beloved

Heart 2 Heart

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By Heather Garner

The palm trees were swaying, the sunlight peeping through them perfectly, a pelican was hanging out near the pier by the water, as my son and I drove through my favorite park. This quiet place is where I go for “soul time.” I walk, take pictures, read, and journal. My family of five has spent countless Saturdays here playing basketball, swinging at the playground, picnicking, fishing and even kayaking. 

However, today was eerily different. We are about three weeks into the Covid19 pandemic. There is a police officer on duty at the park entrance and all of the picnic tables and playground equipment are barricaded with bright yellow caution tape. As we sat safely in our car, having  lunch, a lump welled up in my throat and it was not from the cheeseburger I was eating.  A cloud of fear and worry and sadness came over me. My son sensed something was bothering me and asked; “So, how are you, Mom?” I told him “I’m a bit sad that we can’t have a picnic and play at the park.” He just replied with an empathetic smile; “Remember when we brought Sam (our 90 lb lab) and he jumped in the water? “Or the time we played on the dock and I lost my shoe in the water and Dad had to use his fishing rod to catch it?” JT and I laughed about the fun, silly times and enjoyed the rest of our lunch hour, moving forward with our day.

A few thousand years prior, Paul talks to his spiritual son, Timothy, in his heartfelt letter. He says; “For God did not give us the spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but {he has given us a spirit} of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline {abilities that result in a calm, well-mind and self-control.}”  (2 Timothy 1:7 AMP)

Paul greets him this way; “to Timothy, my BELOVED son,: Grace, mercy, and peace (inner calm and spiritual well-being) from God the Father and Christ Jesus.” 

Paul spends a considerable amount of time encouraging Timothy in his personal spiritual journey and in his perseverance through hardships with:

  – guidance

 –  respect

 –  encouragement

  – appreciation

  – and LOVE.

After all, Paul had his fair share of rough times. He was temporarily blinded, beaten, spit on, imprisoned for a least two years while he wrote four epistles, and the Bible records that he was on house arrest as well. He could probably eat the Coronavirus for breakfast.  No hand sanitizer needed. LOL. Paul was tough but he also empathized and cared for Timothy.  What is empathy? The simple definition of empathy is ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.’ Synonyms for it are closeness, togetherness, awareness, or sensitive to.

When Paul says ‘God has not given us the spirit of fear’, he wasn’t demanding that Timothy “toughen up” and not show any emotion of fear, he is saying I know it can be scary. Be honest about your fears and face them. Trust in the goodness of Jesus. Stay grounded in hope. And go serve and LOVE others. There is no fear in LOVE because perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)

We all have stress responses. We all respond and process this life-changing event in different ways. News and the crisis in our world right now can be extremely disorienting.  It can even feel surreal. Like yellow caution tape on the monkey bars. For me, I “plug along” by helping others. My stress response is from one extreme to the other….work work work or check out and veg out. We, humans, tend to go from one extreme to the other. We under-react by pretending we are fine or we over-react, panic, and buy up all the toilet paper!

What stress responses or emotions are you having? 

Who are you talking to about it?

In their recent “Soul Talk” podcast, Bill and Kristi Gaultiere said; “Naming our emotions with others and God orients and strengthens us. We can integrate our faith and feelings so that we can move forward with God in courage.”

Be honest about your fears.

Face them. 

My dear friends, PLEASE remember to do these two things:

1. Take care of yourself – Have heart-to heart conversations with trusted friends, spend time with God in prayer, in worship, in His Word and rest in His love for you.  Fill up your soul – rest, play, celebrate! 

2. Reach out to those around you, they need you – Call or text friends, send care packages, join social media/video chat, pray pray pray 

Prayer:

Dear God, Help me to be more like you, showing compassion and empathy to those around me. Help me to discover new ways to connect verbally and emotionally with those around me.  I do get worried about uncertain times ahead. I ask for your courage to move forward with honesty about my fears. Thank you for being my safe place to fall apart when I’m scared or sad or angry. Thank you for holding my chin up like a loving father does. Thank you for your peace and joy! Just as Paul was a loving father to Timothy, You are even more to me. Thank you for always being with me, keeping me safe. You cover me with your feathers, and under your wings, I will find refuge, your faithfulness will be my shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:4)

Amen

Heather Garner is one of the strongest women I know. She loves passionately, listens carefully and always looks for ways to help people. She is a great mom who is raising her kids to live in the grace and truth of Jesus. She is the Care Director at Cape Christian, leads the Prayer Team and so much more. She is discovering her voice and allowing God to use her to bring freedom and hope to others. – Cindy Grasso

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