Overcome the Aloneness of Social Distancing
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The quiet in my house is loud. Emails, phone, and social media connect me to the world, but waving to neighbors and brief conversations with my grocery-delivering daughter are often my only face-to-face contact.
Even if we’re not sick in a pandemic, we still lose something precious: time spent with people we love. As one in the vulnerable category, I am staying home. For me, this means no hugs from grandchildren, no visits with friends, and no family around my dining room table for Sunday meals. Bible study moved from a circle of women to Zoom meetings on a screen. Church became online worship.
Instead of pouting, I determined to make the most of my days. I remembered the prayer of King Jehoshaphat from my Bible study. Faced with the prospect of a great army coming against him, in the assembly of all to hear, he cried out,
“O our God … We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (ESV)
No army is coming against me, but my life’s been altered significantly. I could easily get discouraged by loneliness, news reports, and confinement. Each morning, Jehoshaphat’s prayer has become mine, “I don’t know what You want me to do, Lord, but my eyes are on You to show me.”
The answer came, not in an audible voice, but looking at stacked boxes in a closet.
“There are projects you never had time for: going through photos, making photo books, and sorting memorabilia. Now you have time.” I completed those projects. Although the organization and clutter removal pleased me, the real blessing came in recognizing and remembering God’s faithfulness in my life. Those pictures reveal the legacy of immigrant grandparents, friendships through the years, houses we lived in, job changes, and the birth of children who grew up to love the Lord.
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. (ESV)
At one point, I lamented: Days are long. I’m not doing very much.
The impression was clear, “You may be socially distant from others, but not from Me. Use this time to grow.” With my coffee, Bible, devotionals, and journal, my quiet time had no limit. Familiar Bible passages had new application. Scripture now popped from the page.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1 NIV
Another day: I have nowhere to go.
I looked at my empty calendar and began to evaluate how to fill in spaces when shelter at home orders are lifted. How much do I do out of obligation? Where should I invest my time? I thought about differences between necessary or desirable.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 NIV
A better day: I can do two things at the same time.
It is possible to shelter in place and reach out at a distance. I know two grieving families; others are alone and lonely. Prayer, calls, cards, and texts are a ministry. I delivered wrapped treats to my neighbors and supported a young couple having a backyard wedding by waving to them in a drive-by.
Therefore encourage one another… 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
In years to come, we will share memories of this unique time in history when we lived through a pandemic. Hopefully, we will talk about the paradox of growing while there was no place to go, remembering God’s faithfulness in places and people, going deeper while staying in place, and reaching out to others though still at home. And above all, we can remember Jehoshaphat’s prayer is relevant in all seasons.
Copyright © May 2020 Marilyn Nutter, used with permission.
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