Rock Jones, in a letter address to a wide variety of people related to Ohio Wesleyan, asked a simple question: “Are you okay?”
As much as I want to write to you all some high-flying, terrifically motivating and awe-inspiring message today, I doubt it would be worth much, and would likely ring hollow. What President Jones asked was about as honest as we can be right now: are you okay?
As you’re processing the last few weeks and the next few, you might not know exactly what okay is for you. So, I thought we could think through this like we’re in a room with each other, six feet apart obviously, just talking about what’s happening.
It’s okay to be mad. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be annoyed with your kids. With your partner. With the governor, or the president, or anyone else. It’s really hard not to be right now.
It’s okay to grieve – in fact, we’re all grieving right now whether we call it that or not. We’re grieving the loss of the life we expected to live recently. We’re grieving the loss of touch, and of nearness. We’re grieving empty shelves in a land of plenty. For some of you, grief takes on the form of denial, and that’s okay, too. This is a lot to absorb all at once.
Pastor colleagues, it’s okay to feel worried. I am a little. I’m trying to be a good leader to a group of people who I love dearly and I hope we’re making the right decisions. I’m trying to be a good non-anxious presence, but I know that means grieving a little now for someone I love deeply who may or may not pass away. I’m trying to negotiate when the touch of pastoral grace is greater than the potential of being a vector. I don’t want some dated form of machismo to be my primary motive for acting like things are normal when they’re not.
It’s also okay to ask for help. To give help. To not know how to help and just call someone up. It’s okay to send a letter, or a text message. It’s okay to awkwardly livestream with great gusto because people will know you tried. It’s okay to tell everyone you love them.
I love you. I wish I was writing this to you under more rosy circumstances right now. Next time, I promise.
God has not done this to us. That seems like a cop-out for God and for us; as if it’s our responsibility to either stand in judgement ourselves or take the punishment.
Instead, I think it’s a chance to show even more how God’s good grace is evident in our world. That the church is not Sunday morning, but instead it’s people in varying degrees of okay-ness bringing good news to dark places (did you notice how much church has been on Facebook? I rest my case.). That you are loved no matter what okay means to you right now.
Know, my dear friends, that I’m praying for each of you – I do every week. I’m here for you if you need anything, even if you just need to be reminded that you, as you are, are okay.
Rev. Adam W. Anderson is pastor and head of staff at Old Stone Presbyterian Church. For more information, go to www.oldstone.org.