Stay Healthy When the World Is Full of Bad News

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I’ve thought about this a lot and I’m not 100% sure whether it’s because this is the only period of history I’ve experienced as an adult or if…THE WORLD IS ACTUALLY FALLING APART.

Someone who is older than me, please reassure me that the world has felt this bonkers before! (or maybe it’s ALWAYS been??)

Anyway. It’s bonkers out there. Have you noticed?? It’s certifiably bonkers every single day on the news, and now we live in an age where everything bonkers is amplified by a billion by social media. It can feel like A LOT.

Here’s the deal…the outside is SO LOUD and SO CRAZY, but as humans we don’t have the threshold to live at that volume and pace for very long at all. We have to soothe ourselves with the balm of truth. GOT TO.

So. What do we do?

First, I need you to know my version of “self-care” is “mothering myself”. I used to talk and write about this concept a lot…but, basically, it’s the idea that you can do for yourself what you’d want/need your mom to do for you. You treat yourself kindly, you take care of your basic needs, and you watch the story your emotional state tells about your physical/mental needs. I HATE when people say that you shouldn’t listen to your feelings…you absolutely should. If you’re not paying attention to what freaks you out, what makes you angry, what makes you tired, or what makes you sad…you’re missing out on some pretty great clues to a lot of who you are as a person or what your life is like at any given moment.

So, I’m going to help you mother yourself.

  1. Are you worried?

  2. Are you finding yourself angry?

  3. Is it difficult to sleep?

  4. Are you confused?

If I was your mom, I’d recognize immediately that you have a little “emotional flu” as Kim John Payne writes in Simplicity Parenting. He posits that we should treat an emotional flu much like we’d treat a physical flu. He says we’d should strip back the calendar, draw the curtains, eat comforting foods, get some rest, and ride it out.

So. Here’s the Rx from Dr. Mom-Yourself: if your brain and heart are on overload from how absolutely nutso the world is, it’s time to get back to basics.

  1. Strip back the extras: don’t leave the evening news on while you’re chopping veggies for dinner. Don’t absent-mindedly scroll Twitter and bask in the blue light as you lay in bed trying to fall asleep. Don’t say “yes” to every ask anyone makes. Strip things back to make a little mental room (not forever…just for now).

  2. Draw the curtains: I have a friend that says it was easier to parent in the 1980s and 1990s because essentially you were the gatekeeper to your home. If you didn’t want a certain influence in your house, you could kindly shut your front door. The bullies stayed at school. The cute girl with the cool clothes stayed at school. Etc Etc Etc. But now, with the advent of social media the bullies, the cool kids, and a zillion other people have access to our most private, safe places. This is not so great for our anxiety levels.

  3. Eat comforting foods: nourish your body in a way that brings you joy. The world IS NOT ENDING. Really stopping to enjoy a simple meal you love helps ground you in the moment.

  4. Get some rest: I’m, of course, talking about sleep here. BUT ALSO, put your phone down at least 3 hours before you want to go to sleep…that blue light really is terrible for you! And, when you’re getting some rest…give it a rest, too. Put your phone in a drawer and let it be for awhile. Shut the world out and recognize that where you are right now is fine, and you have to be emotionally sound if you’re ever going to create good change in the world.

  5. Ride it out: There are many things out of our control. The world and it’s happenings are one of them. HOWEVER, if you let every piece of disturbing news in (guilty as charged), you’ll eventually develop compassion fatigue and will be paralyzed to do any good. Too much exposure to too much bad news makes us numb.

Consider meditating on these Scriptures:

John 16:33 (the world is going to be bonkers, but I’ve already won!)

Psalm 46:1-3 (the land could fall into the sea, but God is our very present help in trouble)

John 14:27 (peace I leave with you)

Psalm 55:22 (let God hold the weight of your worry)

Romans 8:38-39 (an epic description of a love so strong nothing could end it)

Luke 12:24-34 (even birds and flowers get God’s attention and care, same with you, dear one!)

Preaching to Yourself Amid Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is still a thing as adults. If anything, I think it’s just as prevalent and we’re less adept at recognizing it than we were as teenagers. When we were teenagers EVERYONE was warning us not to give in to peer pressure, but now, it’s just keeping up with our friends.

I need to tell you, in order to obey God, I have to preach to myself all the time that it’s okay to go against the grain. It’s okay to be misunderstood by others to be approved of by God. When I was a new Christian as a young teenager, this was easy for me to understand. In order to obey God, I couldn’t hang out with my friends that did bad-kid stuff. It didn’t matter to me at that point if they didn’t think I was cool or acceptable.

BUT, what does it look like when our friends are Jesus-y but their lives look differently than ours? We can’t just dismiss their way of life out of hand as bad…but it is sometimes difficult to live in the tension that you’re both following Jesus and you’re coming up with different convictions and different ways to do so.

In the past few years, we found ourselves following Jesus in what I might call “downward financial mobility”. :) As the years past, we found ourselves making less and surviving on less and less. As friends drove nicer cares and bought nicer houses and racked up their investments, we were stacking pennies and holding our breath until our next check came in. It wasn’t that we thought poverty was the way to follow Jesus, but low-level poverty is where we found ourselves as we did follow Jesus in more and growing intimacy.

This is not to say money is bad. We’re not in the same financial position we were. BUT, I learned how hard it is to follow Jesus differently than others in your friend group or your church family during that time.

There are two many temptations to preach to yourself against:

  1. Pride - just because you have been convicted differently does not make you holier or more right. They are likely growing closer to the Lord in ways that are still far from Him. Believe well of your friends and church family. Be generous and gracious with your assumptions.

    Preach this: I may have a log in my own eye, I should not assume I’ve got a corner on holiness. (Matthew 7)

  2. Shame - more recently, I’ve become tempted to believe that I’m wrong and EVERYONE ELSE is right. I’ve felt misunderstood and maligned, and I think I might be making 80% of it up in my head. That’s what shame does. Shame inflates and inflames our worst beliefs about ourselves—and not in a holy way, at all.

    Preach this: I have God’s approval by faith. (Romans 4)

Just because the culture you’re a part of says good Christian women do one thing, it’s okay if the Lord has called you to something else. If you’re being obedient, you’re not behind. You’re not doing it wrong, you’re not failing. You’re growing, and that’s ok. 🖤

What Preach to Yourself and All the Boys I've Loved Before Have in Common

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Like the rest of Americans with Netflix, I spent much of last month enamored with the adolescent love story between Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky. Don’t know who I’m talking about? Hang with me here for a second. I’m about to dive into a b-level Netflix rom-com and tie it all to the Lord…how’s that for some gymnastics?

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We’ve been denied classic rom-coms by Hollywood for years (another take!). The thing is, most everyone LOVES a good rom-com. We’re not looking for an Oscar worthy performance, we’re not looking for a totally un-problematic plot, we’re looking for a likable couple and a moment of escape from the ever-worsening news cycle. And, now we have it with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Quick catch-up (no spoilers): Lara Jean Covey is a darling high school girl who doesn’t know how cool she really is (classic rom-com move). Peter Kavinsky is the sporty guy who is really into the actually cool girl (Lara Jean)…not the supposed-to-be cool girl (his ex-girlfriend Gen). Pretty simple and predictable narrative.

Lara Jean’s Achilles Heel is that she’s always getting stuck up in her own head. She loved to think about love. So much so that she was afraid of actually experiencing love. She has a series of great romances in her head, but she never gets the courage to actually pursue them…so they stay safe and contained in her mind. She’s a little naive and a little stunted because of all the relating and romancing she’s idealizing in her mind and not out in real life.

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I’m not here to make a statement about teen dating, BUT, to make a statement that I believe we do the same in our faith.

I think we idealize ourselves and our version of following Jesus when we keep our faith all up in our heads and don’t let it move down to our heart. In order to really live our faith and understand a “relationship with Jesus”, we have to get out of our own heads. We can’t simply think about God. We have to go BE with God. When we just let it swirl in our minds, we get in our own way and become stunted and naive.

We end up being low-level hypocrites because we think a lot about high-minded and lofty things, but don’t let it shift our actual life. That’s where the understanding comes. The understanding, the relating comes when we take what we know and then let it inform our actions, behaviors, and whole lives.

This takes some intense courage and often times we have to talk ourselves into it. We have to tell ourselves that it’s worth it, and that what Jesus said is actually good. We have to tell ourselves that we should believe and act upon what we know.

I wonder if we’re afraid of the great power that might exist if we dared step into the life God talks about in His word. Living confidently, laughing at the days to come, believing we’ll be provided for, and providing for others. Knowing others and being known. Telling others about this great hope and source of strength we’ve found.

What if we didn’t just think about this great love, but we actually let ourselves trust in it, let ourselves fall deeply into the consequences of it? Would we discover, like Lara Jean did in a silly rom-com that living in the reality of love is really so much better than thinking about it?

PS: thanks for coming along for my culture & faith exploration. 😂