Returning to in-person Church, work, and life-in-general fills my heart with joy. To be physically present together after so long apart brings warmth, relief, and gratitude.
And yet, returning to in-person church, work…life in general…it is so gosh darn hard. For many of us, there is so much uncertainty, ambiguity, and frustration. I don’t know about you, but I find myself full of questions and unknowns. Do I feel safe going back to in-person work? Will virtual options remain accessible to me? How do I navigate the varieties of physical contact comfort levels with friends, families, and loved ones? Will we ever reach a time where health and science won’t be politicized? Am I, and those I love, going to be okay?
For me, these past few weeks have been full of these questions and ambiguities, causing me stress and anxiety. And when I learned that the theme at my church this week, Urban Village Church, Chicago, was going to be about ‘truth telling’ and ‘living in community’ from Colossians 3:9-15, I knew that I was being provided an opportunity to reflect on these questions in prayer and in a reflective way that I hadn’t before. I’m excited to share some of the things that God has revealed to me in this time of prayer.
First, disclaimer, what I’m about to say completely takes Colossians 3:9 out of context. But the words at the start of verse nine, “Do not lie to one another” (3:9), stuck out to me during my prayer time this week. It connected with my experiences and convicted me to admit when I’m exhausted and worn out, to both myself and others, in this time of return to in-person life. If I don’t truth-tell with myself, and also with others, I am going to burn out.
Along with truth-telling, I need to communicate my boundaries and needs. For example, what are the safety policies of the place I’m going? Are there policies? Am I comfortable with that? What alterations can I take to feel safe? Hugs, handshakes, and high fives…consent conversations are as vital now as ever before. Care and tend to myself and my needs so that I can care and tend to the needs of others. Communication communication communication. Communication is the secret sauce to truth-telling in community.
And in this communication, I need to recognize that we are all figuring this out together in real-time. We are going to make mistakes. So grace for ourselves and others is key. And what does that look like? Colossians 3:12-13 helped me to think about grace as clothing ourselves with “compassion…kindness, humility, meekness, patience…and forgiv[ing] one another.”
But, when in doubt, I ask myself: “am I loving myself and others as I navigate this situation?” God is love, as verse 14 reminds us. So, as we navigate truth telling in community, if we operate out of love, God will be present with us.
If you take anything away from my reflection today, I hope it’s the greatest lesson I’ve learned in my prayer preparation this week: ‘When in doubt, love yourself and love others.’