I have learned some important lessons thanks to being self-quarantined. I’ll share a few random ones:
- 3/4 inch plywood is heavier than it used to be;
- Satellite television has a million channels but there is nothing worthwhile on any of them. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
- Steam from a crockpot can burn you two times in a row;
- Spring mud around a new house can suck the boots right off your feet;
- Turning around and walking backward on a treadmill is a skill I don’t have.
So time well spent, obviously.
Of course I know this is a difficult time for most of you. I’m not sure how you are coping but there are some basic principles I have gleaned to help us maintain our sanity.
Focus on the important:
- It is necessary that each person be physically distant for both yourself and your community. Do it with integrity.
- Sanitizing, distancing, washing, will be a life-style for some time so embrace it and build it into your family’s daily habits.
- Stay in touch. We are social creatures so phone, text, Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, talk over your fence, etc.
- Consider if there is someone you can help – someone elderly, unwell, suffering financially, or just alone.
- Stay active. Simple stretching, yoga, walking, jogging, hiking, biking, Keep your brain active with crafts, puzzles, hobbies, building projects, books, etc. Anything fun outside is a bonus.
- Keep a routine: getting up and going to bed at a regular time is essential for your mental and physical well-being.
- Ignore the loud, crass voices by limiting your news intake and negative social media. Inform yourself with trusted sources that are brief, honest, compassionate, hopeful. Turn off the rest.
- Set aside time for newness. Explore and learn a new challenge / skill. Discover new music that moves you. Read a book for fun. Learn to welcome quietness.
- Be thankful every day: you have time with your family, you have a home, you have food. Find more joys each day.
- Remember that your situation is almost certainly more fortunate than most in the world right now.
- So seriously, do the mind-stretching work of being thankful for even the smallest things.
- There is a Facebook meme making the rounds that says, “You’re not stuck at home, you’re safe at home”.
Walk right through it:
- Sounds cheesy but approach it all, ‘One day at a time.’
- Be honest that this is a frightening period for you and those around you. It’s difficult but difficult can also birth good.
- Have conversations with God and people close to you about how you are feeling and what you are concerned about.
- Read the many pieces of Scripture that lament the unfair circumstances of life.
- Read the Bible in small, thoughtful pieces – the Psalms and Gospels to start – and let it fill your thoughts.
This unwanted space in time has been forced on us and it can bring frustration or loneliness or fear. But it can also be an enforced reminder for us to return to what is important. How have we drifted away from God, family, self love?
There are actually people out there, living under rocks and inside of bubbles, who are suggesting that this pandemic is God’s punishment for sin. Of course the sins they point out are the predictable ones.
My answer to that is “No”. If you see a person saying those things change the channel, go to another site, throw out the book, kick them off your property – do whatever you have to do to extricate yourself from their poison.
First, God is good. He doesn’t use evil to strategically punish us for sin; He is the source of order and love, not chaos or pain. God does however, take the opportunity to mature us and draw near to us when hard times come.
Second, I know this because Jesus said so.
In Luke 13 he is asked a question about some Galileans who were killed and desecrated by Pilate. The theory going around town is that they must have sinned in order to bring such suffering on themselves.
Jesus responds by bringing up another recent event when a tower in Siloam fell, killing 18 people. He rhetorically asks, Do you think they died because they were the 18 most sinful people in Jerusalem? Then he challenges them to look within themselves and repent of what is in their own hearts.
Brian’s translation: Outside stuff doesn’t have a rational explanation so stop pointing fingers. But we are responsible for the inside stuff. Our own sin is what kills us.
It’s quiet now and there’s less clutter. The house is small and there’s nowhere to go. Our false sense of self has been stripped and our comfortable idols of work, money, busyness, entertainment are beginning to tip over. Have we built the important components into our lives like reflecting, creating, feeling, thinking, worshiping?
God is not punishing anybody with covid-19 but he is taking this time to challenge us, grow us, get near to us. We are being weaned off of our artificial, imagined securities (idols).
There is a reason we commit to a daily walk with God rather than just calling him when we are desperate. The intangibles of faith have to be tended and grown in us over time in order for them to become part of our soul and character. It’s how we can have a deeper reserve when we need it.
Valuable things like peace, gratitude, and love are accumulated, not parachuted in, that’s why we begin now.
Or as Pope Francis recently said, “In the midst of isolation … we experience the loss of so many things. let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: He is risen and living by our side.”
That is the message of Easter in a nutshell.