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“Enduring COVID and Practicing the Presence of God”

My husband woke up not feeling well with a pounding headache, low fever, and tiredness and simply thought he had a sinus infection. Two days later, I felt like I had a sore throat coming on and then woke up feeling like I had gotten run over by a bus. We went to the doctor to be tested, and then received the results that no one wants to hear right now—we were COVID positive.

And so, our six-week journey of enduring COVID-19 began.

And I say endure, because enduring truly was our experience. For me, I ran a low-grade fever for almost three weeks, experienced body aches, mental and physical exhaustion, had some limited breathing issues off and on, and had a nagging cough deep in my chest. For my husband, Paul, after that initial headache and low fever, he suffered mostly from intestinal upset, vomiting, and a similar mental and physical exhaustion.

It has taken us more than six weeks to emerge from all of these symptoms, and some lingering effects still remain as we continue to drink enormous amounts of water and we still need to sleep an additional hour or two each night, but of all the challenges of enduring COVID, it was the absolute exhaustion—the mental part particularly (which we now somewhat fondly refer to as COVID “brain fog”), that was the most difficult to endure, but it also was the cause of the greatest graces and even now, is bringing continued blessings.

How so you might ask? Because it brought about a deep and profound experience of what it means to go about “Practicing the Presence of God.”

For those of you who may not be familiar, Practicing the Presence of God is a spiritual exercise that challenges you to remain focused on God during an everyday task or chore, and also helps you to break down barriers that distract you from God’s presence. Practice of the Presence of God is a book of collected teachings of Brother Lawrence (born Nicholas Herman), who was a 17th-century Carmelite monk, that was compiled by Father Joseph de Beaufort.

Prior to my enduring COVID, I had heard the ideas associated with Practicing the Presence, but it had never been something that I was able to successfully embrace because of the many distractions in my life. Well, through COVID, God took care of getting rid of all of those for me!

Because of my mental exhaustion, early on, I literally was not able to think about anything that needed to be done, or about anything else that might distract me from simply being present. Time was irrelevant. There was no place to go, and nothing to do other than to endure whatever was to come my way that day.

Because of this, I was able to enter deeply into silence. But it was not an empty silence. On the contrary, it was an active and very present silence—one that not only filled, but also surrounded me with great love, trust and mercy. I literally would sit on our front porch and just let the sun shine upon my face, and as I did that, I had no concept of time passing. I was simply present.

I have no doubt that during those days, when moments became like minutes, and minutes became like hours, and days became like weeks, I was given the enormous grace to experience what it is to be a part of “Kairos” time—God’s time. But what has brought me even greater joy is the discovery of the four simple principles that will allow not just me, but anyone, who desires it, to be intentional about being able to experience the great gift of entering into silence and Practicing the Presence.   

First is to focus upon God and your friendship with Him. By focusing upon God and your friendship with Him, you are not focused upon yourself in any way, and then this enables you to more easily accomplish the second principle—to do God’s will in each moment. The third principle is tied to this in that it is for you to patiently bear the present cross before you—whatever are those things that you do not like, did not choose, cannot change, and do not understand. You are not attempting to bear a future cross, just the one in this present moment and no more. Finally, you focus upon expressing gratitude for the present good.

Like when I was sitting on the front porch, I gave thanks for the sun on my face and for the awareness of God’s love for me as I simply sat and was present to our Lord as I endured being sick with COVID.

So, it is that enduring COVID has become a great sign of hope and consolation for me.

Hope in the reality that although COVID is a nasty and potentially dangerous virus, and should be treated as such, it is nothing to be fearful of as it can be survived and endured.

Hope in the knowledge that just as Saint Paul wrote to the Romans, our God does work to the good of those who love Him.

And finally, hope that the One who loves us beyond measure will continue to increase our faith and trust in His faithfulness by continuing to reveal to us how to love Him here more deeply–all to ensure we will be ready when the time comes for us to do so for all eternity. 

Christina Semmens is a Roman Catholic author, speaker, and coach and host of the Say Yes to Holiness podcast. She currently lives in Fort Payne, Alabama where she strives to live out a life of authentic discipleship in the pursuit of holiness while empowering, teaching and accompanying others in striving to do the same. 

If you want to learn more about how to embrace the life God created you for and discover more purpose, peace and abundance in your daily life, then make sure to get a copy of Christina’s new book on AmazonSay Yes: Discovering Purpose, Peace and Abundance in Daily Life, and also sign up for the Say Yes to Holiness Today 40 Day Challenge by clicking to join the Say Yes to Holiness TODAY Facebook group or learn more about the Say Yes to Holiness Movement on the web, or you can simply send an email to: christinasemmens@gmail.com

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You can also listen to episodes of the Say Yes to Holiness podcast here, or subscribe to the Say Yes to Holiness YouTube channel. You can learn more about her ministry efforts at: www.sayyestoholiness.com and www.christinasemmens.com