“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalms 90:12
The title of my blog is “Graceful Transitions”. From the beginning, I wanted to write about transitions I was experiencing in life, endeavoring to be a candid voice by sharing some of my struggles, insights and reflections. I have engaged a lot of different topics, including weight loss, adoption, inspiring books, daily devotions, self-perception and loneliness. More often than not, I will have an idea, pray until I get a confirmation from the Lord, and then attempt to write a blog that will minister to my readers.
This week, I struggled and debated on what to write for this blog. The COVID-19 pandemic is blowing up our newsfeed, adversely affecting our economy, changing our lives and, most importantly, infecting and killing people worldwide. Do I write another blog to encourage others, or do I write about a different topic to help others focus on things other than the pandemic. I agonized, prayed and counseled with my husband.
The reality is that all of us are still dealing with a lot of uncertainty, and adjusting to changes in our daily lives. Last week’s blog was easy to write, because it was easy to remain positive and take the high road. I try to look at difficulties as temporary situations that I can persevere through; such as a snowstorm, recovery from a surgery, or unemployment. Yet, COVID-19 seems different. We have more questions than answers: when will restrictions be lifted, when will it be safe to socialize again, what will happen to our economy. And the scariest question of all: will someone I love be infected by the disease. Even the experts, those in public health, are unsure of when the peak is going to hit and what the long term prognosis is!
So I decided to write again about some things I have learned about myself and the world around me during this pandemic. Some of it might be a little light-hearted, and some of it more serious.
1. My relationship with God, including my worship and prayer, cannot be limited to a church building. Being connected to a group of believers is important to my walk and growth in God. Having a Pastor encourage, teach, admonish and convict me through sermons is an integral part of my faith. Having the body of Christ encourage and edify me is equally important. Yet, I still need to have my own relationship with God that includes worship and prayer. The God who saturates a Sunday evening service in my church is the same God who can saturate my living room while I listen to worship music and my pastor preaches on Facebook Live.
2. Being an extrovert in a pandemic that requires you to practice social distancing is more than just challenging!! As an extrovert, I can imagine that dealing with social distancing is equal to an introvert attending a party. For those who don’t know me, personally, I am an extrovert! I will not pretend that I am a balanced ambivert, or that I have introvert tendencies: I don’t! I have always been able to walk into any social situation with the ability to talk to, and connect with, strangers. I have never felt shy, I get louder in a group, and I am energized after a party! This social distancing is hard! I find myself making more than the usual amount of small talk in the grocery store. I miss being with groups of people on a regular basis. When this is all over, I am going to bounce around like Tigger, interacting with people and giving hugs while the song “O’ Happy Day” plays in the background!
3. I can maintain a healthy lifestyle while being quarantined. I have seen a lot of the memes about gaining the “quarantine 15”. I understand the sentiment behind it: stress eating, lack of exercise and boredom! I have worked too hard to let a pandemic derail my resolve to be healthy! I am taking as many walks/runs as the weather permits: the sunshine is good for me, plus I get to see other humans besides my family (remember, I’m an extrovert)! I bought some dumbbells, I work out to the Planet Fitness in-home workout videos, and I make extra trips around the house during my daily routine. I bought healthy snacks and diligently track what I am eating. As a result, I have continued to lose weight these last few weeks! I am grateful for that since my goal during this pandemic was just maintenance of the weight I had already lost.
4. I cherish my American lifestyle and freedom all the more. Even though it’s only been two weeks, I miss being able to do ordinary things like eat at a restaurant, browse in a bookstore, and have company. If I want to go hiking, I need to investigate whether or not the place is open to hikers. I can’t go see my son and daughter-in-law in Rhode Island for the duration of the time of the restrictions. These are freedoms that I have taken for granted! As much as I have always been thankful for my freedom, I am even more thankful, now!
5. I need to limit the media voices speaking doom and gloom. A month ago, I set up my phone to limit and alert me to the amount of the time I spent on my screen. I set a time limit and quickly disciplined myself to my preset limits, until the pandemic! After the pandemic hit, my phone alerted me that my screen time had increased significantly from the week before, and honestly, it has continued to grow. Yes, it is important to be informed, but constantly checking the news has not helped me remain calm and peaceful. I have determined that this coming week I will stick to my screen time limits.
6. I am not in control, but I serve the God who is in control. I don’t know how long this pandemic is going to last, how it is going to effect the economy, or if it will infect someone I love, personally. I do know a God who is faithful and just and has a plan! In Isaiah 41:10, the Lord says, “Fear thou not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” When I start to look around at the situation and see all the problems, leading me to fear and dismay, I need to turn my gaze back toward the Lord. He will strengthen me to endure whatever may come. He has never failed me!
7. How I spend my new found free time reflects my treasures. I will admit I have somewhat enjoyed the slower pace of life, not having outside distractions and obligations. It would be easy to pass the time binging on movies, playing games or catching up on sleep. Yet, as a Christian, I am called to always be a witness. I need to use this time to be a witness to my family, my church, and my community. I need to spend additional time praying and seeking God for direction. I need to be kingdom-minded, not self-involved or self-indulgent. I need to find ways to still be a “light” while social distancing.
This is an unprecedented situation for all of us. Most of us lead busy lives, full of activity and interaction. Yet, for the immediate future, it looks like most of America will be “sheltering in” to flatten the curve and keep ourselves, and others, safe. Six months from now, I hope that I can look back at this time with a renewed sense of purpose, growth and a deeper relationship with God!