The chaos of the shelter in place orders is starting to settle (at least in my state) as many of us try to establish a sense of normalcy with the drastic alterations to our daily lives. This is my third week of sheltering in place and while I know that there are several more weeks to go, I’ve already learned some very valuable lessons. While this post is not specifically pertinent to my usual topic of singleness, I feel like it’s valuable to discuss what can be learned from this strange and somewhat frightening experience. Rather than wallow and worry, I’m trying to find the silver lining and I’d like to share some of the life lessons I’ve learned while being away from the rest of the world.
- You have to be intentional with maintaining relationships
This is true even when we aren’t all quarantined to our homes, but it’s so much more important now. Once we are allowed to leave our homes and resume our regular lives, we need to remember the effort that we put forth to connect with people and the creativity that we needed to find in order to make contact with the people we care about. This lesson can also translate to romantic relationships. We all like to think that dealing with others is just something that we do, but the truth is, it takes work to make it something worth your while. Something of quality and substance, rather than a superficial acquaintanceship. So while we all learn to “meet up” with friends via various video chatting, social media, and other technology advances (or for those who are more traditional, calling on the phone), we must remember the importance of actually connecting with others by any means necessary. I hope and pray that when this is all said and done, we’ll put down our phones and actually continue trying to spend quality time with each other.
- You can’t force puzzle pieces to fit
If you haven’t noticed on social media, puzzles have made a comeback! I, personally, find puzzles to be stressful, but my sister (who is also my roommate, so we weren’t breaking any social distancing rules) wanted to do one, so we busted out this 1000 piece puzzle that I had and started putting it together. It was fun at first, but then it started to stress me out. I was convinced that many of the pieces SHOULD fit where I wanted them to, but they weren’t cooperating. This is true in life as well. How often do you try to force some aspect of your life to work one way, when it’s meant to work in a completely different way? When you turn them around and look at frustrating situations from a different perspective, you can see that they aren’t always meant to work the way you believe. God has a plan and no matter how much you or I try to manipulate situations to happen our way, it’s never going to, because God made things HIS way. So just like the puzzle, if we want to see the beautiful, complete picture in the end, we need to submit that we may be trying to force a square peg into a round whole and adjust our expectations. Otherwise you’ll just end up with a crazy mess.
- Enjoy the little things and make time for them
One of the best things about this time is that I’ve been able to take more time to notice small things that I enjoy in life. I have 2 dogs and I love them as though they are my children and it has been amazingly therapeutic to be able to sit and do my work with them sitting on my lap or just next to me. Having that comfort, no matter how small and trivial, in my daily life is doing amazing things for my mental health. I’m also more appreciative of the beautiful weather when it’s sunny, getting fresh air and just having an excuse to leave the house. Before all of this, I was so stressed out and busy with work that I only ever focused on, well, work. I never took the time to appreciate the small things that make daily life worth living. Things like the flowers that grow on the tree outside my bedroom window, the extra cuddles I get from my dogs, and even doing a puzzle with my sister while both of us aren’t sitting on our phones. So once things go back, I hope that we can all remember to appreciate and even seek out the small blessings in life that God gives us to remind us of His presence.
- There’s more to life than work
I get it, we have to pay the bills. And how do you pay bills? By working and making money. Work is an important aspect of our daily lives. The problem is that in our modern society we have traded all of the good and restful parts for the stress and drudgery of working. We take great pride in our jobs and they become part of our identity, but once they are taken away or put on hold, what are we then? As a society we live to work when really we should be working to live. Work should be a supplement to life, not the sole purpose. As I’ve had more time to reflect, I’ve been able to distance myself emotionally and psychologically from the demands of my jobs and I hope that I’ll be able to maintain proper emotional boundaries with my job once we return.
- I can make due with less
If you’ve been to the store within the last 3 weeks and been able to find everything that was on your shopping list, consider yourself lucky. For 3 weeks we have not been able to find some of the most basic grocery needs (ie. toilet paper, butter, flour, etc.). I’ve gotten pretty good at fashioning my meals from the random canned goods and other non-perishables that I’d forgotten about in the back of my pantry. I’ve learned that I can eat half of a sandwich and still be satisfied. I don’t need to wash my hair everyday to help conserve shampoo and conditioner. And I also don’t need to use nearly as much toilet paper as I was using before. I’ve always been a bit “hippyish” in that I prefer to use reusable things whenever possible rather than the disposable alternative, but now I’m doing so out of necessity. This experience has given me a greater understanding and respect for those who may not always have the basic things that they need exactly when they need them. I’m by no means comparing my toilet paper situation to the lives of people in other countries, but it has reinforced how very blessed I am to have the basic necessities in life: a roof over my head, clean water, food, and even electricity. I hope that I will continue to thrive on using less materials, less food, and help to make a smaller environmental impact on the world in the future.
- God is in control
By far the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that God is the one in control of all of this. He has my life and your life in His hands and He is paving the way for us to be changed and transformed through this experience if we let Him. While I don’t believe that God has caused the coronavirus pandemic or the panic that has since infected the world, I do wholeheartedly believe that He is using it to transform all of our hearts, our minds, and our souls to be more in line with His plan. In uncertain times, it makes sense to put your hope and trust in the one thing that you know is certain… God. So allow Him to change you, transform you, and mold you into the person He needs you to be by the end of this crisis and imagine what a great world we could have!
While you may not be learning the same lessons that I’ve learned over the past few weeks, if you take the time to soul search and touch base with God, I’m sure He will point out to you the ways that He is guiding you to change. Remember, while this is a scary and uncertain time, it won’t last forever and it’s up to you how you will allow it to change your life going forward.