Lately I’ve been doing a lot more phone scrolling than I’d care to admit (but I guess I am admitting it so I must not care that much). And a theme I’ve been seeing a lot of, among other less-savory anxiety-producing ones, is grace. It has surprised me and encouraged me. Some of this pep talk going around on the internet looks something like this:

  • You aren’t “working from home” — you’re trying to hold down a job at home in the midst of a global pandemic and also homeschooling. There is a difference.
  • You don’t have to make this the most productive time of your life — you are doing the best you can.
  • No one cares if you read those classic novels or not. Or if you read anything at all. Watch a show about a man and his unhealthy obsession with tigers instead.
  • F*** sourdough. And homemade kombucha. And homemade pasta. Anything homemade, really.
  • Don’t cook — order takeout! Be someone’s hero! (Personal fave.)
  • The bar for dressing yourself can be very low. Wear pajamas all day long, every day. Maybe change your shirt for a Zoom call, but that’s it.

From The New Yorker.

Of course, even where there is grace in our world, there is plenty of finger-pointing, too. That won’t change as long as humans inhabit the earth. But this sweet glimmer of a gracious word gives me a moment of rest during my embarrassingly long phone scrolls. And it is coming to us now because our world is a mess. People are exhausted, lonely, terribly anxious, and dying — and we are realizing that we are at the end of our ropes. We can’t do the things we thought we could do, and we are tired.

The skeptic in me, though, has one question to this gracious internet word: am I also allowed to not read the classics and never make kombucha when this pandemic is gone? Or is this a corona-only grace we’re talking about? Because I’m gonna not want to do anything productive after, too. That is my wonderfully virtuous nature, after all. Pre, during, and post-pandemic, I will always be most gloriously me. And I have a sinking feeling it’ll be full steam ahead New-Years-Resolutions for our world as soon as it’s an appropriate time to bring it up.

We are receiving a gracious word and maybe giving ourselves a break because our world is a mess. But, of course, our world was a mess before December 2019 when the virus was born, and it will be a mess long after. There have always been the exhausted, lonely, terribly anxious, and dying. We need a gracious word to do more than just change our to-do list for the day from a productive and glamorous 8 hours to Tiger King every night and greasy hair (although this is very nice, thank you).

No, what we need instead is a gracious word to be bestowed upon us, to be made true in its very utterance. Embracing our very bodies and souls. Not a word that tells us what we ought to do instead of what we are currently doing, but a Word that tells us what is true and in it’s very telling makes it exactly true. (“Let there be light” and there was light.) We need someone outside of ourselves to take the burden of exhaustion, loneliness, anxiety, and death from our shoulders. We need a true, actual, tangible, flesh-and-blood Word to place those burdens on His shoulders instead, and to freely give us the life that we are so terrified to lose. We need a Word that holds our very heavy burdens on His very broken body and in a last breath concludes the story of our pain with a true and final Word: “It is finished.” Thank God, just as our Blessed Word’s heart started beating again on Easter morning, we were given exactly what we need.