Serenity Now! “Coping with the Coronavirus”

One of the things that I’m hearing in different places from friends, family, and experts is, at times, the weight of the Corna-chaos seems to be very heavy. That makes complete sense to me when you consider all the things people have had to absorb. There was the initial uncertainty and unknown about the Coronavirus. Then came the strong measures to “bend the curve” to protect hospitals from being over-run and people from getting sick. This included 6 to 8 weeks of government-imposed quarantine in our homes, which brought radical behavioral changes to our lives: the loss of our freedoms, financial pressure, relational isolation, job insecurity; you name it … we’ve been thrown into it. So it makes sense that you are going to have an occasional “bad” day or “strenuous week”, right. I mean, we are only human, and we’ve undergone such societal and individual change, we have ratchet-ed up our stress level tremendously. The truth is that even if you run an engine on full bore for long, it will heat up and require a cooling-off period. The same is true of people.

All change brings stress, so in one sense, all change taxes and affects us. When things are chaotic, we need to employ structure and practices that help us cope. God is a God of structure. Just look at how he went about creation. There was an order to it. Each system he built was crucial in supporting the next systems/things he built. For example, the light came before there could be life, the planets and constellations had to be mechanized so that there could be a rhythm to each day. There had to be an atmosphere to support life before there could be life, and on it went. Not only did God create things to be orderly. He wants us to do the same. The Corinthian Church, which Paul helped start, was a very chaotic and confused group of people. So Paul wrote a letter to them to coach them on how to be more orderly and healthy in how they did church. In 1 Corinthians 14:33, he says, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

Another translation says God is not the God of disorder, but order. I find that perhaps one of the wisest things we can do to help us cope and not mope and to be more joyful and filled with Godly hope is by adding structure to our Corna-chaos. So below are a few things that I’ve learned and am trying to practice.


Build in routine to your day and week. Truth is our routines have been blown up with all this Corna-craziness. Go to bed at a regular time. (If you are a parent, encourage your kids to go to bed at a specific time and wake up at a certain time. This way, you are all running at similar clocks. It will also help you keep track of everyone.)

If you are working at home, try to carve out a workspace that works for you, and has some privacy. My son set up his office downstairs. My daughter pretty much lives upstairs. My wife set up a cook-station in the dining room. I still go to the office. This way, no one is stepping over each other. Try to keep designated social spaces to relax and unwind. Our living room serves well for that, as does the loft upstairs. Now that it’s warmer out, we can enjoy our back porch and hammock. Not only has this worked well for us, but it has increased our ability to “catch up” with each other, at lunch, and after work at five.

I’ve also been learning that one thing I need to do is keep active. This is something I did regularly at the gym, but something I didn’t do very much of when the quarantine first began. I have since changed that. I have set a personal walk goal of 7,500 steps a day. I try to achieve this by walking the dog, going on a walk, running, biking, cutting the lawn, doing work around the church. That has helped me handle unforeseen stressors that come my way. It also pumps those endorphins, which are natural happy hormones!

Another thing I’m starting to do is try to put limits on my work. To be honest I’ve had a lot of change through work. More blogs, more tech stuff (NOT my favorite thing), more people concerns, more unknown, more interruptions, more unknowns. At first, I just worked harder, read, studied, called, blogged, and freaked a bit more. I was concerned about the staff, concerned about my flock, concerned about the community. I try now to work ahead a bit more, honor my deadlines. I came up with a phone call process for members and decided to be more systematic with the staff, and with caring for the flock. The organization and systems have helped. I’m sure they will help you as well. You can only do what you can do.

Devotionally, I’ve begun to do restorative activities. I play the piano twice each week. I have been journaling a bit more. I have a devotional book that I’m reading, and I am almost finished with my reading on Job, which has been surprisingly helpful and personally strengthening. I also have deepened my prayer time at night. Rather than trying to get ahead of things, I have tried to simply get in the best spiritual plane I can be in. That regularity with God and devotional time, the challenge of reading and thinking deeper things, enjoying the beauty of my walks and bike rides, and firing myself from being God … all have paid off—Big Time!

Socially, I try and call my parents who are in their mid to late 80’s about 3 times a week, my siblings once a week, my oldest daughter once a week, and be more present with my family and friends. I’m doing the Small Groups weekly, and I try to connect with other pastors at least in a weekly zoom meeting, something I didn’t do before all this. Also, we try to get “take out” at our favorite restaurants twice a week. It’s a way of breaking up the regularity and supporting local businesses. I also try to make phone calls to those that God puts in my mind each day. I’m averaging about five phone calls a day! All of these things have helped me not go inward and detach.

Potpourri … Other things I’ve done is that I carry a mask, gloves, and sanitizer in each of the vehicles I use, just in case. It gives me a sense of control and empowerment. I also carry an extra shirt in the car, in case I need it. I have a cleaner and Clorox wipes on my desk, and I clean my work station, door handle, and areas I’ve been each night before leaving. When it is a beautiful day, sometimes I set up outside or by the window. It breaks up the monotony and gives me a more expansive vantage. So far, I’ve done one happy hour with a friend, which went well … more to come.

There is no “one size fits all”; for people. I think the important things are:

  • Create a routine and stick to it as much as possible.
  • Bring God and his perspective and promises into each of your days.
  • Get your exercise each day, and do activities that increase fun and whimsy.
  • Find a way to manage your relationships and your need to connect.
  • Dwell on the blessings, not the “stressing.”