The last few months have been interesting in many ways. The calendar turned from 2019 to 2020, and January welcomed a booming economy and the freshness of beginning a new decade with optimism and confidence. East Texas phenom Patrick Mahomes was crowned Super Bowl MVP. March Madness was right around the corner. The stock market reached new highs. Unemployment reached new lows. Life seemed within our perceived grasp of control as a society. Valentine’s Day. Ski trips. Business conferences. Spring Break and warmer weather right around the corner.
Then came whispers of some strange illness that originated on the other side of the world. Coronavirus. COVID-19. Is it like the flu? Is it a big deal? Should we be concerned? Will it spread to the U.S.? Epicenters. Cruise ship breakouts. Travel bans. Event cancellations. Distance learning. Zoom meetings. Online church. Face masks. Task Force briefings. Stay at Home orders. Social distancing. Curve flattening. Economic shutdown. Stimulus checks. These were terms and concepts that were far from our conscious radar even four months ago. Yet, how completely and suddenly our lives have changed in such a short period of time due to something no one could have foreseen…a global pandemic!
Pain and fear have gripped our society. Some has certainly been legitimate, and some has been unnecessarily spread through polarizing news outlets and social media. Still, this health crisis, and the ensuing economic fallout has flipped life upside down for many people. Jobs have been lost at an alarming pace, and many have been forced to take drastic measures to make ends meet. While the debate rages on about how the pandemic and reopening strategies should be handled, real people have faced real challenges, and the storm clouds are unlikely to dissipate any time soon. Yet in the middle of the chaos, we’ve all had a most unique opportunity to evaluate our lives and what we value most during this strange time.
The pandemic has compelled us to slow down, clear our calendars, and refocus on the things that are most important…that which is essential. No practices or games to attend, no extracurricular activities, no weekend outings, no upcoming trips or appointments to keep. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things…in fact, most of us find ourselves longing to resume some of those activities and to get back to the togetherness we enjoy about communities we live in. However, our family has greatly benefited by simply spending (a lot) more time together as a unit, taking family walks, playing games and watching movies together. In the midst of some cabin fever and familial conflict at times (who’s immune to that?), we’ve found rich soul refreshment in having a schedule that is free to just enjoy growing together as a family and in our faith, and in looking for creative ways to serve and bless others (from a distance) during this difficult time.
I believe we will look back on Pandemic 2020 as one of the most formative and life altering times in our lives, in a good way. In fact, in some ways, we’re grieving the thought of going back to “normal,” whatever the new normal might look like. We’ve realized that our lives pre-coronavirus were too busy. We’ve learned that filling our schedules to the brim, even with good things, is not helpful for living a life of purpose and lasting impact. We are actively praying and talking about what we will and will not allow back into our lives post-coronavirus. How great to remember that we do get a choice in the matter! As a friend of mine put it recently, “COVID-19 slammed some doors shut in our lives, and some of those doors need to just stay shut!”
So, as you reflect on your life before COVID-19, and as you consider what you’ve learned during this pandemic experience, I encourage you to give careful thought to what your life needs to look like on The Other Side. You’re here for a purpose, and your life matters. With that in mind, be sure to align your time, money, and talents with your life purpose. You won’t regret it.