Learning to Grow In Challenging Times

Wow! I can’t believe how much the world has changed since my last post about working from home (of all things…) back in March. It’s hard to fathom how much can happen in such a short time. Thousands of us have been working from home for months, many of us have missed special celebrations and moments with our families and we’re all learning how to navigate this new normal with masks, capacity limits, Plexiglass and hand sanitizer everywhere.

My days seem like an endless loop of being on my laptop for work, walking the pup, wearing the same rotation of yoga pants on repeat, trying to remember if I brushed my teeth and constantly wandering into the kitchen to look for snacks. Quarantining is NOT good for snackers like me! My weekends are spent cleaning the house, making meal plans and grocery lists (and wondering what will actually be in stock), reading the news or a book, and of course more walks with the pup. Oh yeah, and virtual church on Sundays.

The days all started to blur together after about week two, and at this point I’ve pretty much settled into this new normal for the long-haul, however long that turns out to be.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones because I can continue working and earning a paycheck from home. My job isn’t significantly impacted by the physical shut down because I can do everything online, and thankfully my company already had a strong remote work culture in place with all of the tools we need. So working remotely isn’t unusual or new to any of us. I’m also a homebody naturally, so staying at home isn’t stressful for me. Quite the opposite actually.

But I understand that this has been a devastating situation for so many people and businesses who have been forced to shut down completely and all of you extroverts who need to physically be around other people for your mental well-being. My prayers are with everyone impacted by the shut-down from a business or personal perspective, and especially those battling the virus themselves or who have family or friends battling it.

Throughout this crazy and unexpected situation, and now with most states starting to reopen, I’ve started wondering what our world will look like after this is all over. Will life ever be the same again? Do we want it to be the same, or have we learned and evolved in a way that we’ll come out better from all this? What will the new normal be?

For me personally, it’s already changed the way I think. I feel a twinge of anxiety and nostalgia when I see a movie or TV scene with a large gathering of people, and I even teared up watching a commercial the other day that showed a college basketball team and its fans celebrating their win in a previous March Madness tournament. It reminds me of what happened after 9/11. I was 14 when the attacks happened, and I never thought about airports or flying the same after that day. I imagine the coronavirus will have lasting mental effects for all of us as well, even if we don’t know what they are yet.

Maybe it’s something you’ve thought about as well. Will social distancing become part of our culture? What would that even look like? When will it be safe to travel again or go to a sporting event? Will we even want to? How will we respond the next time something like this happens?

I am an optimist and my spiritual gift is definitely encouragement. So naturally I’ve been looking for the silver linings to this whole situation. And with those thoughts in mind, I wanted to share this list of the things I hope we learn and carry with us into our new normal after coronavirus:

  • It’s OK to slow down – Our society thrives on busyness. It’s almost become a badge of honor to say you’re busy, and you know what, that’s not healthy! Busy does not equal productive or even good. This pandemic has truly felt like a reset for me personally, and I see it in our world as well. It’s allowed us all to pause and refocus on what’s really important, which is helping others, making a positive difference in our communities and taking care of our own well-being. I hope we all remember this valuable lesson and don’t let the lie of busyness take over again.
  • Everyone is different, and that’s OK – When I found out that I would be working from home indefinitely, I was ecstatic! There is no place I would rather be than at home with my husband and our dog. I feel safe here, I feel secure and I feel freedom to truly be myself. But I’ve learned through this experience that not everyone likes being stuck at home, and there are many people who suffer deeply without personal interaction. I’ve gained so much empathy from hearing their stories and comments about how the shut down has impacted their mental health. There’s also the issue of masks – some people wouldn’t dare leave the house without one, and others wouldn’t dare be caught wearing one. We all have the right to respond and react however we think is best, and we have an obligation to support each other in whatever we think is best for ourselves and our families. I hope we never forget that.
  • We all need grace sometimes (OK, a lot of times!) – It’s been sad to see so much criticism in the news and even in my own personal circles toward our leaders and the people in our communities who may think or act differently than we do. The stakes are so high when it comes to our health, our economy and our security and I believe that everyone truly wants to get it right. But the reality is, nobody is perfect and it is nearly impossible to get it right every time, especially in this unprecedented situation with a novel virus that we’re constantly learning about every day. From our political leaders to our neighbors, we’re all doing the best we can in a difficult situation and it’s important to have grace whenever we get it wrong because we all get it wrong sometimes. None of us deserves grace, but that’s what makes it so powerful when we give it. I hope those around me will have grace toward me when I mess up, because Lord knows I need it!
  • Sometimes we need a collective jolt to achieve real progress – It’s amazing to me to think about all of the major turning points in world history (positive and negative) that have led us to where we are today. Humans in general don’t do well with change, and I think sometimes we need a major disruption to push us on to bigger and better things. The coronavirus has changed forever the way we live, work and play in a way that I don’t think we could have achieved without something like this to force us into it. Although the consequences have been tragic with so many lives lost, we have an opportunity to emerge better and stronger from this experience. From the democratization of knowledge to more healthy ways of working, traveling and empathizing with one another, our world will never look the same and maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.

I hope you and your family are all safe and well, and I’m praying for our nation and our world to come back stronger than ever from this virus.

What lessons do you hope the world can learn from this experience? How has the shut down impacted you personally? Please let me know in the comments if I can pray for you in any way.

Until next time,

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