Well, the last few months have been interesting to say the least. Words like “unprecedented” and “unusual” don’t come close to describing what all of us have experienced.
As life begins to reopen, we have the chance to take the lessons we’ve learned during social distancing and incorporate them into our new schedules. To be honest, before Co-vid19 I had no idea how busy I was or how tired I felt. I lived in the “busyness” for so long that it seemed normal to me.
I find it interesting that my "word" for 2020 was simplify, clarify, and move on! From the beginning of January, God was showing me all the ways I needed to slow down and refocus. However, nothing could have prepared me for what took place in the middle of March. I had the cancelation of 15 events, all travel canceled, tons of meetings and collaborative projects canceled or postponed. To this day, I am not sure what to think about it all. So, as I process, I will make a list.
These are the thoughts I want to take with me as life begins to return to some kind of normalcy. These are the truths I hope I never forget. Maybe a few of my experiences will resonate with you!
1. God always knows what is best for us. God is faithful to use every circumstance to refine, prune, refocus, and revive our souls. We can trust God even during the hard times. He is faithful to bring good out of the hard and sometimes the best things come out of the hardest things. One good thing that came out of this time was the ‘slow down” and the “sit still” opportunities. I had more time for Bible study and prayer, a second cup of coffee on the back porch, longer walks around the neighborhood, and deeper conversations with others even if they took place on Zoom.
2. Family time is the best time. During social distancing, my family had fun together. We developed a routine early on and learned how to give space to one another. There was that "rocky" moment when I "snapped" at my son for interrupting a video recording and all of it was caught on the video, but everyone survived the moment and we laugh about it now! I will be honest, when all of this started, I wondered if our family would like each other by the end of the quarantine. I can say that we not only like each other, but we have genuinely enjoyed spending time together. We completed lots of projects and found joy in the simple things like going for a drive, visiting Sonic Happy Hour, power washing the house, and watching playbacks of Conway High School Football games on Channel 5. I will never forget this time and get teary eyed just thinking about it.
3. Neighbors can be friends. Walking around the neighborhood was a daily treat for me and my husband. We looked forward to getting outside the house and visiting with neighbors. Seeing kids riding their bikes, moms and dads sitting outside talking, picnics in the front yard, games in the cul-de-sac, and the Kona Ice Truck passing through the neighborhood… all brought moments of sanity to a time of isolation. For me, this provided an unexpected return to my childhood when schedules were free and fun was waiting just outside the front door.
4. When one door closes, God will open another one. My work schedule was completely interrupted over the last few months. I went from a very full speaking calendar to pretty much no events or ministry opportunities inside local churches. During this time, I started a private Facebook group for women. I was amazed when over 2,500 women joined the group and started interacting with one another as we studied God’s Word together. The development of this group reminded me that community is essential for our well-being because we need each other! During isolation, I’ve experienced community in a special way that has established life-giving relationships. I love that a closed door led to an open door. My life is better for not giving up or allowing a closed door to steal my joy.
5. Peace is not dependent on our circumstances. The biggest and best lesson is one that I can't fully put into words. It’s a peace that I can't describe. It’s a hope that I can't explain. It’s the reality of knowing God is on the move, and I can be part of His story even when life seems to be falling apart. A wise friend once voiced a statement to me that has come to life during my time of quarantine. He said, “If the Lord wills…” Think about that statement. When we wake up each morning, we should give our day to God and say, “If the Lord wills” about every single detail. When we do, we invite surrender, faith, and trust into the deep places and spaces. This step gives us a taste of the abundant life Jesus provides. In the last 10 weeks, I think I’ve tasted God’s best and I don't want to go back to anything less. Peace comes as I daily say, “If the Lord wills…”
How do we take the things we’ve learned during social distancing into our new schedules? I’m thinking about that a lot right now. I’m considering my options. I think it starts with guarding our lives from the things that steal our focus. As a result, I’m asking the Lord to make my focus deeply rooted in Christ… His way, His plan, and His story. If we can stay focused on Christ we will experience John 10:10 where Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (New International Version) I want that full life in the busy seasons that are bound to return. I want to navigate the ups and downs of life for the glory of God.
I would love to hear from you. What has God taught you during social distancing and how do you plan to take what you’ve learned into your new season of life? Please connect with me through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at andrealennonministry.org. I invite you to subscribe to Inspire on the Go podcast to hear the Bible teaching from the private Facebook group, “This, I Believe: Truth During Uncertain Times.”