humans we crave relationship, but when we are without it, we struggle. We begin to feel outcast, our mental health declines, and our well-being starts to fade. We want to be wanted, but the opposite of being wanted is rejected, and that’s a dangerous place to be.
I’m starting this off because I think this is an important concept to understand, it’s one that I struggle with, but I was reminded of the power that relationship has. Moving down to Florida was a big change for my dear Danielle and I; we knew about one person, but other than that, we were completely alone. Being an adult has challenges, making friends is about a million times harder and awkward. In school and as a kid, you just see people and say, “we’re friends now,” and it happens. As an adult, you have work, contrasting schedules, differing stages of life, and a myriad of complications that hinder building relationships. It takes more intentional steps to build relationships.