What has quarantine taught us?
We know the end of this pandemic will come, right?
About now you may be thinking – “No, I’m actually beginning to believe it may never be over.” Well, seriously...me, too. Anyway, are you anxiously waiting to get back to normal? Yeah, me too . . . sort of. But maybe we should careful what we wish for.
Consider, how happy were you before the pandemic – were you living the dream? Or, were you possibly wondering how you could make some substantive changes in your life but couldn’t figure out how or when? In this week’s installment of “The Corona Chronicles” lets look at several things to consider as our country moves toward re-opening.
This Will End.
Like so many, I’m getting very tired of the “end” continuing to get pushed further and further out. Cindy and I are very close to losing our Maine vacation at this point and I’m trying to prepare myself for what feels almost inevitable. At any rate, this will end sooner or later.
However, it remains for us to actually hang in there to the end, and many are still struggling with an increasing sense of stress, anxiety, depression, and even anger. All the more reason to take some time and think deeply about what we have been experiencing, and what changes we might make when it's over.
The “New Normal”
We keep hearing that we will be moving into a “new normal,” so, that begs the question, what will the “new normal” look like? I mean, nothing in my life is normal anyway, so I'm not even sure what that means.
There is no doubt we will have something different, yet, my caution is that in times of upheaval, we seek for anything familiar – a way to regain our bearings. And even in the new normal that will tend to be what we grasp for (the familiar) unless we have made other plans. It will serve us well to think about what we want to go back to.
Certainly, not all of the retail establishments, restaurants and other businesses are going to survive, and that will be hard. Undoubtedly, gift cards and take-out won’t be enough to keep some afloat. For those who remain, can we get there fast enough and spend enough to help save them?
The push will be to re-start the economy – big time – and understandable. Be prepared for an onslaught of advertising, coupons, discounts, and other incentives to get you to spend and reinvigorate business.
I know at my house we have talked about the coming stimulus check and are considering putting some of it aside to be able to go out and support our favorite eating places to help ensure they succeed. It won’t be much, but it’s something. The flip side of that has been a considerable reduction of the credit card bill as a result of eating at home – you know, at home – like we did when I was a kid – a very long time ago (yes, we had plates and silverware and I mean silverware).
We literally never went out to eat, well, maybe once, but certainly not on a regular basis and certainly not multiple times every week. Do we really want to return to going out so much? I have actually been learning how to cook a little bit during this time – well, maybe we do want to return to eating out again – just not as often.
Get a Plan Now.
Here’s the point of all this. If we wait until this is over and we haven’t taken the time to flesh out what we want the “new normal” to look like, we will simply be swept away by the culture – attempting to spend our way back to where we were. But honestly, is ‘where we were’ really what we want to go back to?
Remember, this blog is written primarily to the Christian man who desires to live a Christ-centered life. Many of us often haven’t done a great job with that and this is what this reset could be all about for us. We have been given a great gift within all the heartache of this pandemic. Don’t get me wrong, the whole thing hasn’t been a gift by any means. Many people have suffered unthinkable hardship and loss during this time.
The human toll has been hard to imagine and can’t be minimized by those of us who have largely only suffered the inconvenience of staying at home, working from home and having our travel severely limited. For us, it has been perhaps more like a Divine Time-Out. A time to posture ourselves before our God and make some much-needed changes.
For instance – If buying things again and going out to dinner again or finally getting to buy that car that you had to put off buying because the dealers are closed – if those things are what it will take to get your happiness back, then you have been anchored to the wrong things. If working from home with your family nearby has been driving you crazy and you can’t wait to get back to the office, you have been anchored to the wrong things.
Of all the things about this pandemic that are unprecedented, I would add that it is an unprecedented time to re-evaluate the way we live. It is an opportunity to take serious stock of our priorities. It is in times like these when we have had liberties, freedoms and luxuries curtailed that we can actually begin to see that we have been stripped down to the things that are truly important. Faith, family, friends, food and shelter, mostly. How would you have listed your priorities last January – and what would that list look like now? Compared to scripture, how should they look?
Then He (Jesus) said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive.
And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
— Luke 12:15-21 (NASB)
It is in this time-out that we are being given an opportunity for a divine re-set.
Obviously ‘stuff’ shouldn’t be what is truly fulfilling or taking up all our energy. Jesus is very clear that our life should revolve around our relationship with Him. That's THE most important priority - numero uno, Job One. Perhaps that is the starting place for some - just getting that right would make all the difference. After making sure Jesus is our priority as we head back, perhaps we should think about some other ‘what ifs.’
For instance – perhaps you have seen some overarching value of being in close proximity with your kids. You are actually getting to know them – the good, the bad, and the ugly (not their real names) – and they are also getting to know you in the same way. Well, what if you made some changes to make sure you could stay as close and involved with your kids as this time has afforded?
After all, you only get to raise them once – and believe me, it goes by quickly. What if it meant passing up that promotion that would increase your workload and time away from the family? Sure, the money would be nice, but in the scope of eternity, would it be as important as truly investing yourself in your family?
Remember, the measure of a man isn’t in what he has accomplished but in what he has passed on. Will you leave a spiritual legacy for your family or will you simply be remembered as a dad who worked a lot and wasn’t really around? When it’s all said and done, what will you be passing on, and have you carved out the time to do that?
What if this time has revealed some areas of your marriage that really need some work? Don’t miss this opportunity to initiate steps to get some professional help with your marriage – it pays eternal dividends.
Obviously, the possibilities are endless and depend a great deal on your personal situation. This has only been an opportunity to float some ideas out to you to start your thinking process – you know – a little something to do while we wait patiently for the re-opening of America.
Please pray for our country, for those who are suffering, and for a quick but safe re-opening.
In the meantime, now is the time to gather your family together and get a plan for what life will look like going forward – if you don’t plan it, others will.
You’re in time-out. Don’t sulk about it.
Get together as a family and pray this one through.
You won’t regret it.
What have you learned from your "time-out?"
Let us know in the comments below.
Did you find this article helpful? Forward it to a friend, or share it on social media!
Priority One Delaware Valley equips men to make Christ the foundational priority in every area of their lives.
Need counseling? Contact me to inquire and schedule.
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, we are supported by the voluntary gifts of individuals, organizations, and local churches. Click here to donate online, with sincere appreciation.