Daily Devotions

Take a Break and Relax

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Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up. (Proverbs 12:25)

It is strange, most people have extra time on their hands, but amidst the pandemic it is even harder to relax. I’ve talked to a number of people and many of them complain that they are having trouble sleeping and cannot relax. All this time to rest, and we just cannot seem to do it. Unless we figure it out, our level of emotional discomfort will continue to grow.

Brianna Wiest helps us in her article, “These Mental Tricks Will Help You Relax, Even in Uncertain Times,” by giving us the tools to unwind. Wiest warns, “Stop being so extreme about your downtime.” Sometimes we can overschedule ourselves. When we schedule our downtime, it puts pressure on us to relax, even when it doesn’t feel like the right time to do so.

Next, Wiest challenges us to “Stop thinking you have to earn relaxation.” We’ve been trained by any number of little voices from our past that we have to earn relaxation. The voices are wrong. Relaxation is as important as every other part of our lives. If we fail to relax, we become unable to function at our best. Over time, we lose our creativity and we burnout. Then, we are no good to anyone. 

Finally, Wiest correctly points out, “If you don’t choose to relax now, you will be forced to rest later.” When we relax now, we do it on our time, under our control. If we are forced to rest later, we mentally shut down and we lose control over time and energy. Today, ask God to give us the self-confidence to relax, without guilt. When we appreciate ourselves, we recognize the need to re-energize. God will lead us through this pandemic, but it will require us to take care of ourselves and treat ourselves well. A big part of that self-care is making relaxation part of our daily lives. The more we do that, the less guilty we will feel and the more renewed we will become.

Relationships Are Tough in a Pandemic

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Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

David Dennis, Jr. reminded me how tough this Coronavirus is on relationships. His article, “Marriage Wasn’t Built to Survive Quarantine,” points out that this stress is beyond what most marriages were intended to endure. So, as I begin this devotion, without any tongue-in-cheek, when I say that if your marriage is still intact, you are doing something right. Be gentle with your partner and with yourself. Understand that frustration and stress in a marriage is normal, even when we aren’t forced to be together all the time in a Coronavirus pandemic.

Dennis points out, “Everything seems fragile. The future feels like trying to grab a handful of steam.” This level of stress makes every other aspect of our lives feel fragile. This feeling of fragility creates anxiety, and anxiety is a cancer that festers within the soul, leaving us with a constant level of stress. Pretty soon, the underlying stress has to be extinguished; and, the only ones around to witness and experience the inappropriate relief of anxiety is our spouse and/or children.

We do not even mean to take it out on those we love, but the anxiety is so heavy, we just can’t carry it one minute longer. Then, we are short tempered because we feel guilty for being crabby. This is when the vicious cycle begins. Locked up together was not how we intended our lives, our marriage, and our parenthood to be lived out. Dennis reminds us, “There’s just so much stress that it feels like a strained marriage after quarantine shouldn’t be a referendum on the nature of the relationship as much as a sign of the strain this time placed on it.

Marital survival should be viewed as a success in such times. Be sure to take some time and thank each other each day. Remember that your partner is feeling similarly. Both of you are hurting and the way through this is to give support to one another. Don’t look for fair. Look for ways you can reach out. If your marriage was healthy before the pandemic, your partner will reciprocate and reach out in return, and the pressure will be resolved in a healthier manner. Do not forget to pray, asking God to provide patience and wisdom in the way you respond to your partner is necessary, especially when you do not feel you have anything left to give. Remember, your partner loves you. God loves you and will forgive your frustrating moments. Forgive yourself and give your partner the opportunity to forgive themselves, and you will not simply survive, but enhance your relationship during this time.

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