The only way to discuss the social evil is to get at once to the social ideal. We can all see the national madness; but what is national sanity? ...
Over the past couple of weeks, more and more emphasis has been placed on social-distancing. We are finding ourselves within our homes, as sheep, once freely pastured, suddenly behind a closed gate of limitations.
For homeschooling families, being at home together day after day is a very familiar situation. Yet, we are aware that this is not quite the same pasture we once enjoyed. We lift up our heads from our lackadaisical grazing. What are these new boundaries surrounding us? Why do we suddenly long for the grass now on the other side of this new fence?
We, as people so used to surplus and plenty, are painfully aware of our newfound lack. Whatever your opinion may be of the government's involvement in the matter, the lack of modern conveniences are felt by all right now. We feel the lack of assurance that our store will have toilet paper to sell us (as one of our children on any given occasion may happen to flush half a roll down the toilet); the lack of physical social interaction as we try to comfort each other via social media; Lack of security as we wonder whose information we can trust; Lack of confidence as we wonder if we should buy more hand-sanitizer or precious metals. Lack of a sense of normalcy as we seek to define what normal ought to be.
Lack is the opposite of surplus. "You don't know what you have until it's gone" is an old adage that is entirely applicable to our current situation. Human nature seems to respond to lack with a strong desire to fill the void. (Perhaps that's what people were trying with toilet paper...)
With all of these sudden voids experienced across the world, an implosion is a natural response. If we aren't careful, it would be very easy for these voids to implode with fears, worry, anxiety, and misplaced loyalties.
However, I contend that this seemingly-bleak, sudden lack we are experiencing could prove to be a blessing to ourselves, our families, the culture, and the world if we face it with intentionality. Being emptied, we can be filled afresh with that which is good.
Emptied of complacency; filled with vigilance.
Emptied of entitlement; filled with gratitude.
Emptied of an excess of social connections; filled with deeper family connections.
Emptied of superficial; filled with meaningful.
Emptied of false securities; filled with everlasting security.
In other words, we can use this current pandemic situation as an opportunity for pursuing and promoting what is good, for pouring into others and allowing ourselves to be poured into with goodness, truth, beauty, and ingenuity. We cannot allow the voids to be filled with stress, fear, bickering, or frustration, though it's easier said than done.
Areas of life about which I never before imagined could be stressful have become sources for concern. I mean, we've been down to our last roll of toilet paper in the house before, but I've never wondered whether I could find more at the store. Seeing a once fully-stocked store stripped of eggs and produce is a huge blow for my surplus-accustomed self.
When I allow worry to implode that space that used to be full of circumstantial surety, I become overwhelmed by things I can't control. I may even follow fear-based solution efforts rather than reason-based pursuits. A lack of usual store and restaurant options could fill me with concern for the welfare of small businesses in my town, not to mention the entire economy, but instead it could spur me to support the local businesses as I'm able by ordering takeout and curbside from those that are open. The focus needs to be on the good that we can pursue, instead of fear of what we can't control.
I'm realizing I've had many false securities, and I'm having to own up to them now.
Wherein is my delight? Have I been content only because I have plenty, or can I truly echo Paul's words in Philippians 4: " ...I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.I can do all things through him who strengthens me." ? Am I satisfied because I get to enjoy local restaurants, or is my satisfaction in having constant access to the Bread of Life? Do I lean too much on play-dates and extracurricular activities to sustain my relationship with my children, or when that is taken away do we still have a solid foundation of meaningful connections and quality time together, giving each other the gift of our presence? Do I blow small problems out of proportion, or have I woken up to the fact that there are severely more significant issues we could have to deal with in life? Am I finally OK that I can't 'do it all' because the rest of the world has been stripped down to essentials, and also not able to 'do it all'?
What voids have been created around you by the recent chaos that you have some control over? Let's be intentional about imploding those voids with all things good, true, and beautiful!
Just before the COVID-choas broke out, I had been struggling to regularly find time to fill my own cup in order that I could pour into my children from something better than a stagnant heart, mind, and soul. Life gets like that sometimes: there have been children who enter into certain high-maintenance phases (e.g. toddlers), new puppies, home projects, busy schedules, and other various things which alter life and make focused study and personal growth less frequent. Ever so subtly, I realized that my empty cup was adding to the stress of our home during a time that was already unsettling, even to little ones who don't quite verbalize it as adults do. The good that I can pursue within my home right now is to fill my cup with truth and beauty, taking care of my own heart and directing my own focus first, so that I can better direct my children with confidence and assurance, ensuring their cups are filling with truth and beauty as well.
God has allowed this slower pace of life to grip the world, and I'm seizing the opportunity to be deliberate in light of the lack.
Now, more than ever, I am re-evaluating priorities, and making time not only to fill up my mom-tank, but to pay attention to what is filling it, and what I am pouring into those around me.
I'm so thankful to those who are continuing to counter this worldwide chaos with a vision of goodness, truth, and beauty: Those online, offering encouragement, support, and insight, in the physical community, providing basic supplies to neighbors, and especially to those within the walls of my own home, with whom I am learning to live more intentionally each day.
"We all have need to be trained to see, and to have our eyes opened before we can take in the joy that is meant for us in this beautiful life."