“When we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again.” 1 Thes. 2:17–18a
The words of the Apostle Paul resonate deeply within me during this time of social distancing. I feel, literally, like we've been "torn away" from one another. While we thank God for technology that is available so we can continue to connect, it doesn't take the place of face-to-face, person to person ministry. That is a painful fact.
I uncomfortable in what people are calling, 'the new normal.' There is nothing 'normal' about being separated from one another; we are not created to live in isolation. There is nothing normal about living with continual underlying anxiety, or having to sanitize our groceries (if we can get groceries), or gun shops being designated 'essential' while houses of worship remain closed. There is nothing normal about taking our temperatures every day, or taking a deep breath each morning to see if we can hold it for ten seconds, or to gasp in fear at every stray cough.
During times of anxiety, we are used to rallying together. We're used to holding on to one another as we worry or hugging one another even as we weep. It brings comfort to our minds and hearts, but also to our physical bodies.
So with this gift of physical contact taken from us, albeit temporarily, we must name it for what it is... grief. We name it, not to give it power, but so that we can recognize it for what it is, and care for ourselves appropriately.
During times of sadness, fear, stress, and crisis, we are often under the misconception that we should put on a smile, keep our chin(s) up, hang in there. After all, the feelings we have underneath are scary, and we don't often know how to handle them. But when we repress our feelings, or push them down in order to 'keep it together,' we set our heart and soul up for exhaustion and even damage.
Jesus tells us, "“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted” Mt. 5:19. When we can muster the courage to name our fears and release them to God; name our grief and all of those feelings of being torn away from each other; name and release the deepest most painful part of our suffering, God's healing power and gentle comforting can begin.
May God give you grace and peace. 1 Thes. 1:1b -Pastor Linda