How might life after COVID-19 look?
I could speculate. I could research and provide countless references linked to the trajectory of future economic happenings, how the price of oil will (hopefully) make a comeback, how our office conditions might look, and how public outings might be affected.
But none of that is concrete. Nothing is certain. Predictions are simply guesses—however informed.
What I do know is that there are essential lessons we can (and should) reap from this pandemic.
There are learning points that ought to seep into the core of how we choose to live our lives and spend our days—post quarantine.
Quarantine with three under three
As a stay-at-home mom of three under three, my life hasn’t radically changed in the same way many people have experienced. But my husband’s world has been turned upside down.
Michael has been forced to adjust to days filled with the ceaseless needs of toddlers and infants. His mind has been inundated with tantrums, babbling children, and the sound of our breadmaker (which apparently drives him bananas).
Our days blur as endless patterns of the same events circulate over and over again. We wake up, feed the children, do laundry and dishes, put our twins down for their morning nap, prepare lunch, get the twins up from nap, feed everyone, play . . . and the list goes on.
And between the much too familiar cycle of the mundane, we have been forced to navigate remote work meetings and tasks, with toddler shrills and infant demands muffled in the background. Needless to say: Michael cannot wait to get back into a normal rhythm of leaving the house.
Our struggles are not unique
Though it sometimes hurts my feelings that this form of life (my everyday life) is such torture to him, I understand. Housework and raising children are not his heart. And I’m fairly certain Michael and I aren’t alone in our struggles.
Stay-at-home moms around the world are likely facing very similar situations. A wise friend recently shared that we are never as unique as we might think. Our struggles and hardships are probably more common than we expect. Her wisdom struck me. It also validated my emotions surrounding this season of life.
My working-mom friends are also facing difficulties in light of stay-at-home orders. Many have confessed to a certain degree of guilt surrounding an unexpected difficulty in around-the-clock care for their children and homes. No matter our position, no matter how much or how little this pandemic has shifted our daily lives, the simple truth is that it has been hard.
But when life does pick back up, when our whirlwind pace resumes, how might we be changed by the disease that abruptly pulled the metaphorical rug from beneath our feet?
Here are five lessons I have learned during this stay-at-home initiative. I hope that they will meet you as life slowly shifts toward a more normal pattern of daily events.
- Stand firm in a Sabbath practice
If nothing else, quarantine has taught me the value of rest. It is strange, since I wasn’t regularly leaving the house prior to COVID-19. But something about the demanded slower pace of our entire nation has reminded me of the importance of an intentional stillness in our Creator’s embrace.
In Exodus 31:13, the Lord speaks to Moses, “Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations.” Even the Israelites faced the same busyness that plagues our hearts and minds today. They struggled with too much activity and not enough balance in the practice of a faithful life.
While this virus might be novel, our daily struggles are not. Let us turn to Scripture and pursue rest despite our worldly circumstance—quarantine or otherwise.
- Engage in an intentional presence within our homes
In an age when our fingertips rarely stray from smartphones and laptops, when we often spend too much time dressed in business casual behind a desk, this pandemic has forced a slower pace and much more time at home. And while these forced stay-at-home moments may feel grueling, as daily restrictions recede and life picks up, my hope is that we will remember to practice intentionality when we are home.
When we eat dinner as families, let us recall these moments of uninterrupted quality time and attempt to put the stresses of our lives on mute. When we read bedtime stories, let us try to shut out our mental to-do lists and truly engage with our children.
And when it seems that life is too busy to breathe, let us pause and go on a hike with our loved ones. Work and to-do lists will always be present, but these moments in life are fleeting.
May our time at home, these forced stay-at-home days, teach us to pursue intentional moments with our children, spouses, and most importantly—the Lord.
In Matthew 11:28–30, we are invited to come to God with all of our wearisome toil. We are reminded that he will take our burdens and give us rest. But first, we must surrender our hardships and allow him to infiltrate the core of our daily happenings.
Meditative intentionality, whether during alone time with the Lord or while sitting in the presence of our loved ones, offers the space in which we can receive rest and freedom from the entrapments of our chaotic lives.
- Refuse to take life’s small luxuries for granted
I may be quite odd (truthfully, I’m definitely not normal), but something about strolling down the aisles of a grocery store brings joy to the essence of my being. I love to select the freshest produce, aimlessly peruse the seafood and meat counters, and discover my new favorite foodie finds.
I savor the smell of freshly baked breads and delight in the grocery store’s seemingly endless selections of cheese. Drop me off at Central Market or Trader Joe’s and I could spend hours exploring to my heart’s content.
Given the pandemic, I haven’t even stepped foot in a grocery store. My husband has been our food supply go-to, efficiently sweeping the aisles of Costco when we run low on edible items. And while grocery store visits might be a silly example, Americans all over the country are missing life’s simple pleasures.
Whatever brings you joy, do it with all of your heart. That could be family gatherings, the vibes of a swanky coffeehouse, sporting events, a day at the hair salon, or a simple hug (this one is real big for me: I just want to hug my people). As the writer of Psalm 118 advises, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (v. 24).
When restrictions are lifted and the small pleasures of life become possible again, we must make an effort to slow our pace and enjoy them. Busyness often gets the best of us, stealing the joy of our everyday experiences. Remember to rejoice in the small things and take captive the little moments—they are a gift not meant to be squandered.
- Remember that anything can happen—we are not in control
Life on earth does not offer certainty. Every day brings new (and often unexpected) challenges. And this pandemic has only made the frailty of our daily happenings all the more clear.
COVID-19 has rocked our health care system, economic state, and political agendas. This disease has placed its devastating hand on every facet of our lives. What we are left with is a reminder that we are not in control.
Proverbs 21:20 highlights the need to evaluate whether we are practicing foresight and restraint in our finances: “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.”
Are we budgeting and living within our means? Are we saving as best we can, striving to provide a safety net for tough times?
Let us all strive to emerge from this peculiar situation with a renewed perspective, ready to practice diligence in our spending, saving, and efforts to prepare for a rainy day (or novel disease).
- Exercise your creativity
During Quarantine 2020, creativity has gone viral. It has become a contagious bug that many have caught. Exploring and delighting in the creativity God has placed in our hearts has brought joy to many a weary stay-at-home soul.
Families across the country are getting crafty and knocking out DIY household projects. My sister-in-law can literally do anything. She captures beautiful photos, bakes the most delicious (and prettiest) cookie cakes, and sews her family’s annual Halloween costumes. So I wasn’t surprised to learn she had installed a flawless shiplap wall in her daughter’s big-girl room.
The Avidon household has practiced some serious kitchen creativity during our COVID-19 quarantine. We’ve used bananas or yogurt when we lacked eggs. We have opted for whipped butternut squash when sweet potatoes were requested. And we’ve learned to adore a frozen Costco veggie. We’ve even put on our science goggles and subbed baking soda and lemon juice for baking powder.
Whatever creative outlet has spoken to you during your time at home, may you continually pursue it when quarantine is lifted. If you are great at painting—paint! If you are an excellent chef—bake, cook, or grill! If you are a master of DIY household projects—get to work. Whatever sets your soul on fire, do it with all of your heart (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Find the time to exercise the passions God has instilled within you.
How will you be changed?
Whenever these restrictions lift, and they will eventually, may our hearts and minds be forever impacted by the lessons the novel coronavirus has left in its wake.
May we strive to live a little slower and a little more intentionally.
May we be more present in our homes and more deliberate about our quiet time with the Lord.
And may we take the time to do the things that bring us joy.