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Aunie Brooks
Luke 17:33, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.” NLT

It was the end of a long day, and it was time to say good night to each other. But there was a lot more space between me and my husband than just “social distancing”. There wasn’t the usual, “I love you,” exchange before turning off the lights. Truth is – it wasn’t a good day… for me.
It turns out that my Type A personality doesn’t blend so well with a global pandemic crisis. My world likes order, and right now, it just feels like a lot of order is missing. So on this particular day I decided I’d give a whirl at controlling my husband since nothing else seemed controllable at the moment. And as you can imagine, he wasn’t that controllable at the moment either. I went to bed that night feeling pretty gloomy. Nothing in my world seemed right, and I certainly didn’t seem right either.
Don’t worry. The week got a lot better. It turns out that you need three things to improve any situation:

  1. Have a birthday a few days later. It forces your husband to think good thoughts about you and forgive you. (And it’s the only time you get gifts when really you’re the one who needs to apologize.)
  2. Have a nice, long chat with your sister, who is also your best friend, and who is also a licensed professional counselor. She’ll make you feel normal and good in a matter of minutes.
  3. Go to Jesus. Humble yourself, go to the Word of God, and ask Him to reveal what’s really going on beneath the surface. You’re bound to learn something amazing about yourself and Him.

So I set out to work accomplishing these three things.
The first was easy – my bday just came on its own. And because I have a very loving husband, he bought me flowers, a book, a picture for the wall and made an early morning Starbucks run to get my favorite drink. Then I told him I was sorry. He forgave me.
Next, I face-timed my sister who lives way too far away – in London, England. We laughed, we cried (but only because we were laughing too hard and we both had to start wiping tears away), and she made me feel normal again. She shared an article with me from Harvard Business Review that described all of the emotions I had been toiling with the past few weeks and surprisingly attributed it to grief, rather than a tightly-wound Type A personality. Grief? I hadn’t considered that I could possibly be grieving anything. But as I read the article it started to make perfect sense. Grief is just the range of emotions one feels when one has lost something of value. As simple as it may seem, the loss of structure and order, the loss of normalcy, the loss of freedoms to go here and there when I want, the loss of economic health in the world, and the loss of security really start to add up. I began to realize that I’ve actually lost quite a bit over the last month – and it’s not just me. I’m feeling the magnified loss that the entire world is experiencing in this season. It helped me understand that my anger and irritableness was one of the ways I was coping with this loss – and that it’s a normal reaction. It made one of the 5 stages of the Kubler-Ross Grief Model; so I guess I’m not crazy after all!
But I knew that wasn’t enough. I knew God had more for me, and I needed to go to Him for grace and depth. And He was faithful to provide both.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we are experiencing this pandemic at the time of year that we are. It started to hit our nation right around the time of Lent. As usual, I’ve given up a few things to participate in a 40-day fast to focus on the beautiful gift Christ gave us with His life, death, and resurrection. I’m currently reading the devotional, 40 Days of Decrease , by Alicia Chole. In the beginning chapters of this book it describes the Lenten journey as an opportunity for us “to decrease, so that He may increase.” The entire purpose of Lent is to deny ourselves something of value, to remind ourselves of what we truly need – more of Him. And here we are – all of us – experiencing the loss of many things that are valuable to us. Maybe I shouldn’t be grieving these losses, but instead rejoicing over them! Maybe God wants to increase His presence in my life FAR GREATER than my original Lenten fast would allow. Perhaps a greater decrease prepares for a greater increase.
I’m writing this on Palm Sunday 2020. As I read about Jesus’s journey to Jerusalem on a donkey, I was reminded of what Jesus did when He entered the temple. He became enraged by the sellers and thieves and began overturning tables and condemning the way they had turned the temple into a den of thieves. The people of Jerusalem were capitalizing on Passover and the many tourists the Holiday would bring for economic gain. He turned over their festive distractions and reminded them of God’s words that “My temple shall be called a house of prayer.” (Matthew 21:13)
In 1 Corinthians 6:19, scripture tells us that WE are the temple of the Holy Spirit, because He dwells in each of us that follow Christ. That means your soul and my soul should be Houses of Prayer!
It’s almost as if God has shut down all of the distracting festivities we engage in around Easter… egg hunts, Easter Bunny visits, dyeing eggs. These things tend to distract us from the real truth of Easter and Passover; that the Lamb of all lambs shed His blood for us. And those of us who partake of His body and His blood will be saved. Easter is the Passover of all Passovers. And on this Palm Sunday, as Jesus enters the “temple” of each of our souls, will He find a house of prayer – or a distracted soul?
I consider this current season of “decrease” or “loss” that we are all experiencing as joy. It has increased more of His presence in my life and has reminded me to spend more time in prayer. May this season challenge you to do the same!
If all else fails, remember these three things: Celebrate birthdays, go see a counselor, and most of all… Sit at the feet of Jesus!

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