By: Katie Choi
After the events from the past week, going to church and actively worshipping with other people would feel like a comfort to me. At first, I really enjoyed tuning into our church over the livestream on Sunday morning. I am grateful for the technology and resources that allowed something like streaming a church service to happen. I enjoyed being in our living room, sipping on my coffee, and not having the hustle and bustle that came with getting out the door in a timely fashion so we could get our daughter checked into childcare and get a seat in our favorite section. It felt nice and simplified. That newness has worn off, reality has set in, injustice and pain are all around, and I miss in-person worship. So, how do I reset my heart for worship at home when I can’t yet go back to church?
Lately, my daily rhythms have been off so I have fallen into some bad habits. I can see the effects of this play out when I talk sharply to my husband or fail to show patience to my daughter. Or not assume positive intent with a coworker while reading a virtual message. Lots of ways. I write this from a place of yearning for something different and not a place of arrival at wisdom in practice. I need help, and I need something to shift. Sunday morning worship often felt like the reset button to some of these feelings. A way to fill up a depleted cup. So, how do I find that right now?
I could start by assessing and resetting my expectations. How often do I ruin experiences with unmet and unrealistic expectations? Attending church at home just isn’t going to be the same as being in person. But different doesn’t have to be bad and different can still be life giving. Worship can be found outside the church by listening to music, marveling at nature, practicing Sabbath, spending time in prayer. Maybe there are other times and opportunities beyond Sunday mornings that I need to seek out. Being at home, things like childcare for kids don’t exist so interruptions are going to happen. To me, this can be frustrating and distracting. I try to combat that frustration with recognizing that Charlotte is seeing us prioritizing this time by ‘going to church’. Mind you, she’s two, but I think she will have some recollection of what life has looked like during this time. If not, her dad and I will be sure to tell her how awesome and faithful we were through all this. HA. What expectations do I need to let go of and what new ones do I need to set?
I read a tweet a few months back from a local pastor. He was talking about preparing the night before if you intended to wake up early for some quiet time. He wanted to emphasize that forming a good habit often starts the night before. Get your coffee supplies prepped the night before. Limit your screen time before bed so that you wouldn’t have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep. It wasn’t necessarily new thoughts or ideas, I have heard and read similar wisdom before, but it stuck with me. For me that translates into thinking about Saturday evenings and how they flow into Sunday mornings. Going to bed early, not creating a big to do list first thing, and taking time to take stock of my emotions are a few things that are important for me to be mindful of. So, what else do I need to do or not do the night before to set Sunday morning up for success?
Make sure to do anything you did when you went to church in person. Take a notebook with you to take notes and help you pay attention? Do that at home. Roll out of bed and wear your pj’s to church…well I guess you could do that at home. But maybe on the off chance that you didn’t do that at your church, put on some clothes. And maybe at least wash your face and brush your teeth, Katie. (Looks around to see if there is another Katie. Oh…you mean ME?! Got it.) Likely, you have your phone on silent when at church so do that at home. Try standing up and singing. What other routines help me to be present and engaged?
Just like I said about the tweet I referenced earlier, none of this is probably new, profound thoughts to you. But maybe you all could use a little reset, too? I presented more questions than answers so take time to give them some thought. Be thoughtful about what works for you or your family if they are joining you in this as well. Open your eyes and your heart and find worship and praise throughout the week, too. Slow down and pay attention. I am praying with you and for you and wishing you peace.
But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. – Psalm 59:16