Have you ever watched a movie that is so quotable that it seems like there’s a quip for every situation in life? One of my all time favorite movies is the comedy Legally Blonde. It makes me laugh every time and never gets old. And there is always a quote that I can pull out of it that will apply to almost anything. I mean, who hasn’t done the “Bend & Snap” in a department store dressing room just to be silly?
There’s one scene that keeps running through my mind lately, that seems to sum up pandemic life right now. It’s just after the main character, Elle Woods, goes through a bit of a crisis in the form of an unexpected breakup. While Elle sits in an aimless funk, her best friends discuss the sad state in which they find their friend:
“She had eight grilled cheese sandwiches. She stuffed them in her mouth all at once. It was so sad. We thought she’d be the first to walk down the aisle…and now she’s totally adrift.” To which her other friend agrees, “Totally.”
Totally adrift. This is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately as we idle in this prolonged state of pandemic-induced isolation. Every day looks like the one before it, starting early with working from home. The rest of the day, despite having a to-do list a mile long, I struggle to get motivated as the demands of household chores and “What’s for dinner?” interrupt any momentum I’ve gained. By the time evening comes, I am exhausted and feel like I have nothing to show for it. It feels like all the things I am passionate about and that fuel my purpose, have been put on hold in this pandemic.
Maybe you feel like I do, “totally adrift” and struggling to find clear purpose or vision, or to get any traction on your goals. Your job may look different or your role may have shifted. Maybe you aren’t able to volunteer or use your gifts in the ways you once did, like coaching for a sports team or having people over for a home cooked meal.
What I am realizing is that our purpose may look totally different than it did before the pandemic. In every situation, God invites us to use our gifts and talents to bless others and to glorify Him. When seasons of life change, our immediate purpose may also change and it can be challenging to discern what that might look like when we are limited by our own perspective.
In times like this, it is especially important to see things from an eternal perspective. In order to do that, we must be in communication with God, spending time with Him and listening to the Holy Spirit. When we do, God helps us realign our perspective and vision with His. We begin to understand that He can do wonderful things through us right where we are, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. Who we are, our gifts and talents, may not change dramatically from season to season, but how God uses them can! And it just might blow our minds what He can do.
In my own times of sitting still with God and listening recently, He reminded me of a few truths that have fortified my relationship with Him and given me a clearer sense of His presence, of my purpose and how I fit into His greater story. Spending time with God and intentionally focusing on the following things became a discipline that helped me regain my bearings and anchor purpose again in Christ. I would pick one thing to focus on for a while, and talk with God about it as we went through our day together.
1) Pay Attention. God is Present, God is Working powerfully through this. God is close at hand. Don’t miss it. (Philippians 2:13)
It’s easy to slip into autopilot mode, adopting a “hunker down and wait it out” mentality. But if you stay on autopilot too long, you just might miss some of the amazing things God is doing all around you. God will feel more and more distant as you miss seeing some of His best work through His people, as they care for the elderly, feed the hungry and help sustain communities and one another. How might you fit into that?
God can use your gift of encouragement to send a text message to lift the spirits of someone who is lonely. God may inspire you to check in with a friend who can’t leave home, and bring her something from the store. God may prompt you to smile at the stranger who looks weary and worn down and that smile may be what saves them that day. God is working! Pay attention to the opportunities He presents to you to make an impact great or small as you go through your day. And watch how He is working through others as well. You’ll find He is much closer than you may have thought.
2) Remember God’s works of the past, how He has redeemed you over and over. He has done it before, He will do it again. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
Sometimes despite my best efforts it is hard to see God at work, especially if I am suffering personally. Our human nature tends to turn inward, and seeing the bigger picture can feel impossible. Looking back on how God has redeemed my story over and over, helps me to experience His love in my present difficulties. Remembering God’s faithfulness, how He has never left my side, and has walked with me each step of the way, helps me to have hope for the future. He has never failed me yet, and He won’t fail you either.
3) Worship. (Psalm 138:1-3) Sit in the presence of God as He meets you in your need. Leaning on Him to find comfort, strength and peace. Take a look at the rhythms of worship in your daily life. What takes priority in your day? Maybe you have a dedicated time to sit with God, or maybe you check in with Him throughout the day, walking through it together as you would a friend. Living prayer is talking with God about what you are doing together. Take time to be aware of His nearness, observing His hand of providence and provision in all things great and small.
4) Recognize God is sovereign and powerful. (Isaiah 40:25-31) God is sufficient to meet our every need. God sees further than we can, and knows more about our situation than we ever will. Recognize that God is God and you are not. Don’t for one second forget just how big He is.
It can be easy sometimes, if we are not careful, to underestimate the Lord. Especially when turmoil seems to surround us, we can sometimes transfer our own feelings of helplessness onto God. But God is neither weak nor helpless, He is not absent, indifferent or incapable. He can hold the sea in the cup of His hand and calls the stars out one by one. And this giant God, cares deeply for the everyday details of our lives. He will sustain us and see us through. Do not mistake His gentleness for weakness. His power, goodness and might are incomparable and undeniable. And He is working powerfully on our behalf, even this very moment.
5) Realign your value, perspective and peace in who Christ is and the unshakable Kingdom you have access to because of Him. (1 Peter 2:9)
When we are more isolated, it’s easy to get in our own heads and our perspective becomes narrowed. It is important to realign our perspective with what God says about us. Our worth does not lie solely in our roles, relationships, or appearance, but in our unwavering status as a Daughters of the King. We have access to all the privileges, resources and benefits of His Kingdom. So stop for a moment and zoom out to see the big picture of God at work. As He cares for people and works through them around the world, making the sun rise and set each day, and sustaining the whole of the world with ease. Then zoom in to see Him caring about and providing for every tiny detail of our lives. There is no detail beneath His attention. No situation in which He will not enter to save you. Our hope and our peace comes from the love we experience from God and the fact that we are safe, significant and strong in His Kingdom.
While we couldn’t plan ahead for all that 2020 would bring, God did. We don’t have to feel totally adrift, wondering when all of this will end. We can have a renewed sense of purpose right here, right now, when we remember the truth about who God is and who we are in Him.
It is His voice of comfort, wisdom, perspective and peace that will lead us through the mess and into victory. If we cling to what we know to be true about God, we will not be shaken by circumstance, and our purpose, while it may look different, still stands. God will faithfully lead us through any season and give us renewed strength and purpose to make an impact, right now, right where we are. Each day has new opportunities to use our gifts in new ways to bless others. Don’t underestimate what God can do through the simplest acts of love in His name. We just might change the world.