Here at Connected Families we realize this is a tough time for many in our community and in the world as a whole. In response to the current pandemic, we sent out a survey last week to hear, “What is it like to be you?” The response was overwhelming, with a thousand parents responding in just a little over a day. People shared a wide range of responses:
- About 15% of you said you are doing quite well, finding less stress, and deeper connection in the slower pace.
- Another 15% said that stress is about normal.
- Still, another 70% of you are feeling more stress than usual, some of you a LOT more than usual.
We read through each of your responses, and what you told us you needed was practical encouragement in short, bite-sized chunks. So, today, we want to share a word of encouragement with you – You are NOT alone in this!
Jesus “GETS” you!
Hebrews 4:15 & 16 says,“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
It helps to have a little context to really take in this verse. Temptations often have more power under stress. And Jesus had more than His share of stress, some of which you may relate to right now:
- He was so exhausted that He fell asleep, in a boat, in a storm.
- He “managed” 12 disciples who often acted like selfish children.
- He navigated a stressful religious and political climate.
- He was primarily homeless during the 3 years of his ministry, and had no regular income.
So basically…. He gets us, because He has walked in our shoes! He knows how hard this is for many of you right now.
No matter what’s going on in your life right now, Jesus is with you and cares about you! Regardless of what the constant conflict, messy house, or undone checklist looks like. So how does knowing that “Jesus gets us!” help in a tangible way during this unprecedented situation, especially when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed?
Stress happens when there’s a gap between expectations and your ability to meet those expectations.
What does this mean for me, right now?
Here are a few practical ideas to help you keep things in perspective:
- First of all, lower the expectations you have for yourself. Stress happens when there’s a gap between expectations and your ability to meet those expectations. Maybe you’re feeling pressure to make this a purposeful, connective time with your family. Or shine the light of Jesus to those around you. Or just get that to-do list done. Jesus exceeded expectations so you don’t have to meet your own!
- Next, consider what expectations you have that might feel burdensome, and release yourself from those expectations!
- Emphasize God’s mercy in the middle of the mess. Claim God’s abundant, overflowing mercy during your messiest, angriest moments. And say it out loud! During an angry power struggle with one of our kids, Lynne had a “Holy Spirit insight,” and said it out loud. “You know what I think God just said to me? …that He has so much mercy on us in our struggle! He knows how hard it is for you and I to get along. And He loves us.” They both experienced God’s merciful peace. So, in the middle of the craziness, take a breath and remember that God is with you, and say that out loud.
God has abundant mercy for us.
God has abundant mercy and good purposes for us in all things. One of the most memorable sermons we’ve ever heard was the spontaneous testimony of a young man in a small, lively church. As this young man was asked by the pastor to share a word, and he stood up and said, “One thing I’ve learned is that God is always up to somethin’ and it’s always somethin’ good!” He shared numerous examples, and after each one he joyfully repeated, “God is always up to somethin’ and it’s always somethin’ good!”
During many difficult times in our life together we have consistently seen this truth remain. We know that God offers peace that passes understanding. And this peace has nothing to do with our circumstances.
So ask yourself this:
- In this very difficult time, what might God be up to in my family?
- When it’s all over, what have I learned from this time?
- Has my family benefited from a slower pace of life?
Maybe what you’ll have learned is simply to lean into God’s very present mercy like you never have before. And what more valuable thing could any family learn?!
We are journeying with you.
Whatever your experience, we are journeying with you. While our children are grown and moved out, many on our staff have children of all ages and are in the trenches right alongside you. Our team loves to pray for the Connected Families community, so email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how we can pray for you. May God show you His mercy as you seek to lead your family with grace.
We’d like to close with a virtual blessing over you:
“Lord, we are so grateful that you are a God overflowing with mercy, flooding the generations with your mercy. And so we come to You boldly asking for grace and mercy to help in time of need. We ask You to speak to each family in their messiest, neediest moments to be their comfort and their come-alongside Holy Spirit help. We pray that you would help these parents and families release any burdensome expectations because you have exceeded all expectations with the gift of grace through Your Son. We are confident that You love to answer these prayers in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
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