Circa 1967, I was watching one of my first Star Trek episodes when Captain James T. Kirk yelled out to his crew: Strap in; it’s going to get bumpy. Everything in me felt that strap-in command! I sat up a little straighter right there on the couch and was ready for the action-to-come.
Many years later I discovered it’s biblical equivalent: gird up your loins—get prepared, be ready. Ancient warriors gathered up their loose robes, wrapped them up between their legs, and strapped them high up around their waist so they could have freedom of quick movement. In today’s lingo we often say, roll up your sleeves. It’s the idea that we are heading into something challenging and we need to prepare. It’s a first call-to-arms in a time of war. Get ready.
When the first COVID-19 restrictions began, there was a sort of collective, global girding up of our loins. We read about the strategies and restrictions coming from around the world as the first waves of the coronavirus hit. And we got ready. We stocked up on food, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies. We prepared to hunker down. We were ready to distance ourselves from others, to wear masks and gloves when out and about. We banded together in a kind of war-time-feel, corona-comradery. We flooded our Instagram and Facebook accounts with all kinds of survival ideas. Everybody found ways to prepare. All part of our initial strapping-in for the pandemic tsunami about to break. We were motivated!
But now, we’re many weeks into sheltering-at-home and curfews. For some, it’s already been nearly two months since the first restrictions began. News reports are telling us we still need to be thinking in terms of months before restrictions are fully lifted. And, with all the other losses we’ve been navigating, we are experiencing a pretty significant loss of motivation. Our loins aren’t girded quite so tightly. Our robes are drooping, our organization plans are collecting dust, and our sense of comradery is shifting into a sense of aloneness, powerlessness, and general spiritual, emotional, and physical malaise. Our response, when asked how we are feeling and doing, is just, “meh.”
It’s interesting to note that in 1 Peter 1:13, the Apostle Peter uses the imagery of us “girding up the loins of our minds” (KJV). In The Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrases it: “So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives.” It’s a preparation—not for war—but of hope in the gift through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
ACTION: Write down the ways in which you have noticed your motivation slipping in the past few days/weeks. Where are you finding it increasingly hard to start things or to follow through on plans? Read 1 Peter 1 slowly. Read it again and notice which phrases the Holy Spirit is drawing to your attention. Write them down. What are you feeling as you engage with those phrases? Consider writing a prayer to God about what He has stirred in you as you have engaged with your loss of motivation. Be gentle with yourself as you engage with your loss of motivation.