Can anything good come out of the pandemic? It is so hard to articulate the thought when so many deaths are at the forefront and unfortunately, the numbers are rising. I lament, 4,243,696 people have died so far from the Covid-19 outbreak as of August 02, 20,21, 12:32 GMT. “How long, oh Lord?”
I appreciate the slower pace the pandemic brought to my life. I was too busy, my calendar was filled, my suitcase always packed and ready to go, but the pandemic said pause. Selah
Two weeks ago today, Meredith Stone and I journeyed with 28 other women to the Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman, Alabama. The Benedictine Sisters blessed my soul. To think that there are women praying constantly all day/ every day for the world gives me great comfort in this season of lamenting. I spent time in this sacred place praying for my courage to say no. “No, I can’t come to this event. I know how much it means to you, but physically, spiritual, and emotionally, I won’t be present. No, I can’t accept this engagement. As much as you mean to me, the preparation is going to increase my blood pressure, cause sleepless nights, and take time away from Sabbath rest.”
Saying no has never been easy for me but don’t miss hearing my cry. I won’t always say no. If I always say no, I would be neglecting God‘s plan and purpose for my life. As Sister Edith beautifully stated when she met with our mentoring group, “When Juanita rings (the name for her cell phone) it reminds me that Jesus is calling. There is someone in need. Hospitality demands my attention.” I have learned from the sisters that I can’t always say no because that would mean ignoring God’s call.
If there’s anything good I can say happened in my life during the pandemic is that I learned to slow down. I am thankful for Simone Biles and her recent decision to take a step back from Olympic competition for her emotional well-being. I had just had a conversation with Meredith a few weeks ago about my desire to do better about saying “no” in 2022. My 2021 calendar “is what it is” and I firmly believe in honoring commitments already made; but I discussed with Meredith how I desire to enter 2022 differently. I want to prayerfully consider engagements in order to avoid overloading my calendar and neglecting my emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.
Last week, Simone Biles did what Naomi Osaka, Michael Phelps, and others before had done. They all said, “no.” They took a moment to say, “I need to take care of myself.” It sounds selfish because we haven’t been taught to respond in such a way. We haven’t taken mental health issues seriously. I am thankful “The Goat” is changing the narrative and helped me to develop “my pandemic plan” for securing my personal well-being.
- I can’t get out of bed without seeking the face of God through the daily readings of scripture. I was also inspired by the Sisters at Sacred Heart Monastery to incorporate The Rule of St. Benedict.
- I need to move. Not to a new home, but I need to get up and move constantly. My Apple Watch is my BFF who constantly reminds me to move, stand, and breathe. Daily, I seek to be “The Lord of the Rings” on my Apple Watch. If you work from home, you need to remind yourself to move!
- I recognize that my 51-year-old body is a lot different from my 31-year-old body. I am the best physician when it comes to my body and I know what she needs. I have also invested in Noom which helps me to psychologically understand my eating habits, emotions, and choices. #NoomNerd
- I meet monthly with Julie Long, a certified life coach, who helps me process ways to say “no” and how to be my true authentic self. Reach out to Julie, she will bless you.
- Lastly, one of the greatest lessons I learned during the pandemic is that I need people in my life. Not just people that look like me. (My Facebook friends list affirms this!) I need my Hindu neighbors. I need my pastor’s cohort that encourages me. I need a break from television and petty politics. I need my new friends at 5 AM Boot Camp! I still need to travel and have encounters with celebrities. There are just some things I’m not giving up!
- I need Baptist Women in Ministry that helps me to be a Boss Baptist Woman and mentor but I also need the amazing participants we have in BWIM’s mentoring program who I learn from each day.
- Most of all, I need YOU! You who desire peace. You who desire positive energy. You who desire to speak the truth in love. Let us strive to be the best version of ourselves by taking care of ourselves and each other! It’s okay if you tell me no. I want “us” to win the Wellness Gold Medal!
So, I ask you in advance to help me and pray for me. I may tell you “no” in 2022 (and 2021), but it will only be because emotionally, spiritually, and physically I am overwhelmed. I know it will still eat at me on the inside to tell you no, but I will strive to remind myself of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
Lynn Brinkley is the associate director at Baptist Women in Ministry.