Our new normal is challenging and overwhelming. I have been home with our three children since the schools closed. We have two sets of grandparents within 20 miles of us, yet, I feel irresponsible asking them for help caring for the kids. Fear of one of our children being a carrier for COVID-19 prevents Andy and I from seeking help with childcare. Andy’s father has a degenerative lung condition and is already on oxygen and therefore extremely high risk. My mother is doing her best to keep my 1-year old niece for my brother and sister-in-law. They live in Asheville and are concerned about their job security. So, in our attempt to “flatten the curve,” we are home as much as possible. Our kitchen has become our school classroom, and my attempts at “working from home” have been pitiful to say the least. Every morning, I wake up well before the sunrise. I lament all the things I have left undone, all the tasks I wish I could do, and pray in earnest for those I love, all of you in our greater church family, and ask God for strength, patience, peace, and guidance.
I know every single person who is reading this can identify with my reflection in some way. That’s what is so bizarrely beautiful about life in these pandemic times. I am reminded as I attempt to fully potty train my 3 year old while going over sight words with my Kindergartener as I check on the status of our 3rd grader’s assignment progress and I miss calls from you all because I’m attempting to be 4 places at once, that this is the reality of so many. This is the reality of ½ of the households in America. I am not alone.
Yet, even in the midst of the swirl of emotions, the immense stress, growing anxiety, and palpable fear, God’s grace breaks in. My reality is not what I had hoped, yet the power of God’s presence is continually surprising. I’m encouraged when I hear stories of people giving to others in our community. I’m encouraged hearing about how people are communicating with each other through actual live phone calls (or FaceTime), when an email or a text sufficed before. I’m encouraged when I see communities coming together to support and love on one another – communities that have been living divisive realities before. I’m encouraged when I see people across America using the hashtag #bettertogether on social media. They stole our catch phrase! I’m encouraged when I consider the ways our relationships will be made stronger because of these times. I’m encouraged when anyone offers me grace for not being able to be the pastor I want to be right now, even though my guilt is my strongest emotion. God’s grace is truly amazing.
Join me in maintaining our connections with one another. Pick up the phone and call the people you usually sit next to in worship, those in you Sunday school classes, your small group members, those you haven’t seen in church in a while. Resist the awkwardness, and be bold. Commit to check in on them weekly to find out how they are feeling, ask them if they have needs, and pray with one another. We have more time than ever (those of us quarantined) to sit and think. When your mind wanders and you wonder about how someone is dealing, act upon that wonder. That’s the Holy Spirit nudging you to make the call. Our ability to practice our faith is not something that’s closed or canceled or limited. Let’s embrace our new reality together, and by the grace of God, thrive in it.