If you’re like me, you came into 2021 a little weary from all the bad news in the world.
I mean, how much can we all take?
In our human nature we like things wrapped up in a neat little bow, and that’s how I felt about last year. It was done and complete, I wanted to move on.
But when you look around the world and see the continued impacts from COVID, you begin to realise that for so many, they can’t move on. For many the suffering and pain is growing.
So, how do you keep your heart open and your compassion alive when you feel a bit over it? How do you keep caring in 2021?
Here’s three simple ideas:
1. Keep Prayer at the Centre
As Christians we know we are called to prayer. But at times this simple act can seem futile.
But the Bible is clear – we are to pray because prayer is powerful! And it moves the heart of God.
We are exhorted in the Bible to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), to pray for all people – and those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2), to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44), to not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, to pray (Philippians 4:6).
In other words; we are called to pray.
The beautiful thing about prayer is how it impacts our own heart and our awareness of the world around us.
On a personal note, it reminds me that I’m not God, and awakens my spiritual senses to what is going on around me.
Which means I am more alert to where I sense God leading me and how he is asking me to care for others.
Prayer equips me to do the work I am called to do – and do it in His strength.
There is a famous quote by Mother Theresa that summaries it well:
I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.” - Mother Theresa
2. Be intentional about what you engage with online
Online news and media can be all consuming. Be intentional about what you listen to and read.
If I spend too much time simply consuming the news, I can become quite down and despondent about the world.
It becomes counterproductive because it can actually take away energy that could be used on caring for others.
My mantra is: Be informed but don’t be overwhelmed!
We need to be informed about the world; there is nothing worse than a Christian with their head stuck in the sand when it comes to issues of justice.
But choose what news outlets you consume and stick to them – and while you’re at it, make sure they are from a wide range of sources.
Ensuring you access your news from a wide range of sources (online, print TV, podcasts) means you can limit bias as much as possible and have a well-rounded view on things.
And an encouragement; have one day off a week where you don’t consume any news media.
None of us need to know everything that is going on in the world at every moment.
In fact, it’s wise to limit what we engage with online.
Being an informed caring person doesn’t mean you need to be overwhelmed!
3. Choose one thing to take a big step on this year.
What issue of justice are you really passionate about?
Find that thing and make a plan to take one big step of action on that this year.
Is it Climate Justice and sustainability? Indigenous justice? Protecting women and girls living though humanitarian crises?
Choose that thing and then put a plan in place to take action this year.
Maybe this is the year you need to write to your Federal Member about one of these issues.
And maybe you need to finally get around to contributing to that organisation working on the ground that you’ve had on your heart for a while.
Whatever it is – taking that one step will motivate you towards other steps!
Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” - Desmond Tutu.
Every little step we each take counts.
Here’s to another year where we have the privilege of caring for others – a year of justice, mercy and humility.