Let me go back in time. Not too long, but only six months ago when the virus outbreak hadn’t occurred yet. I was complaining about the 422 traffic, and upset that the supermarket next to my house did not have my favorite deodorant.
Soon after, due to the pandemic, America was under lockdown like many others. When I was indoors, I realized how beautiful and blessed I was to have the life which I otherwise assumed was regular and usual. Little did I know that I was taking things for granted and complaining about the most trivial problems.
When I look back now, I notice many special areas of life whose importance I failed to understand earlier.
I had the choice to go wherever I wished and do whatever I wanted.
I had the freedom to live life like I wanted to. No holds barred, and no questions asked. It was my life and my choice.
Staying indoors has taught me losing control of the fundamental aspects of your life makes you uncomfortable. These are the things we consider usual and expected. We only realize the value of them when they vanish.
Life and technology have evolved by leaps and bounds over the years. In fact, life today is drastically different from what it was a decade ago. Back then, you needed to carry a digital camera for photos, self-driving cars hadn’t hit the road yet, and group messages were not even a thing.
Now, we enjoy so many benefits from the comfort of our couch. You can order food, get your car washed, or send a package to your friend without stepping outside your front door.
3. The fun outside
No matter which city you live in, you have umpteen opportunities to have fun and relax. I had the option to watch any movie I like, go bowling no matter how bad I was at it, or enjoy the adrenaline of a kart race.
Even though I had very many ways to have fun, I compared my city with others. I complained, “My city has no options to enjoy nature. I have to go miles away for a trek.” When I was locked in and resorting to board games, I realize how fun-filled my city actually is.
4. The human interaction
Both introverts or extroverts need at least some form of interaction to feel connected with the rest of the world.
5. The power of teams
Before, whenever we had to solve a problem at work, we would gather in a room and exchange ideas. Many complex issues found a solution because human beings can improve on each other’s thoughts to reach the desired outcome.
Today, facilitating such a conversation is a nightmare. Video conferencing tools provide a viable workaround for one on one discussions and team meetings where everyone shares updates. But they cannot replace a bunch of smart people sitting in a real room discussing ideas at tandem.
Moreover, teams who see each other every day, gel along better. The physical presence creates a bond beyond just work relationships. It is the strength of such bonds that facilitates organizations to achieve massive goals.
I realize the power of teams, even more today when they cannot operate like they used to.
6. The giant web of economy
The economy is like a huge castle constructed of many individual Lego blocks. When you take one out, you feel no difference. Take another out, still not too big of a pinch. Take a few more out, and the entire structure collapses into mayhem.
Different parts of the economy are interdependent, even if they do not seem apparent. Shutting down public transport left many people unemployed and unable to earn their daily wages. A lack of transportation implied goods couldn’t flow freely. As a result, we did not have all the supplies in your supermarket.
Every contributor to the economy helps it remain steady. When everything runs well, you do not notice their contribution. When a few portions break, you understand their role in keeping the whole structure stable together.
So what have been the spiritual insights I have learned from lockdown?
The past weeks of the lockdown have taught me some invaluable lessons I will remember for the rest of my life.
1. Enjoy the present.
I will continue pursuing goals like before, and so should you. But while you are on this journey, don’t forget to pause and experience the happiness around you.
Do not lose the sense of the present by solely focusing on the future.
2. You feel the pain only when something is missing.
Some of the things of your day to day life seem normal and expected. For example:
You expect to find all you need in a supermarket. You expect the pizza to arrive within thirty minutes
Over time, such expectations make you lose the value of little things in life. Don’t take such things for granted. You never know why and how they can be snatched away from you. You only feel the pain when you lose the privilege altogether.
3. Your emotions are defined by what you choose to see.
No matter who you are, what you do, and which part of the world you belong to, you always see what you want to see. If you want to complain, you will find a ton of things around you which aren’t right. If you seek happiness, you will notice so many parts of your life which are a reason to rejoice.
Everyone shows a common reaction when things go well. Someone gives a toast, people clink their glasses, and everyone dances to the music. But you cannot always control the world around you to work in your favor. The market can collapse, a natural calamity can occur, or a virus outbreak can happen. What you can control is how you respond to such calamities to stay strong. Your reaction to such events is what defines you.
The global pandemic due to COVID -19 made our lives harder. But, on the positive side, it has made us stronger.
For June’s article of Musings, I want to talk about change but from a theological viewpoint. Due to the recent COVID, and now as you will seek an interim pastor, St. Luke’s is experiencing change.
Change is inevitable. Biblically and theologically speaking, change is essential and part of God’s creation. Creation involved change – from nothing, from the formless void, to a beautiful creation. Unlike many world views in which time is cyclical, inescapable, or meaningless, Biblical time is purposeful, forward moving, and climaxing in the fulfillment of God’s promises and plan.
However not all things change. First, God does not change. God is relationally dynamic; that is to say, God is personal and lovingly and graciously interacts with all of creation. God does not change in nature, character, or attributes.
Human condition has not changed. From the fall of Adam and Eve, all humans who have every lived (save for Jesus) have been sinners by nature and by choice. No matter how good or how bad any individual person’s actions may be, all have fallen short of what God expects and demands.
Change, even chaotic change, can be good. Studies in chaos and complexity theory have shown that equilibrium leads to stagnation which leads to death. Change, and even moving to the edge of chaos, is what causes living systems to adapt, find new solutions, and improve. The disturbances caused by change and chaos can be, in fact, life savers. Remember how God brought radical change to Israel, often through her worst enemies.
The key, therefore, is how we evaluate change. Should we embrace it or resist it?
What is actually changing? As America changes rapidly, the church must clearly identify the changes worth confronting. How often are we expending energy simply resisting change that affects our sentimentality about life and culture and our preferences about the church?
How can and will God use change for His glory? As hard as it is, we need to work to see the biggest picture possible – God’s. What is He doing through these changes? What does He want to do in my individual life, in my church, and through believers in America and around the world? How are these changes moving us toward the fulfillment of His promises?
Change is rarely comfortable. I am convinced that more often than not God is waiting for us to seize the moment, “making the most of the time” (Col. 4:5b), internally and externally to our society.