Tim’s Top Ten Tips while social distancing:
10. Keep your sense of humor
Check-out line meme: Cart #1 piled high with toilet paper, cart #2 a pack of Corona. Caption: “There are two kinds of people in this world.”
9. Respond well
Howard Hendricks tells of worrier he used to know who habitually told people, “I’m doing fine, under the circumstances.” Eventually Hendricks had enough of this pity-party and said, “What are you doing under there?” Mark Twain said worry is like “paying interest on a debt you might not even owe.” Worry is draining. On an empty tank, feelings alone take charge and reaction runs ahead of response. Before circumstances suck you dry, perhaps it’s time to ask: what fills my tank and can fuel a response rather than a reaction?
A friend of mine has a great resource called The Book of Questions. As your world shrinks to immediate family and friends, seize the chance to connect differently. I’ve been married 24 years and in many ways my wife is still a mystery to me. How might this season give you time to discover more about your very important people? Develop even greater intimacy? Get the book or if you are feeling creative, write your own 20-questions game.
7. Soothe people around you
Much of what happens in a crisis stems from the old fight-or-flight response. Self-regulate. Regulating your own emotion is square one of bringing calm to people around you. It’s a little like what I had to learn as a young parent dealing with a child’s tantrum in public. You feel many eyes on you and the urgency to bring calm. Some parents squeeze an arm or grunt-out a few threats. Take a breath when people go negative around you. Name your own emotion and let others be in charge of theirs. During the course of your day how might your tone of voice provide a non-anxious presence and soothe?
Who do you know that might become more isolated than others during this season of social distancing? Don’t just think about it. Call.
5. Personal note
Remember how you felt the last time your physical mailbox had something waiting for you besides a bill? Go and make that happen for someone else.
4. Examine yourself
What really has your heart? Uncertainty exposes where we have found our identity and security. That orientation influences, masters, and shapes us. Then, along comes crisis to reveal the shape of our character. Has this season given you new insight about yourself? It’s important to have dreams and drive. A 401k plan is good stewardship. But how much of your hope is wrapped-up in something too small for the human spirit?
3. Pick one person
We’ll look back on this season of crisis soon enough. Who really needs you right now?
2. Take a moment
What are you putting into your head and heart? I just watched a great sleeper called Yesterday, a story of a struggling singer/songwriter who wakes up after a crash in a world that has never heard of the Beatles. He has the chance to launch his career using their music. Today, many young artists are dusting off hymns that to some feel a little old school. With some creativity, they are combining the poetic depth of ancient texts with relevance of modern style. Here’s a playlist of this approach that is both Deep and Wide.
We have permission to be totally honest with God rather than trying to dress up prayers with lipstick and frills to make them presentable before they go out. In other words, pray what is really in you, not what is supposed to be in you. The Psalms are a model of this kind of prayer. The Poet-King David, for example, says just what is on his mind–even a complaint. Honest prayer bridges the chasm between him and God. By the end of the Psalm, you often can spot him starting to cross that bridge.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33