The other day I asked our family to identify a word that represented how they were feeling about remaining in the United States for an indeterminate amount of time. When we decided to stay, this was BEFORE the shelter in place stipulations. Our boys thought they would be able to see their grandparents and other family and friends. This all changed in a literal heartbeat. Currently, like so many, we have become a family in waiting during this coronavirus-19 global pandemic.
Thankfully, we are staying with our generous and gracious friends. This is a true blessing. We are living life-on-life with our friends every day. In community together, we count this time as a once-in-a-lifetime gift.
Yet, we aren’t really living a life that is known to us. It’s caused us to feel, as Jake would say, “a little off.”
Thus, I asked our family to share their one-word feelings. Here is what we all said:
I do this word exercise often with our family. It’s a quick way to gauge how we are responding to any given, uncertain situation. It’s important to identify our feelings and name them.
Actually, our family is quite familiar with living a life unusual if I was completely honest with you. Over the past 14 years of mission life, we have experienced home burglaries and robberies, flooding, cancer, day-upon-day water outages, hour-upon-hour electricity outages, financial challenges, food shortages, government strikes, and other insults upon injuries. For us, adding a global pandemic to the mix could cause us to throw up our hands and be even more afraid, ambivalent, uncertain, sad, and confused.
Our family won’t do that.
Our Heavenly Father has been too kind, too compassionate, too protective, too generous, and too loving to our family over these many years for us to doubt his care of our family now.
How do we combat the natural tendency to succumb to fear and despair in this unprecedented hour in our lifetime? We haven’t experienced a global pandemic before – this is all new to us.
We could follow the ways of this world and grow more and more fearful of our future. Gloom, doom, the-world-as-we-know-it-will-never-be-the-same verbiage could be uttered from our lips as so many are doing – every-single-day. Yet, we are Christ followers. We are encouraged to live our lives in a different way:
Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.
Romans 12: 2 The Voice
In answer to this exhortation, I asked our family to give me a word or phrase that would bring greater hope to them in opposition to their fears. How could we show that we are transforming ourselves from the inside out? We honor our very real feelings. Yet, we don’t want our family to descend into a pit of fear, worry, and isolation and be known for our worries.
We want to be known for our faith in Christ.
For two weeks now, our family has been praying through many Who I Am Declarations in Christ. I asked each member of our family to make a profession of faith as they prayed against their fears:
For Jake’s afraid feeling, he asked God to protect his heart and mind with God’s peace.
For Caleb’s confusion, Caleb prayed for confidence that God would perfect Christ’s work in his life.
For Micah’s uncertainty about his college future and work opportunities this summer, he petitioned that the Lord would work this time together for the Lord’s good.
For my sadness, I asked the Lord to bring my family the comfort of Christ.
For John’s ambivalence, John is seeking wisdom, courage, and vision for this season in our lives.
Friends, we are only at the beginning of what could be many days, weeks, and perhaps, months of uncertainty. How will we respond?
I share this “Tell Me a Word for Your Feelings” exercise and then it’s follow-up “Opposite Hope-Centered Prayer Word or Phrase” as an encouragement to you.
What would be your feeling word today?
And what would be your Christ-centered declaration?
Here is a link to the Who I am in Christ Declarations that our family is using if you’d like a copy:
In closing, I would like to share Psalm 111 with you. It is a psalm of praise. The psalmist acknowledges the Lord’s creation, the Lord’s hand of care and provision and the Lord’s exceeding grace. He proclaims the Lord’s goodness in the past and the present. I hope its words bless you, strengthen you, and bring you hope.
Praise the Lord.
I will extol the Lord with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
Great are the works of the Lord;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established for ever and ever,
enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
He provided redemption for his people;
he ordained his covenant forever—
holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.
New International Version, Psalm 111