A word keeps coming to the surface in the conversations I hear – simmering. A counselor friend of mine first used the term in a conversation about the impact of COVID-19 is making on all of us. Each of us is a little cooked!
We are, after all, eight plus months plus into a pandemic-adjusted life. We feel the worry internally and see the pressure people are under in the events happening around us. Last week, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Police Chief Art Acevedo referenced the rise in tension in the entire city after one of our officers, Sgt. Jose Rios, was killed in the line of duty. Evil, anger, and violence are on the rise and it can happen in an instant.
After learning of Sgt. Rios tragic murder – he is married with four children – I looked at crime in Houston. It is rising. Domestic violence, higher. After Sunday morning worship a member of First Methodist Houston who works at an Emergency Room told me she is seeing multiple gunshot cases involving children every week. I just cannot imagine. Kids with gunshot wounds, and the numbers are rising.
What do we do? Ask that again – what do we do?
One, we pray. It is an essential Christian discipline. It is always true that what we most need we cannot directly provide. We need the Lord to help, and I am praying, “Jesus, bring peace among your people”.
Two, watch yourself. When we react out of the norm its a clue that we may be under pressure. If we get overly angry, excessively happy, or irritated at the slightest things these are signs that we are at a simmer. Keep an eye on you, and when you seem a little off talk to someone and get back to center.
Three, invest in spiritual practices. Moments with Scripture bring solace to the day. Make those moments happen. Also, invest in Bible Study, small groups, Sunday School classes – I will give you a hint. There will always be an excuse in your mind as to why you should not attend. You will be always be glad you did.
Four, remember, isolation is always the Devil’s first strategy. Every time as a pastor I speak to someone in trouble a common theme is how he or she feels alone. In the Garden of Eden, the serpent worked to put a wedge between Adam and Eve and when suddenly they did not communicate with each another disaster happened. Stay connected, and you will do better. Isolate, and everything worsens.
Finally, remember everyone else you love and know is simmering as well. We all are at a low boil, and that is tough. As the Holidays happen, conversations occur, and as we manage work and school and kids and everything else – we are all talking to people under pressure.
This is a time to show excessive amounts of forgiveness, grace, and love. Maybe repeat that last sentence a few times to yourself – I know I have – and if you continue to struggle take it a step further by remembering the example Jesus shows to us.
We show excessive amounts of grace, forgiveness, and love because this is how Jesus treats us.