Finding Hope in a Dark Place
by Christine Carter
“For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.” (Ps. 71:5)
I was wondering how you have been spending your days. I ask this question because I am learning to pay more attention myself to how I am spending the days God gives me. I know I could do better with them.
I know that you may have heard countless times in recent weeks that this time we are experiencing globally is unprecedented. This word is getting a lot of use lately to talk about something that has never happened to us before, a worldwide pandemic. The world doesn’t know how to respond, and neither do we. The news is tough to watch.
Before I was laid off, I was constantly looking at updates, and as the situation has progressed, I don’t want to look at it at all. I know you can relate, because we are all in the same boat.
And as we wait inside our homes, not knowing how long this will continue, all we can do is our best with the time we have right now, and hope that better days are ahead.
Some things that I have done during my time at home that did not help me: overeating junk food, having no structure at all in my days, watching too much CNN, binge watching Netflix, not getting showered or dressed for the day, and scrolling through Facebook too much. Again, I know you can relate. These pastimes are familiar to many, and with more time on our hands than usual, we learn as we go.
Many of us are used to having structure built into our days with a job away from home, and the kids in school. Usually we are away from our families throughout the day and come together again in the evening after spending our days mostly apart. And this lockdown has changed the way many of us live our lives, for the time being. We may need to intentionally build some structure into our current routine if it is not already there.
What I am learning is that anxiety will not improve by doing the things in the list above. If I feed into fear of the unknown, the statistics in the news, or the posts of others on social media, I can become overwhelmed.
Some things I have done during this time that have helped me:
1) Journaling: This has been a real help to get some of my thoughts out and give them to God. Sometimes just putting them on paper allows us to mentally draw conclusions that we would not have had we just allowed them to take up space in our minds and make us anxious.
2) Devotions: The more I take the time to do this the more peace I have. I use the Daily Bread devotional that is given out free at all churches that I have been to. They will also send it out to you in the mail for free. Proverbs 31 Ministries has great daily devotionals online that are also free. You can sign up to get them sent to your email.
3) Reading: I love reading fiction for a bit of escape into another world, to forget about the real world for a while. Also, I have required reading for a Psych course I am currently taking toward finishing my degree.
4) Creative Projects: For me this is getting back to drawing and watercolors. Sometimes I like doing sewing projects. I have some cloth masks I can make courtesy of my mother-in-law bringing me supplies.
5) Walking: I have walked by myself and with my son in my neighborhood, and even went on a bike ride with my son and nephew around the block.
6) Sitting Outside: Having a cup of coffee or tea outside on the patio, or just simply getting fresh air. This does wonders to lift my spirits and clear my head, and just breathe.
7) Self-Care: Getting showered and dressed even if I am not going anywhere. This brings some normalcy to the day, and gives me time to take care of myself.
8) Sleeping: Try to keep a normal sleep schedule. This can be a challenge, but if you have a spouse working from home and you are laid off you can get up and make breakfast and eat with them.
9) Grace: Forgive yourself if you fail at this. This IS an unprecedented time and we have never done this before.
10) Prayer: This is always essential, especially now. I pray that you all have good health, peace and well-being. I pray for those who are sick to be healed, and for those who are experiencing loss to be comforted as only God can do.
Even though this is a difficult time, it is still the time God has given us. He has instilled in us a sense of purpose, and a need for structure and balance. We all have been thrown off kilter by the current circumstances, but there are things we can do to make this time easier, and this can give us a sense of ‘comfort on the way to comfort’ and ‘peace on the way to peace’. (Sarah McLachlan)
I Peter 5:10: “And the God of all Grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
About the Author
Christine Carter is a working mom of a 12-year-old active son Marquis and has been married to her best friend Brent Carter for almost 15 years.
She attends Bethel: the Church at Philadelphia Mills, where she has been attending for almost 12 years.
She is currently a Quality Assurance Specialist at Gate 1 Travel in Fort Washington, PA. She resides in Levittown, PA, where she has lived for most of her life.
She is currently attending John Brown University’s online program where she is working on finishing a Psychology Degree which she began at JBU in NW Arkansas in the 1990s. She expects to graduate in May 2021.
She has always enjoyed writing, and poetry has been her method of choice. She believes that if you have a talent or a gift from God, or a desire to be used for His kingdom, He will make a way. You simply need to be willing.
You can read Christine’s Diary of a Prodigal Daughter column on the 3rd Friday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.