Mark's Tips for Disruptive Times

Tips for Surviving Disruptive Times

The Covid-19 pandemic has become a huge, disruptive period in our lives. Over the next few weeks, Mark Foreman will be sharing twelve tips to help us survive during this season of disruption. 2-3 new tips will be released each week in his weekly email to the church. If you aren’t already receiving Mark’s emails, subscribe now to receive these tips in your inbox!

Mark shares Tips 1-2

Tip 1: Stay Centered

Every morning get out the compass of your soul and find true north. As people we can be very porous, so before you are influenced by any social media, news or other voices, get centered on Jesus. It’s the difference between an offense and defense. The offense acts, the defense only reacts.

Be careful. There are a lot of conspiracy theories out there wanting to give you meaning. So get centered on Christ. Find your identity and meaning in Jesus, anchored with his love and purpose for your life. Like an athlete in training, we need to be disciplined. Spend time in his Word and in prayer.

“I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8

Tip 2: Stay Flexible

When events are rapidly changing and you can’t control them, let them go. When the music changes beat, it’s tie to improvise and play jazz. As the saying goes, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken.” Rigid people are broken in disruptive times. Learn to bend and flex like trees in the wind. Your rootedness is in Jesus, not in changing events. Hold only the world lightly and Jesus tightly.

How do I stay flexible? Pray and give it to God. Take a deep breath, shake it out, loosen up, laugh and stay light. Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small. Love for God and others is all we get to take to heaven. Let it go.

For these first two tips, it might help to picture palm trees which are both rooted and flexible. In hurricane force winds their root ball is so dense that it hangs onto the earth, but the trunk is flexible like grass. That’s the way we want to be in disruptive times: anchored and flexible.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12

Mark shares Tip 3

Tip 3: Beware of Simplistic Conclusions

As humans we are always looking for meaning. When it comes to facts and your search for truth, dig deeper. We are surrounded by simplistic answers so I want to offer some suggestions for your quest to dig beneath the surface:

  • Don’t doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light.
  • Not all truth is saving truth. There are true facts about the weather, the world around us, etc. but that is not the same as truth about your soul. When you come to an opinion, learn to truth it in love. Ephesians 4 warns us that how we speak and treat one another is as important as the truth of what we believe. We can’t be darn-right, angry people sharing the truth of God’s love.
  • Major on the majors and minor on the minors. Decide your opinion and then, love all people. Just think of it…Jesus washed Judas’ feet!
  • Don’t be selective. Partial truth can be dangerous. We must gain the whole truth. For example, the statement that Jesus was fully man is true. But on its own it is only a partial truth which neglects the whole truth that he was also fully God.
  • Learn to dialogue, not yell. Try to hear what the other person is saying. Listening is an act of love and respect. Avoid ‘all or nothing’ thinking (for example, “you always…” “you never…”). Avoid conspiracies.
  • Avoid the drama. Notice the intensity of the nightly news – the tone of the newscaster and even the dramatic music. The drama is not the truth.
  • Be confident that truth will rise to the surface.
  • Hold truths in tension. Digging deeply to find the truth is important, but there is always a greater truth at play. God, in his sovereignty, has already established that nothing can separate us from His love. Hold this ultimate truth in tension with all other facts.

“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.”  – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

I love this poem by J.R.R. Tolkien from The Fellowship of the Ring. What you see on the surface is not the way things really are. We need to have deep roots that are not affected by the frost. There is hope beyond what we are going through now. So stay broadly informed, dig deeper, and beware of simplistic conclusions.

Mark shares Tips 4-5

Tip 4: Drive In Your Lane

The bible says godliness plus contentment is great gain. Contentment is the fourth tip. We’ve all seen cars racing too fast down the freeway, changing lanes, zig-zagging through traffic. And sadly, that’s often the way we live. We think we will be happier if we can do this, or buy that, or be with that person, or go to that place. The truth is, we are discontent.

This pandemic has forced contentment upon us. Some of us are going out of our minds, but others are learning to enjoy this beautiful, peaceful visitor who is now becoming a friend. True contentment will set you free.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” -1 Timothy 6:6-7

Tip 5: Aim for Better, Not Best

Some of us are perfectionists. We fest. We can’t leave well enough alone. During this season many of us have discovered things we want to improve in our lives, in our homes, and so on. There’s always room for improvement. But I encourage you to aim for better, not for best and not for perfect. Learn to walk away from the endless pursuit of perfection. It is a tyrant that will kill you emotionally.

Mark shares Tips 6-7

Tip 6: Be Safe, Not Paranoid

We can take simple precautions without living in fear. Doing practical things like maintaining physical distance, washing hands, and wearing a mask go a long way in keeping us safe. We can follow these simple measures without becoming consumed or paranoid.

Tip 7: Give Yourself Away

The more we give ourselves away, the richer our lives become. It is truly more blessed to give than to receive! Look around you and pay attention to those who need help, love, a listening ear, or something else that you can provide. Get the attention off of yourself. The God-like life is attending to others. Consider who is your neighbor and reach out to love them well. This creates a better you and deeply touches someone else. Let’s come through this season learning to give ourselves away even better than we did before.

Mark shares Tips 8-9

Tip 8: Keep Laughing

Joy is healing. It’s how we feel when things are right. In disruptive times it’s easy to feel like everything is wrong so anything we can enjoy helps to bring a sense of healing. We often think we are victims of our circumstances but that is linear thinking and we live in a circular world. Even in painful times we can find a funny joke, a lighthearted comedy or some joyful worship to help prompt us toward healing. Laughter reminds us of what we long for in heaven when everything will be put right. So keep laughing!

Tip 9: Give Thanks

If you take 3-5 minutes each morning to give thanks for everything from big to small, it will change your life. Our world teaches us to think critically which often means thinking negatively but what is truly brilliant is to look past what is wrong and see what is right. If I go out into my yard and focus on the dead branch that needs to be cut off my orange tree rather than seeing all of the ripe, tasty fruit awaiting me, I miss out. If you start by giving thanks each day, you’ll discover more oranges on your tree.

Mark shares Tips 10-11

Tip 10: Exercise

Some of us love to exercise and some of us don’t, but the fact is we are all made up of bodies and bodies need exercise. We are not just floating brains or hearts. Everything that takes place in us takes place through our bodies, and bodies are important enough to God that He is going to give us new ones in heaven.

There is a lot of research on the effect that lack of exercise can have on depression and anxiety, so in disruptive times it is all the more critical that we move and take good physical care of ourselves. It doesn’t have to be elaborate – a simple walk outdoors can do wonders for your body and also your soul.

Tip 11: Go on an Adventure

An adventure can be anything that breaks us out of our ordinary life and ushers in some beauty or creativity. It’s anything that takes us on a journey or pathway outside of our everyday world. Even something as simple as reading a book with a great story can help draw us out of our daily life, provide a dose of adventure, and direct our emotions down a new path. So turn off the news, get creative, and get into the beauty and adventure available all around you.

Mark shares Tip 12

Tip 12: Find a Friend

We are social creatures. We need air, food and water to survive and we also need to be with people. The isolation from this pandemic has been detrimental to so many and those without friends are the most vulnerable. Relationships don’t usually thrive without intentional care so we need to invest in them. We need to learn to spend time with one another, learn to ask questions, work to find commonalities, and reach out with acts of kindness toward the friends in our lives. By investing in and developing our concentric circles of friends – from acquaintances to deep relationships – we are better equipped to weather disruptive times.