As our country is in the midst of COVID-19, many aspects of our lives have abruptly changed. I struggled to write this blog, as I am already worn-out of reading, talking, and thinking about the coronavirus…and its only day 14! Yet, as I talk to friends across the country, many of us crave dialog around the positives arising from this situation, and how to maintain them when it’s time to create a new normal. My starting point (God Stop) of writing came when a faith-filled mentor stood in our kitchen and said, “God will use the coronavirus for His glory.”
With each day, this pandemic reveals how little control we actually have. Regardless of our race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, genetics, waist size, hair color, political affiliation, or socio-economic status…we are on an equalized playing field. But guess what, we have the playbook at our disposal. Our very own life manual: The Holy Bible.
For Christians, our lives are supposed to look different. Let’s inspire conversations around hope, share ideas of generosity, and talk-up patronizing local carry-out businesses to help other families endure this trial too! Let’s show our unity by keeping our eyes and ears open to the needs in our community and country (Matthew 6:1-4).
God is already using this pandemic to answer many of my friends’ commonly asked prayer requests of more time, more sleep, more money, and better relationships. A quick illustration using my own family:
- Busy – My color-coordinated calendar aligned to each family member’s activity is now wide open!
- Rest – Even with the nightly board and card games, we are all getting our 8 hours of shut-eye, plus sneaking in weekend naps. Both provide the bonus of more energy and less sarcasm the next day!
- Reduced Impulse Shopping – We are getting creative at meal planning with what the grocery has each week. Our retail shops and shopping malls are closed. Even our recent Amazon Prime order projected 7-days for a normal delivery! All of which gives us a chance to rethink our spending.
- Time to Connect – With fewer activities and work commitments, we are enjoying more family dinners, activities, and movies with all four of us present. Our conversations linger as we dig-in with further questions of gratitude and struggles.
I’ll be honest, desiring better relationship time has been a tricky category to navigate. Here in Ohio, we are formally a stay-at-home state with strict social distancing. I am quarantined with my husband, two children, and dog. The “I’m bored, I’m running out of things to do” rant is real. Kudos to school teachers who are quickly mastering e-learning and providing recommendations, such as to journal the daily changes the coronavirus is bringing: their new joys, fears, and what they are missing. We are embracing creative spurts of baking, writing, board games, guitar, cleaning off, and taking a 10-year-unridden bike for a spin. The four of us are better understanding our individual personality styles and needs: We try to give extra grace to the extroverts who are challenged by missing people and to the introverts who are with us more than normal. Honestly, I think the introverts are faring better, as they can recharge in a separate room. As for my extroverted son, you might hear me say (Shock!) “go get on your device!” as a way to “see”, hangout and refuel with more of his people!
Last week I overheard my husband and several other deep, male voices, laughing numerous times as they were video-conferencing their Bible Study three rooms away. Those voices brought me joy. We need commUNITY and laughter. I’ve since heard video-conferencing of Girls Nights Out, extended family gatherings, Bible studies of all ages, boys using Google hang-out to see each other while they talk to each other playing Fort Night. The sweetest use of technology has to be the mom who set up FaceTime for her 8-year-old to play dolls with a friend.
From changing our conversations to embracing our answered prayers, we get to experience God using this time, using these trials (James 1) to transform many hearts to live a life worthy of God:
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:9-14
Is it a coincidence (or God Stop) that the coronavirus is hitting America during Lent? Or is God using the timing for us to recognize He is Bigger, Mightier than all? I was raised Catholic, and during the season of Lent, we would give up something as a way to think about God more often during the day (our first experience with fasting). As we got older we were allowed to “do something” (an act of kindness). A friend recently shared she was “giving UP” for the 40 days of Lent – as in spending more time in prayer and praise UP with her Heavenly Father.
My daughter says people will go back to their normal ways once this pandemic is over – I hope not. If we need to sit in the muck of this pandemic, I pray we get to enjoy some personal, God-inspired transformation on the other side! Please hold me accountable to the following:
- I will continue to take technology sabbaths. It has been refreshing silencing my alerts (especially texts) and setting down my phone for hours mid-day and completely off at 9 pm – even though I may be awake reading, writing, or journaling. It allows me to stay focused on the task at hand and where God is directing me, instead of the chaos of media repeating, friends reposting, etc.
- I will appreciate my third-spaces, the coffee shop and libraries I drop in to write, meet a friend, and greatly missed face-to-face deep conversation.
- I will reconsider the number of activities our family participates in – how lovely to consider resigning from my role of second-shift chauffeur!
- I will have a higher expectation of help at home: tables to be cleared, food items to be put away, assistance with meal prep, as well as more time set aside for creating.
- I will appreciate the giftings of the people I encounter in my life – manicurist’s banter, barista’s smiles, yogi’s contortions, and correcting, most of all hugs from non-immediate family members and prayer circles! I don’t ever want to forget how much I miss them when we can’t be physically together!
Lord – I know you are nearby and I thank you for your continued protection as our world changes daily. I pray you continue to use this time to transform hearts and minds, stretching each of us to live lives worthy of You.. Amen
*To read how the All Mighty is a protector from deadly pestilence and plagues, provides shelter and guardian angels, enjoy Psalm 91.