I have openly admitted to my congregation that I struggle with anxiety. I sometimes get this heaviness and fluttering in my chest that alerts me that something is wrong, sparks a deep worry within me, and causes restlessness – sometimes for no known reason at all.
Right now, I think there is a lot of anxiety going around as we are met with uncertainty about the future because of COVID-19; maybe there is even greater anxiety surrounding our area opening up and our not knowing what the result will be.
Whether or not you are highly anxious or experience anxiety like I do, I think most of us can relate to feeling unprepared for dealing with a pandemic, as well as – depending on your circumstances – being either under- or over-productive. And with all of the increased stress, I think we are all needing a little extra grace.
None of us ever expected we would find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic. It has sent some of us into overdrive, particularly parents and first responders, but many others have been laid off or furloughed and now find themselves with little to do.
Either way, I think it’s important to remember that God did not create us to be productive. Productivity is a product of our culture. We have been taught that in order to be valued, in order to be worthy, we must produce and keep producing at impeccable rates. So when we can’t keep up with everything or have nothing to keep up with, we feel inadequate, we feel un-valuable, and many of us feel anxious.
A culture of grace is the opposite of a culture of production. A culture of production tells us our value comes from what we do, but grace tells us that we are worthy regardless of what we do or don’t do.
We are taught in scripture that “it is by grace (we) have been saved, through faith – and this is not from (ourselves), it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
Grace says, “I am worthy of still being a good employee even if I don’t check everything off my to-do list today.”
Grace says, “I am worthy of being called a good parent even if I am overwhelmed and my kids are bored and don’t understand why they can’t see their friends.”
Grace says, “I am worthy of my accomplishments even if I don’t get to graduate by walking across a stage.”
Grace says, “I am worthy of being loved even if the only thing I do today is sit on the couch and binge-watch TV.”
Grace says, “I am worthy. I am loved. I am a child of God.”
So maybe you’re anxious, like me, in this time of pandemic. But maybe you can join me in saying, “For today, I choose to show myself grace. Today, I choose to call myself worthy. Today, I choose to remind myself that I am a child of God.”
Stephanie Dion is an associate pastor at Lowcountry Presbyterian Church in Bluffton. LowcountryPres.org