How I miss the chance to see you in person and commune with you as the body of Christ together, in one place!
This time apart feels almost like what the Apostle Paul describes in the beginning of some of his letters. Paul is isolated by distance or by prison, not by virus. But isolation is isolation, and isolation takes its toll. What does Paul say to those he’s writing to?
Paul is optimistic. Why is optimism important? Paul knew what science only now is proving by research. Being optimistic is healthy. People who are optimistic suffer less than most people from both physical and mental diseases. A lowered risk of depression, decline in brain functioning, and Alzheimer’s is especially notable.
So how do we stay optimistic? I have some tips that I’ve picked up over the years, both ordinary and spiritual. First the ordinary ones:
1) Eat healthy food. Scientists have learned that fiber feeds the bacteria in your stomach, which in turn regulate your body functions. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables also help. Bottom line, eat healthy, feel better.
2) Get exercise if you can. A brisk walk, even lifting a can or a bag until you begin to feel “winded.” Exercise has been shown to be as effective as medication for mild to moderate depression.
3) Maintain your environment. People in a clean, orderly house feel better than those who don’t. The best way to improve my mood, and my family’s is to straighten up our living space. That is especially important in this “shelter-at-home” time when we are in close quarters.
4) Do a hobby you love, but haven’t had much time for lately. I’ve been baking bread and splitting wood by hand. Doing things you love but haven’t done for a while connects you with good memories, also. You remember the fun you had in the past and the people you did them with. Reading good books you’ve read before is also shown to be relaxing.
5) Reminiscing. In remembering the past, your brain reproduces the chemicals that produces some of the emotions you felt then. Remember happier times, feel happier.
6) Start a new hobby to challenge your brain. Jigsaw puzzles sales are way up since the shutdown. Knitting, crocheting, woodcarving, singing are all good hobbies you can do inside.
7) Fix up your house inside and out. Painting, redecorating is mostly possible as hardware stores are still open.
Now the spiritual ones:
1) Pray. Pray for yourself, pray for others, pray for the world. Prayers can change others. Prayer can also change us, as we become more in tune to what God wants.
2) Read the Bible. Make a goal to finally finish the Bible or reread it. Start with the Gospels or Psalms or Proverbs, expand to the NT books or Genesis and Exodus. Read the smaller prophetic books like Jonah, Daniel and Micah, or Ruth and Esther. Read Isaiah starting with chapter 40 (later Isaiah is quite uplifting). Tackle Kings and Chronicles, then Leviticus and Deuteronomy last.
3) Read other uplifting authors such as Billy Graham, Peter and Catherine Marshall, or C.S. Lewis.
4) Imagine yourself in the life of Christ. What would it be like to be one of the 12 disciples? How would it feel to be in the crowd hearing Jesus speak his Beatitudes? Spend time imagining the details.
5) Heal your memories. Relive a difficult time of your life. Picture Christ watching that time (he was). Ask him to help you see it as he sees it. Ask him to hold you and help heal the pain from those memories.
6) Learn to contemplate. Contemplation is one of the highest forms of prayer. Sit in a quiet place. Put thoughts out of your mind by concentrating on your breathing. Breathe slowly in and out. Use a phrase like “God is love” or “God, help me” over and over can help clear your mind. Ask God to connect with you, and then simply listen and be. Don’t get discouraged if your thoughts wander. Be gentle with yourself and put them out of your mind quietly. Try a few minutes of this at first, then work up to 30 minutes or more. Be patient. It takes time to quiet your mind so God can speak to you.
These are only a few of the things you can do to stay optimistic. More later. Call me for help, if you need it. 507-269-9079. Keep the faith, even in isolation!
Blessings, Pastor Glen