Every morning I wake up, the first thought that crosses my mind lately is, “Thank You Lord for this day”. Since the pandemic of COVID-19, the stark realization that so many people have died and or dying to its unrelenting spread, with little or no warning, makes me even the more grateful for every single moment of life.
Like most people, I don’t have the luxury for very long to keep my mind on thanking the Lord for the day, as much as I’d love to lay in my bed thinking about the goodness of God. The immediate needs and demands quickly come to my mind—Zoom calls to make, writings that need to be finished, what I’m going to eat, whether it’s a good day to go walk and get some fresh air and exercise, responding to phone text messages and calls I’ve missed, emails that need to be responded to, business issues that still need my attention, checking on my senior friends who live alone and allowing time for them to talk (without rushing them off the phone), sending encouraging text messages to friends and family who have loss loved ones, researching and data collection for my next webinar presentations, perusing through credible news sources to keep up with the latest developments and information on the pandemic, social distancing, disparities of access to testing, death counts, political rhetoric, checking and responding to social media platforms (which can actually take up quite a bit of time with only 24 hours per day to work with), more calls coming in (some to check on me, others for information, and robo-calls that just distract me from whatever I’m doing at the moment). Oh, I nearly forgot about checking my calendar—the schedule of virtual meetings, reports due, webinars to attend that can give me more data, more current info on the virus, more knowledge to add to my brain for those upcoming and ongoing requests for me to present and talk about what’s going on to help keep other people informed (I am a professor, advance care planning consultant, author, and minister).
With so much to do every day, I’ve found that even though my mind rushes to consider all of these pressing tasks impatiently waiting for me to get started on—I choose to start my day with a spiritual devotional reading and subsequent bible verses that relate to it. I purposely stretch and smile and take deep breaths, as I meditate on the reading of that day. I sometimes go out on my patio and look at nature—the sun if it is out, the trees, the squirrels, the birds, the baby frog that perches on one of the slab poles that frame the porch. I sometimes see butterflies, bees, wasps, hornets, and other crawling things that remind me of God’s Amazing Creation of All. I take deeps breathes of fresh outside air and ask God to guide me with His Eye, show me how to live, teach me His ways, and order my every step in His Word.
I’ve learned that if I start my day with the calming thought of gratitude of just being thankful to be in the land of the living, and placing the immediate demands of all that awaits me on hold until I acknowledge God’s Presence, amazingly, I usually accomplish more than I could ever do in my own strength. I’ve learned that I don’t have to hear every news story or be seen constantly on every social media platform, or complete every project, or anything else that persists in my mind of its urgency for my immediate attention.
I’m still learning that even in the midst of a pandemic, priorities may need to be shifted to help keep me from trying to do everything calling my name all at once. When I get caught up in that cycle, I wind up feeling overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated, and mentally drained. As much as I want to get things done, I just don’t. I’m learning that when I start my day with thanksgiving to God for another day of life and spend the first moments reflecting on the deeper spiritual thoughts that can give me strength beyond what I can see, think, or feel in the natural realm of what is, I can live in the day, rather than be controlled by the day.