Over the last few weeks, we as the world have been given an opportunity to see the positive in a devastating situation. We have been allowed time to slow down, think, process, reflect, and react. It’s been a hard few weeks for some and an even harder few weeks for others.
But this is hardly a competition. Our realities are all different and coming face-to-face with situations none of us have had to navigate has united us in a way that nothing else could have.
God literally has cleared our schedules. What made our worlds turn has now been stripped from us through no choice of our own. Many of us see a resemblance of this in our everyday lives. This Coronavirus outbreak, for me, has allowed me to use the skills I have learned through my widowhood to a degree which helps me process this differently than some others might. When my husband passed, I lost all control and I had no say in my new life.
This has become the new normal for many of us, in different ways. Control has been removed from a lot of us and for those who have a hard time trusting, we have been given no choice but to rely on forces outside of ourselves for answers.
Watching my social media feeds has been interesting these past few weeks. I have learned so much about those around me.
I’ll start with a few observations.
1.). I have learned what people truly value.
This should be obvious. When we are taken out of our sense of control, and we are no longer able to do what our normal lives would have us do, we feel anxious and even afraid. I have learned that many placed value on activities outside the home – weekly restaurant time was a cherished event for families after Sunday church services or on Friday night after a long work week. Sports have been canceled, which has broken the hearts of many who have spent all year waiting for opening day or a particular tournament. Beauty routines were interrupted – those who valued pampering and can no longer get their nails fixed or their hair done have expressed how they will need to adjust to not getting services they are used to having.
The panic buying has shown that people value being prepared and have a fear of going without. However, some have been unable to prepare. Some families do not have the funds to supply basics, nevertheless “panic buy” things. So these people don’t care about beauty routines, sports, or anything else. They care about meeting the basic needs of their families and are afraid they may not be able to due to stores having difficulties remaining stocked of the items that were once taken for granted.
This time of reflection on what we value as people gives us an opportunity to adjust our focus. What have we placed value on that could really take a backseat? I have a feeling we will learn very shortly what we can truly live without and what things actually are essential to living and not just essential to comfort.
2.). People like to be in control.
I reflected today on the actions of some I have witnessed over the years. When our sense of control is removed, we panic. For those who are used to being in control, and those who may even have personality disorders (narcissistic, self-absorbed) used to having all the answers, used to being “right”, for lack of a better term, the fact that they can no longer control many aspects of their lives has been detrimental to their mental health. Personally, I have been in situations where my life has been controlled from afar even before the virus; I’ve been told what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and what will happen if I don’t do it — by people who do not walk my widowed, solo parent reality and never have walked it. (And, God willing, won’t walk it.). Now that those people cannot control anything else, their grip on controlling other people has become tighter. They cannot control when they will go back to work, if they will go out to eat, if they get to go out on a date or a weekend with friends, if they will attend a sporting event, when they will go to the gym or the collected places where they used to socialize, etc. so they will look to have control in more unhealthy ways… which oftentimes involves the people around them.
You have the power to say no to these people. Unless they are willing to jump into your ocean and help you through the tide, then you do not have to let them try to tell you how to swim through it. If you’re drowning and a perfectly capable swimmer does not try to jump in to save you, you now know what they value over you.
Control becomes a tricky subject here. Is this God’s way of saying, “Now that I have your attention and it’s out of your hands… will you finally trust Me?”
3.) People will do what is necessary to maintain a connection.
“Social Distancing” has created a physical gap between us. Have you thought about how, such as during a time like this, that technology truly is a blessing when used appropriately? What would we do in our modern day age if we were told to go quarantine and not come out for weeks? Because of technology, schools can still provide educational services. Because of technology, we can reach across the world and visit our friends and family even if we aren’t allowed to physically touch them. Technology has allowed churches to reach their congregations with uplifting messages of hope and praise while we “wait in the hallway”.
Humans need connections and because we have technology, we can still meet the need for interaction with our world. It just looks a little different than what we are used to right now. Who knows how long this may be our new norm?
4.). I have learned how others choose to spend their time.
Similar to learning what we value, we can see how those around us choose to use the “new” time granted to them. What are they doing with their days? There are some who still have to physically go into work. There are others who are expected to meet new guidelines as they begin working from home. There are others who have to readjust schedules of their whole families to accommodate the need to work from home while still making sure their school-aged children participate in meaningful, educational activities. (In my opinion, now is the time to teach the older kids how to balance check books, do simple sewing, how to cook, how to fish, how to do laundry, clean, etc. and allow the younger kids time to explore opportunities while still teaching them essentials.).
For those who fall somewhere in between, this is an amazing time to find time to finish a project, start a new hobby, work on fitness goals, and dedicate some time to things that you never made time for before.
Just because you can sleep in doesn’t mean you should. You’ve been given time. Think about that – for some of us, all we wished for before was time. Now we have it. How are we going to invest in it?
5.). You find out who YOU are.
Whoa. What? Guess what? You’re the person you spend the most time with! But now that you have been stripped of the pleasures that you used to enjoy, who are you? Were you defined by those sporting events, beauty treatments, etc. that you cherished?
This may be a sensitive topic, but it is one I myself experienced after losing my husband. Who are you? What do you want out of life, or maybe even more importantly, what does the world need from YOU? You have time to make a difference. You have time to make some changes. You have time to process, reflect, and react (my new favorite mantra as an introverted woman). So how are you going to do it?
Maybe this wasn’t the most helpful post, but I found it therapeutic as I deal with some of the thoughts I’ve allowed to enter my mind. This is new for some – having time to stop and think is new. This can open windows to a beautiful new possibility or it can open up a door to a new darkness. I have been in both during these last five years.
Take some of the time you have been given and think about who you are, what you value, and what you can do to stay connected to those who need your presence. We truly are all in this together and as we all navigate our new norm, we will need each other more than ever.
Stay healthy, stay safe, and help one another. ❤