Knowing Your Needs in Times of Transitions
As restaurants, retail shops, and salons begin to open up, the transition out of quarantine can bring its own fears and anxieties. Any transition in life can be difficult, but after staying isolated in your home for months on end, just going to the grocery story can produce fear. The tasks that used to seem so mundane now require a constant vigilance regarding social distancing and wearing masks. So, if you are feeling more stress than you anticipated, know that those feelings are normal and to be expected.
Even Jesus understood that life transitions require grace. The Christian Church celebrated Pentecost Sunday two weeks ago, which is Jesus’ answer to his disciples’ fear of change. Jesus and his disciples had been working and ministering together for about three years, when Jesus told them he was leaving. Can you imagine? These disciples were mostly fisherman before meeting Jesus. They had given up their livelihood to follow this radical leader and now he was just going to walk away. I imagine their blood pressure start to rise and a feeling of panic in their chest as they hear Jesus’ words. What would they do next? Where would they go? In his ever-empathic voice, Jesus says to them,
“The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.”
Jesus sees the disciples fear and anxiety and responds in compassion by assuring them that he will provide them what they need for his departure.
What is it that you need in the midst of the transition out of quarantine and back into public life? How are you responding to those needs with compassion? Take a moment and reflect. When you can acknowledge your own needs honestly and respond in self-compassion, then you can begin to find a path forward and the barriers of fear and anxiety will not hold you back.
As I’ve begun to reengage in social gatherings with friends, I’ve focused on clear communication about whether we are gathering indoors or outdoors and how many people I can expect to be there. I need this information so that I can confidently accept or decline an invitation. Otherwise, my anxiety levels rise as I wonder about whether there will be too many people there to do any real kind of social distancing. Acknowledging my own need for clarity is challenging at times, but when I do, I walk in peace rather than worry.
However, even after I’ve done everything I can to relieve my anxiety about going out in public, I still feel traces of fear. Wearing my mask and washing my hands lowers the risk of COVID-19, but it doesn’t eliminate it. That’s when I remember I need to lean on the words of Jesus, “I don’t leave you.” As the famous 23rd Psalm says, “Even though I walk through the valley of death, I am with you.” We are in the valley of COVID, but we are never alone. What reminds you that you are not alone? Maybe it’s a song, a verse, a friend?
As the economy opens and activities resume, know your needs, respond to them, and rest in the assurance that you are not alone.
It’s ok to need. It’s ok to ask. It’s ok to receive.
“Until we can—RECEIVE—with an open heart,
We are never really—GIVING—with an open heart”
Peace be upon you,
Chaplain Travis Jamieson
 John 14:25-27, The Message by Eugene Peterson.
 I’m thankful to Chaplain Mary Marks for showing me this quote.