COVID -19 Survival Plan: Prayerfully Accepting Our Nakedness

People everywhere are experiencing how COVID – 19 seemingly just appeared out of nowhere and pulled the plug on our world’s happy little bubble bath…  We were all just relaxing and soakin’ in the miasma of daily life, when all of a sudden, BAM!!!  This pandemic not only pulled out the plug to our world’s warm and cozy bath, but it ALSO widened the drain that it covered!!!  Now as the water is both getting colder and running out faster than we ever anticipated, many are stuck and stunned…   Stunned at the true revelation our common nakedness as human beings – both individually and collectively as a nation…

It was just months ago when some were completely ignorant about the reality of their own nakedness…  There were others who had simply forgotten about it or, had willfully and successfully been able to hide/lock it in some dark hidden corner of their life – complete with a mask to cover and redefine it when it did surface… But now with the world’s plug pulled, our pre-pandemic illusion of ‘being normal and fully clothed’ has been revealed for what it really is… …And somehow, we must all come to grips with the cold, true reality of our utter human nakedness…

Even those on million dollar yachts cannot escape this pandemic caused nakedness…  With no escape, how are we suppose to proceed? What is the best response one can make in grappling with one’s utter nakedness?  As Christians we turn to the Bible for scriptural examples and guidance in this matter because it clearly speaks about the nakedness of human life­ – both its causes and our responses to it. The examples of nakedness I am using can be found at the beginning of the Old and New Testaments – in Genesis with our first parent and in the Gospels with Jesus.

Buying Satan’s Lie: Our Nakedness Reflects Our Nothingness

            Genesis begins the Old Testament with stories of Adam and Eve, where readers can find and reflect on our first parent’s response to the very real, sudden nakedness that is caused when sin/evil and humanity meet.  Whereas I believe COVID -19 is moreso, but not exclusively, a natural evil (aka earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.), there are others who believe without a doubt, that it is a moral and willful evil act that was/is freely chosen and planned… COVID – 19 origins aside, my focus today is on what our scripturally based personal and communal responses to nakedness can be, so lets proceed.

With that said, the Genesis narrative reveals that after encountering an unprecedented evil, it was the first parents’ free willed response to it that resulted in their utter human nakedness. It was their response to the event, not the event itself, which led to the creation and revelation of their own nakedness!!!  Their disobedience created a context in which their innocence was lost and they became painfully aware of their limitations and challenges – like their mortality, their mental and spiritual nakedness, etc. In short, they lost their innocence through disobedience but gained the awareness, through sin, of their real but limited creatureliness before an almighty God.

That’s a lot to handle and deal with – especially when as a ‘youth’ the first couple suddenly realized that their ‘normal’ had been permanently changed – and because of their own actions!   Some of us who boldly and fearlessly messed up in our early lives, know what this feels like… The first couple was now forced to live daily with and in the raw nakedness of their creatureliness their limited power and knowledge, their ignorance of God’s ultimate plans, their inability to have absolute freedom and the utter nakedness of being a dependent creature/child of God who is not God, etc…

By sinning the first couple lost the precious gifts of a trusting faith, real simple hope and an unquestioned love of and for God (and God’s plans etc.).  They now experienced their nakedness in a different manner than before…  That which was originally nothing, all of sudden became recast into a bad and problematic ‘something’ for them! It became something to be ashamed of, to hide and be embarrassed about and to feel bad about… In their radical nakedness, they chose to respond to it– and God – with fear: by hiding, lying, finger pointing, and blaming others, etc.

As youth, they rejected the very nakedness that their choices had created… … They failed to trust, know and have faith that if God created them naked, then God’s also had a plan and reason why they were so … …Instead, they bought Satan’s lie that their creaturely nakedness was proof of BOTH their own ultimate meaninglessness and also that God was an outright liar!!!  The sin blinded them from understanding, accepting and knowing that God is glorified and we are made holy, by freely working with God’s grace through our nakedness!

Following Jesus’ Truth: Our Nakedness Reflects Our Holiness

            The New Testament begins with the opposite example: One who accepted and lived out of  His human nakedness – as a blessing to bless others and as a vehicle to give Glory to God…  In the Gospels, the Apostles share Jesus’ responses to the human nakedness caused by sin, life and death. Like our first parents, Jesus also had a choice in how He could respond to the very real natural, moral and spiritual evils He encountered during His life and ministry. His response to that utter nakedness contrasted greatly with Adam and Eve’s, and stands alone as the human response to nakedness, par excellence!!!

Jesus’ response was to prayerfully acknowledge and to accept his human nakedness in faith and hope each day.  He did so, in belief, that His person, mission and work would not be ultimately stopped or thwarted by the human nakedness He encountered on the journey. He chose to have faith in God’s Promises of His specially created somethingness, instead of buying the lie offered by Satan that his present experience of human nakedness equates to eternal nothingness.

By rising early to ground Himself in prayer,  [COVID SURVIVAL PLAN #1] Jesus began each day by renewing Himself in God’s Spirit of Truth and Love.  This act made it possible for Him to accept his nakedness as a divine gift and also to live a response to it by faith, hope and loving service to others. Each day, he MODELED and lived the “Our Father” for the Apostles, which instructs us to prayerfully come to God for our daily bread.

He spoke aloud and prayed for the daily needs/concerns/bread of God’s people – their nakedness and his own – empowering each as he could towards the Kingdom.  Being renewed each morning, He went forth giving away that which He just received – the grace, faith, hope and love of God – though still poor, broken and naked himself.

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What was Jesus’ prayer regarding His nakedness?  My guess is that…

First and foremost, that He would and could – THIS DAY – fully accept it as both God’s will and God’s blessing for Him.  We see and read about this in the Garden of Gethsemane the night He died for us when He says, “…but not my will, but Yours be done…”

Second, surely that somehow and in someway this day, that He would walk with and be used by God’s Spirit to love and serve others as best He could – despite being ‘just’ an utterly naked creature – this day…

Third, that He would continue to model for others a powerful love, trust and hope in the truthfulness of God’s Promises more and more each day.  That in doing so, His life would empower others to reject Satan’s lies about Who and What God really is…  That in doing so, His life would empower others to accept – in faith, hope and love – their call as God’s Children…

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Living out this COVID – 19 plan is not for the faint hearted, or for those who are unwilling to wrestle with their nakedness and to bring it truly to God via prayer.

In fact, I suspect that if you are like me, some days you can’t even begin to acknowledge your nakedness until you have been FIRST bathed and lathered in God’s Love… Only then, am I able to go forth courageously accepting the naked truths about my nakedness – once again, to start this very day…

May God Bless you and me as we together, rise each morning offering our nakedness as our tithe, that we may receive that daily grace and bread to go forth nakedly, serving others in God’s Holy Spirit!

COVID – 19  At Home Spiritual Survival Plan – Step 2  – Plan Your Day

Many people find themselves at home and grounded during this pandemic.  Many of these are also finding themselves struggling to find meaning and purpose during this time of fear and  uncertainty primarily because of their loss of employment.  It is normal to feel this way!!! Why? Because whether we realize it or not, often much of our life meaning and purpose is actualized, manifested and fulfilled in or through or at one’s place of employment!!!

Yes, work is and can be good for the soul, for even a bad job often provides something that everybody needs: a community outside of their family and home that becomes part of one’s life…   Many great sitcoms and movies have been rooted in the community loves found at bad jobs that have great work communities… Even for the introverted prayer warriors, it is also often through their work community that many are able to find the people and stories – outside of their family and the news – to pray for and over…

Often, our meaning and purpose – which the Gospel speaks of simply as  loving and serving others – is often  ‘exercised or lived out’ in/at our work communities.  It is often a source from which many of our extended family members, friends and close acquaintances are often found. Losing our ‘work community’ is a very difficult reality to experience and bear and can not be completely replaced by picking up the telephone or connecting digitally with others online…

However, replacing the way that work tends to schedule, plan and give meaning to our daily and weekly life is something that most persons can and will have to work at creatively addressing, especially now finding themself grounded and at home…

Few are able to slow down enough to  acknowledge how  ‘work’ often can frame our daily and weekly lives…  This framing and scheduling of our lives by work is one manner that it veritably gives or provides actual meaning and purpose for us, that is, by structuring our days and weeks.  Holidays, children’s school lives and yearly vacations are other examples of realities that can frame the daily and weekly of our lives…

My core suggestion – to plan your day – sounds simple enough, but how can one do this without gettin’ bent outta shape and goin’ crazy?  In short, how can we BOTH live in the now of each day still celebrating life’s gift in faith and hope, yet also still work, plan, use and build ourselves up by taking advantage of this forced quarantined time?

I suggest breaking your day into four or five loosely timed sections of an hour to ninety minutes…   Sectioning off and planning each day from a common core of available options is one manner of giving, finding and creating meaning for oneself when locked down during these COVID -19 times…  Here are some suggestions…

Start your day with Prayer (see the previous article)

Grounding your day in God’s peace and love will give you hope for the day in these uncertain times. If there is any true certainty or peace to be found or had today, it is surely in God.  By placing yourself in God’s presence daily and receiving that grace, peace and love – your True daily bread – you will begin to increasingly walk in God’s peace, and not in fear, more and more each day.  It will begin to rest in you… To guide you… And to calm you more and more each seemingly different and uncertain day…

Plan for the obvious, like chores and for the daily activities that you will be doing around the house

For example, using cooking times to learn about cooking new recipes with family members… Or using it to listening to a family member’s very different music, or simply just shutting up and allowing another to freely ‘pontificate’ about their ideas, hopes and dreams… This simply takes all to agree on a common cooking time later in the day and you to begin planning and thinking before hand how all can share the activity in some nuanced way…

Plan to gather for some fun or relaxed times that naturally occur for all…

I stressed this because during these times of limited community gathering, any community that we are blessed to have, must be nurtured and cherished all the more during these tough times.  So, gathering for meals is a great time for community sharing (especially if there is a great desert to wait for at the end of dinner!)… A planned, late night cocktail or movie is another way for two busy parents to connect… You get the point…

Plan to learn something new and interesting during this time of forced quarantining…

If you have the capabilities, go to YouTube University and learn about new hobbies that you are interested in or, deepen an already established area of interest…

Plan for some form of physical exercise or an actual workout if possible

Go for walks, try a new online Pilates or dance workout, dust off the rarely use exercise equipment that you already have at home, etc. and start some kind of work out program at home!  Be determined to “wow the folks” when we all emerge in the summer (that’s not a joke)…

I have a friend with school-age children who timed the number of times he could go up and down their home’s central flight of stair in two minutes, and then challenged each of his four children (aged 5 – 13) to beat it!!  Needless to say, they got close and now want to raise him daily (lmao)!!! He’s already devised a series of small monetary prizes to keep them striving for more after they catch and surpass his total!  He has stumbled upon a fun gym class at home for his kids – and he loves the way it burns up their energy and makes them go to bed earlier (lol)!!!

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          As you now realize, one can have any number of various possible planned ninety minute sections to draw from to create and make each day, a unique and fun one with its own meaning and purpose.  The trick in successful planning, like budgeting, is to sit down and to do it beforehand!!!  I suggest mentally planning the next day the night before if there are things you know that you want or need to get done, or planning it out each morning after your prayer time…

You now have a basic blueprint and easy methodology for creatively planning your days and increased time.  I hope that it can be of some assistance in your quest to find and create daily meaning and purpose to replace that which work once fulfilled in our pre COVID – 19 days.

Now in retrospect, spend some time reflecting on how your old work schedule functioned to structure  your day and week, thus providing  purpose and meaning through its time structuring of your life.

Also, envision how you can begin now learning how to plan your daily life around what’s most important to you – surviving, loving, growing, serving and thriving more each day in the faith and in hope that is given by grace – instead of around a job.  This is one way of flipping the script on the unique and unprecedented COVID – 19 reality and walking by faith daily.

COVID – 19  At Home Spiritual Survival Plan – Step 1  – Rise Daily in Prayer

Unprecedented times require unprecedented prayer. Use the extra morning time – now that most are at home – to spiritually ground your day in God’s larger plan for you and your family, which is the Peace of God’s Kingdom.

With the onset of the COVID – 19 pandemic, we are all now riding in uncharted waters…

During these unprecedented times, what are we to do spiritually?  These are unlike any times most have ever spiritually encountered… All spiritual houses of worship are closed… There will be no Palm Sunday, Good Friday or Easter Services this year…

Yes, it is true – all God’s children who gather on Sundays are missing our graced and Spirit filled experience of being God’s body when gathered to praise and worship as one. But now, there are no homilies, sacraments, great sermons, praise parties or and after worship food and fellowship anymore…

The whole world is seemingly under siege and on lock down and in quarantine, or at least, is social distancing as we collectively try to “flatten the curve” of the  COVID -19 spread. During this time when we are compelled to stay at home – not just for our safety but for that of the greater community – what can each person do spiritually to both assist all working on the front lines as we also spiritually address our own family’s needs?

Start with the basics: begin your day in prayer. Make a morning ‘tithe’ and give God the first good part of your day as you sit down and spend a good fifteen or twenty minutes with God each morning.  And, yes – you can do it with your coffee at the kitchen table or on the back porch… Set your phone time to eight minutes, relax and begin…

During your morning prayer, first thank God for another day and all that you do have, as sincerely as you can…   Then, pour out your heart and mind to God about all  your concerns and those of the world for the rest of the time until your timer goes off.   Reset your timer to another eight minutes and then try to SHUT UP and simply, be with God…

Or simply LISTEN to what God’s Word has for you that day by praying over a short section of a Scripture Psalm or Proverb during this time… The important point is, during this time you are trying to find a way to give God equal time and for you to shut up!  In being quiet you are now learning how to hear and to listen to God in your prayer time…

Unprecedented times require unprecedented prayer. Use the extra morning time – now that most are at home – to spiritually ground your day in God’s larger plan for you and your family, which is the Peace of God’s Kingdom.

Grounding you day in God’s Peace each morning will go a loooooooong way towards alleviating and addressing some of the very real fears that we are all facing each day.