4 Signs the Pandemic Took a Toll on Your Faith
The (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime pandemic has had a lasting effect on work, schools, and families, so it’s no surprise it’s also impacted our faith. If you want to check your physical or financial health, you make an appointment with your doctor or financial planner. But how do you assess the pandemic’s toll on your spiritual health?
Here are four signs to look for.
Your faith might not be doing well if…
1. You’re experiencing anxiety, fear, anger, irritability, or frustration.
Have you ever been too busy to deal with the warning light in your car only to learn the hard way that putting off car maintenance is really dumb? Me too! You can think of your negative emotions as a warning light telling you that it’s time for some heart maintenance. Since the shutdown began in March of 2020, a lot of warning lights have been flashing. Have you noticed?
My problem is that when I see negative emotions in my life, my first reaction is to ignore them, just like I’ve ignored my car’s warning light. Then, when I’m finally forced to acknowledge there’s a problem, I tend to think the problem is anything but me.
“I wouldn’t get so angry if you weren’t so annoying.” “I wouldn’t complain if my kids cleaned up after themselves.” “Anxiety is normal when the world feels out of control.”
The truth I’ve grudgingly come to accept is that my biggest problem is… wait for it… me.
The New Testament says that the positive characteristics I want to be present in my life are the result of walking with God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
If I’m not seeing this kind of fruit in my life… If, in fact, I’m seeing the opposite… Maybe it’s because I’m not doing well spiritually.
Maybe I don’t just need a vacation or a new job or a new set of circumstances. Maybe what I need most is to surrender my life to God and ask him to fill me with his Spirit.
2. You've become tribalized.
I have a crazy idea for a social experiment. Let’s make a large group of people stay inside their homes, keeping them from in-person, human relationships as much as possible. They will have to rely on a company most have never heard of, ZOOM, to maintain friendships, stay in touch with their families, and “go” to work or church.
While they are isolated and spending inordinate amounts of time online, we will flood social media and the internet with stories about the evils of the “other side.”
What do you think will happen?
No need to wonder. Welcome to the Thunderdome 2021, where it’s us vs. them, good vs. evil, and people divide into tribal groups over masks, in-seat education, vaccine distribution, racial justice, free speech, and defunding the police.
Nuance, intelligent debate, persuasion, and open-mindedness are all so pre-pandemic. Who needs to think when your tribe will do it for you?
If you get more worked up about the POTUS than the Christ, if you’d rather see the “other side” defeated than adopted by God, if you think you have more in common with someone who shares your politics than you do with those who share your faith…
You’ve become tribalized. And, more importantly, you aren’t doing well spiritually.
3. You have developed unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Alcohol consumption increased 14% during Covid-19. Some put on the Covid 19 (pounds). Media companies took advantage of the virus and made bank through streaming services. Social media held eyeballs by monetizing outrage.
It would be one thing if your coping mechanisms had worked, but it’s quite another thing when you realize that after you’ve finished eating, drinking, watching, and scrolling, you still feel anxious and fearful.
Unfortunately, Covid is leaving, but your bad habits are sticking around. Bad habits are easier to start than break.
Do you find yourself in an unhealthy relationship with any habits? An unhealthy dependence on any substances? Maybe that’s a sign Covid took a toll on your faith.
4. You find it hard to get motivated to attend church in person.
I’ve had a lot of people look around to make sure no one is nearby and then whisper to me the reason they haven’t been back to church in person. It’s almost as though we are in a confessional booth (except Protestants don’t confess sins to a priest).
I assume the hushed tones are because they don’t want anyone to overhear. Their conscience is clearly bothering them.
“I feel bad saying this, but I’m too lazy to go to church on Sunday. Online is so much easier.”
Isn’t that the truth! I appreciate the honesty. It takes far more time and effort to attend in person than it does online.
If you don’t attend in-person worship services, does that automatically mean you’re lazy, or you’re not doing well spiritually? Of course not.
There are many good reasons to attend online worship services, Bible Studies, or other church events.
If you have a health issue, are out of town, or simply get more out of online services and studies, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. You don’t need to whisper.
People whisper not because they attend online but because of why they attend online. They know that laziness isn’t an appropriate reason.
When worshiping with others isn’t a good enough reason for you to get in the shower and out of your sweats, when you’re more motivated to get your kids to their sporting event than to get them connected to leaders and other kids their age in Crossing Kids or Crossing Students, that’s a sign your priorities are out of whack. And you may not be doing well spiritually.
One Way Back
When you aren’t doing well physically, the doctor might prescribe some medicine or physical therapy. When you’re not doing well financially, your advisor might encourage you to put more money aside for the future. Those small actions have an outsized impact on your physical and financial health.
The same goes for your spiritual health. There are no overnight magic cures for a heart that’s drifting from God. Take small steps. Maybe it’s having an honest conversation with God about your struggles. Maybe it’s prioritizing worshiping with others on Sunday or signing up to serve.
Here’s the best news. Jesus is calling you by name and waiting for you with open arms. Together, let’s turn back to him.
Are you looking for ways to strengthen your faith in the aftermath of the pandemic? Join our Facebook group for regular encouragement throughout your week and see how community can make a change in your life.