Homebound: Protecting Our Spiritual Health

Photo by: Ben White on Unsplash

Washing your hands for 20 seconds will help protect your physical health during the coronavirus epidemic. However, you will also want to protect your spiritual health. Social distancing, canceling in-person events, and staying homebound are essential actions for this unprecedented time. Yet, we need to make sure that protecting our physical health does not come at the expense of our spiritual health. We can continue to thrive and not merely endure the coming weeks.

We can live with and toward a greater, fulfilling purpose to be our fullest selves, as well as for the sake of others and for God. Humans thrive by engaging in beneficial embodied practices and spiritual disciplines, increasing awareness of beliefs and values, nurturing spiritual connections, going beyond ourselves, and being outside. We can continue to do these things, even during our homebound routines.

Spiritual disciplines and faith practices help us to feel connected to something transcendent, which is comforting. Doing meaningful activities that help us sense God’s love and presence can help reduce anxiety, insecurity, and fear.

Faith is an anchor

While COVID-19 is causing widespread uncertainty, values, beliefs, and practices of faith can provide steady assurance and encouragement. Religious traditions help people to create meaning from suffering and inspire us to remain hopeful and joyful in the midst of profound difficulty. We can also look to the traditions and history of our faith to recognize ways our shared faith has sustained others and thus will sustain us and our communities.  

These weeks are going to be filled with mundane activities that will feel quite insignificant in the midst of a pandemic: endlessly watching Netflix, cleaning the dishes again, and helping the kids understand those three pesky math problems in their online homework. Mysteriously, faith holds each little thing in our life together, aiming everything toward the same meaningful end, and in doing so, can help to make even the most ordinary task feel worthy. Faith reminds us that our lives are connected to a larger story that is being told.

As I think back over the last couple of weeks, I realize that investing in my spiritual health has been difficult. My time has been devoted to rearranging work activities, talking about how anxious I feel with friends and family members, and basically, planning for impending doom. Honestly, I feel exhausted and depleted. I am yearning to feel God’s presence in the midst of this disappointing, overwhelming, heartbreaking time. I am lamenting multiple things. I am hungry for meaningful conversation with people from my Christian community. I want to be able to continue to live out my faith and to love my neighbors well. Even with everything I have just said, I long to express generosity and compassion, and to embody gratitude and, when possible, give myself over to joy.

The thing is, I need other people to help me to nurture my faith and engage in the essential components of thriving. I need worship services online that do more than stream a sermon. I need help being committed to integrating spiritual disciplines and engaging in the historic practices of my Christian faith over the coming weeks. Yet, many worship leaders are struggling to conduct worship online. Beyond streaming music, prayers, and a homily or providing a podcast talk, worship leaders are finding it hard to imagine what they can do. Given what I have experienced the past few weeks, and the importance of faith practices and actual participation in worship, and having meaningful conversations about how our religious tradition makes sense of suffering, I decided to design a free guide to creating online, participatory worship services to inspire and encourage worship leaders. Anyone can get this free guide on my website.

Even if you’re not a worship leader, the guide offers tangible ways people can engage in spiritual disciplines and Christian practices and concrete ideas for how people can connect across generations and witness to God’s love during this difficult time.

Even if you practice a different religious tradition, I hope you will join with others and collaborate to protect spiritual health—yours and that of your friends, family, and religious community. Perhaps my guide can assist you in imagining how your community might worship together online or how you might integrate spiritual practices from your tradition into your new homebound routine.

No matter what, I hope you will find ways to thrive by promoting your spiritual, emotional, and mental well-being. I hope you will engage in spiritual practices that bring you comfort and help you to sense meaning in your life and remain anchored. These are hard times, but the story is not finished yet. We are not alone. Goodness, truth, and beauty endure—so joy can always find its way to us.

Try these spiritual practices:

Prayer Stroll and Roll

Go on a 10-15 minute stroll and roll. Pray for your neighbors, schools, local non-profits and businesses, first responders, and local government officials either silently or aloud.

Joyful Prayer Stroll and Roll

Go on a 10-15 minute stroll and roll. Thank God for your neighbors, schools, local non-profits and businesses, first responders, and local government officials. Rejoice over the place where you live. Rejoice over the people in your life.

Practice Celebration and Lament

Go online and find one person to rejoice with and one person to mourn with. Reply to them. Message them, or go the extra mile and call them. If you don’t use social media, call a friend or family member and ask them to share a joy or sorrow with you.

Practice Compassion

Write a letter to someone in a local nursing home/assisted living facility and another letter to someone in a local prison/jail. Call and/or look on websites to discern how to go about this. Even if it takes a little bit to get a pen pal at either facility, people who live in these places will be especially grateful to get letters right now, since they cannot have visitors.

About the Author

Angela Gorrell

Angela Gorrell

Dr. Angela Gorrell is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at George W. Truett Seminary in Baylor University. She is also the author of "The Gravity of Joy: A Story of Being Lost and Found" and "Always On: Practicing Faith in a New Media Landscape." Learn more about Dr. Gorrell at www.angelagorrell.com.

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