Like you, I suspect, many friends and colleagues have recently asked me, “How are you doing,” as we endure this strange season of coronavirus. Of course, I’m asking the same of them.
It’s an understandable question. These are strange, unprecedented times, for all of us. We’re all worried about the virus. We’re all worried about the economy. We’re all worried about our jobs. We’re all worried about our friends and families.
We all wonder when this will end.
We wonder what the status of our lives will be when this is over.
Not to mention, lots of us have other “stuff” going on , besides coronavirus. For the moment, the “stuff,” that previously seemed SO significant, is probably “on-hold.” But, the “stuff” hasn’t likely gone away!
Of course, if we care, we ask and are asked, “How are you doing?”
So, “How are YOU doing?’ Please feel free to respond in the comments. I really would like to know!
“How am I doing?” Truth is, I feel like I’m on a roller coaster in the dark – like the currently closed Space Mountain, at Walt Disney World – not sure which high or low or twist or turn or drop is next; wondering if my seat belt will hold; wondering when this weird, wild ride will be over.
Exhilaration: Though I’d very much like for this NOT to be happening, I have to admit there are times I’m excited, energized, exhilarated. As a pastor, separated from my flock, unable to offer my usual pastoral services, I’m learning how to do ministry in new ways. I’ve had to learn how to lead from a distance, how to use Facebook Live, how to stay connected via technology like ZOOM, how to evaluate and deploy limited resources. In other words, coronavirus and social distancing is forcing me to think and function “outside of the box,” tapping into recently unused creativity, which I find exhilarating.
Anger: Today, I decided to stop watching the President’s press conferences. This situation is difficult enough, without adding boiling anger in reaction to his idiocy, and the growing temptation to scream and throw things at my TV. Besides, I need my TV for Netflix! Seriously, I’m afraid that anger occasionally spills over in other directions, to other undeserving recipients. I’m sorry!
Blessed Isolation: I’ll be honest, in some ways this is an introvert’s dream come true! Well, not really. But, undeniably, as an introvert, I’m perfectly wired for “social distancing.” Need me to stay home, and avoid contact with people? No problem! Great! Thank you for asking! Glad to do my part! See you in a few months, years, decades, whatever! It’s not that I don’t love people, of course. I do. I really, really do. But – no offense to my friends and family – I also crave and need extraordinary amounts of silence, space, and solitude. But, there are TWO problems:
- I have to keep reminding myself that people – my family, friends, congregation, and staff – still need to hear from me! I realize social distancing isn’t the same as social isolation.
- All of these #%&$ ZOOM meetings are maxing me out!
Crushing Inadequacy: In the days following the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (I lived in the neighborhood and served the closest United Methodist Church), I was plagued by an overwhelming feeling of pastoral inadequacy. In the days, weeks, and months after the shooting, I struggled with wondering what to do, if I was doing enough, what I was forgetting to do, and if what I was doing was inadequate. I’ve not found peace, to this day, with those questions. And, those same questions and feelings have returned: “What am I supposed to be doing?” “Am I doing enough?” “What/who am I forgetting?” It is a terrible, crushing feeling, in the center of my chest, and I hate it!
Gratitude: I’m thankful. I’m thankful to be well, and for the health of my family. I’m thankful to have secure employment. I’m thankful for my home. I’m thankful for extra time to spend with my wife, to rest, to catch-up on reading, to work on some personal projects, to write more, and even to enjoy some of my hobbies. I’m also thankful for friends who’ve reach out to me, to ask, “How are you doing?”
Worried: How long will this last? How bad will it get? Will I get sick? Will someone I know get sick? Will someone I know die? Will we run out of toilet paper?? Will we run out of food?? Is this the end of the world???? Will Trump get re-elected??? ARE WE ALL GOING TO DIE????? Sorry!!! Worry, you may have noticed, has a tendency to snowball and escalate.
Dazed and Confused: Honestly, with the situation changing daily, requiring new and different thoughts, ideas, decisions, abilities from me, as a pastor and leader, compounded with fears and worries, my head feels muddled most of the time. I miss the luxury of clear thinking, and focusing on one thing – or maybe just a few things – at a time!
Prayerful: Truthfully, I don’t know what to pray. But, I pray nonetheless.
Curious: I’m REALLY curious about life on the other side of coronavirus, especially for the Church and ministry, particularly for the church I lead and serve. When will people come back to church? How long will it take to find a new normal? On the other side of this crisis, what will feel important, and what will seem trivial? How will what we’ve learned about doing ministry “virtually” impact how we do ministry when we don’t need to be virtual? When we’re able, will we yearn to be together, or will we fear being together? After so many have been unemployed for so long, what will be the Church’s role in meeting their physical needs? If many lose loved ones to this terrible disease, what grief services and pastoral care will be needed? What will the world need to recover – emotionally, psychologically, socially, physically, spiritually – from our collective trauma. There will be needs, and a significant role for the Church to play. I’m REALLY curious what that will be.
I’m sure there’s more, but I’ve bored you enough already. In a nut shell, suffice it to say, that’s how I’m doing.
So, again, “How are you doing?” I really would love to know.