“Social distancing” is a new term in my world. Don’t get too close, don’t touch, and definitely don’t hug. These are words that are quite the opposite behavior in my relationships with people I know and love.
This is a time in our nation, and in our world, that we could never have imagined living in a pandemic of this magnitude.
A time when words like isolation, quarantine, lockdown, and shelter in place are all too familiar and real. We have transitioned from busy schedules, full calendars and meals on the run, to an open schedule, an empty calendar, and eating every meal at home. We have transitioned from fearless to fearful, from constantly being on the go to a sudden stop, and from having what we need available and accessible to waiting and going without it.
The reality of the physical, emotional, and economic effects of the Coronavirus has hit our nation like a ton of bricks. The impact of the blow has been devastating to countless people and has become a crucial change point in our daily lives.
It occurred to me that most of us have experienced some kind of isolation or lockdown—physical, emotional, or economic—in our lifetime.
It could be a physical lockdown from an illness, a disease, or abuse that is debilitating—crippling your body, mind, and spirit. You are so helpless to do anything about it. Your physical condition dictates your day and you feel helpless. You can’t run, you can’t escape—you have no control over what’s happening to you. You are powerless in the lockdown.
It could be an emotional lockdown from the pain of loss, a broken relationship, fear of the unknown, or shame brought on by circumstances. For those of you who have been there, you know what it’s like. You shut yourself off from everything and everyone, and simply close down your feelings and emotions. You find safety in the lockdown.
It could be an economic lockdown from the loss of a job, bankruptcy, or an economic situation that is beyond your control. Your last paycheck is stretched to the max, you’ve tapped into your savings and it’s almost gone. You don’t know how you’ll provide for your family, pay the bills, or even buy groceries. You are trapped in the lockdown.
And now, today—with this pandemic virus living among us—we are experiencing all three lockdowns: we feel powerless and helpless, we find safety in being isolated, and we feel trapped with our circumstances. So, you ask, what do you do when you’re in this lockdown situation?
When I first realized the severity of this pandemic, I began to ask myself the hard questions:
What do I do now?
How do I stay calm?
How will I get through this?
What will happen next?
The answers surfaced from within very quickly.
Just Do It!
We can do our part by taking the precautionary and pro-active guidelines seriously. It will take all of us to do this, not just a few of us.
Stay connected with one another.
Social interaction is key to help counteract depression, loneliness, and anxiety. I know we can’t get together with family and friends, but we can hold hands and stick together through the internet, social media, Facetime, phone calls, texts and emails. Be creative with how you practice social distancing.
It’s okay to not be okay.
There will be days you will feel like you just can’t get it together emotionally. I have days I find myself weepy over the smallest thing I see or hear, or days when I want to do anything but what I have to do. Give yourself permission to have an emotional “off day.” Just don’t get in an ongoing slump. Take care of yourself. Connect with someone and share how you feel.
Celebrate small victories.
Perhaps you cleaned out your closet, deleted all the pictures you didn’t want on your phone, organized your kitchen drawers, or caught up with filing a pile of papers. Yay you! I celebrate by taking a break and having a bowl of popcorn!
Do the next thing.
I get overwhelmed like you do sometimes. I step back from a long mental or written list, take a deep breath, and simply do the next thing that is a priority for today. What can be done tomorrow or next week? Don’t try to do it all in one day if you are feeling overwhelmed, because then you’ll get nothing done.
Stick to a routine as best you can.
I am intentional about exercising every day. I “walk and wave” or ride my bike. Part of my routine is to call and check in with different friends who are living alone.
Make your bed first thing each morning.
This small thing can start your day off with a feeling of accomplishment. (And, you won’t be tempted to crawl back in the bed for the morning!)
No matter how helpless you might feel, let your common sense kick in.
Do the right thing even though it might be something you don’t want to do! We have to make some hard choices—stay at home, don’t stop by a friend’s house for a visit, stretch the paycheck when you’ve been laid off, and saying “no” to things we’ve always said “yes” to.
Don’t do or say anything you will regret later.
Remember, we are all feeling some kind of stress and our emotions are fragile. Many times in the heat of the moment I can do or say something that I regret later. Actions and words will be remembered. When you respond calmly—instead of with anger or frustration—you will be less likely to have regrets. God is on center stage, reflected in you and through you by your actions and your words.
Be wise. Don’t foolishly put yourself in harm’s way, but don’t hesitate to cautiously help someone in need.
Oh my goodness, yes! When you go to the grocery store, pick up something a friend needs and drop it off at her front door. Start a group text with friends and gather their creative tips and suggestions for ways to reach out to others. To meet a big need, I’m going to donate blood to the Red Cross.
And, above all…
Go back to what you already know, what you’ve learned, and what you’ve been taught about our sovereign, almighty, unchanging God. And if you don’t know Him, now is the time.
Run to God—You have nowhere to go, so run with all your might to Him. If you think about it, there is really nowhere you can go that is safer than in His presence. He alone is your refuge. Lean in to Him and dwell in Him. Depend on God to give you the strength to endure your circumstances. You might be looking for the answers in all the wrong places and God has been there right beside you all along, just waiting for you to come to Him.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
Pray—Pray faithfully and without ceasing for the virus to pass. Pray for protection, inner peace, and a calm spirit. Pray for the leaders of our nation, our health care workers, first responders, those who have lost their jobs, and countless others who are on the front lines of this war against an invisible enemy every day. Pray that God will use you for His glory, and that you might be a light in a dark situation.
…pray without ceasing…1Thessalonians 5:17
The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16
Renew your mind—In times such as this, recall God’s word and rest in His promises. Repeat scriptures of God’s hope, encouragement, faithfulness, comfort, and protection out loud. Saturate your mind and fill your heart with the remembrance of His word.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…Romans 12:2
Trust God—Every day we face the unknown. Trust Him with your whole heart with the things you can’t control in your life. If you feel afraid and lonely, be assured that God will be with you, His presence will surround you in all circumstances, regardless of what the outcome might be.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Hebrews 3:5
Be grateful—No matter what, there is always something, or someone, to be grateful for. Recount your blessings. Focus on being grateful every day. It’s hard to be negative when you are thanking God. When we all get through this, don’t forget to thank God first before you do anything else.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Thy name…Psalm 92:1
It’s important to remember that a crisis has a beginning, a middle, and an end. We will get through a time such as this. There will be life after the Coronavirus. This too shall pass. We will stand together and wait together, united in faith, hope, and prayer, to face and fight this pandemic.
And while we are waiting, my friends, wait well and love well.
We will come out of this wiser, stronger, more resilient, kind, and caring. We will learn a lot about ourselves and a lot about others. We will learn we can live with less, rather than more. We will be reminded that family and friends are more important than all our possessions. We will be reminded how quickly circumstances can consume our focus and how easy it is to lose our focus on God. We will be reminded to cling to God and His word, to pray, to trust Him, and to be grateful.
But as for me, I will sing each morning about your power and mercy. For you have been my high tower of refuge, a place of safety in the day of my distress. Psalm 59:16 TLB