Initially, I resisted the impulse to write a post about COVID-19 for fear it would fall flat . . . just another organization trying to share their opinion. But a recent afternoon walk led to a few thoughts that I thought were worth passing along.
The two core feelings I’m battling right now are fear and loneliness. Fear of the unknown, fear of losing control, fear of losing everything, fear of homeschooling my kids. And loneliness . . . if this lasts for the long haul, will I be forgotten by those outside my house? Will this isolation create tension with those inside my house, in my relationships with my wife and my kids?
Scrolling social media and watching the news tells me I’m not alone in these feelings. I see three main categories of lonely people right now . . .
- Those who have to be alone – For some, there is no choice. You are isolated. It could be simply because you live alone, or it could be because you have symptoms of illness, or are considered high-risk and need to be extra cautious.
- Those who choose to be alone – In some cases, you may have friends and family with you in your home, or colleagues and others outside your home, but either way, you’re choosing to isolate yourself further, whether physically or emotionally.
- Those who are together and alone – For others, you are not used to being at home, and the new world of togetherness you find yourself in feels foreign and maybe even overwhelming.
I know for me, in this past week, I’ve had moments where I chose to be alone and others where I’ve struggled with being together and alone. Here are a few practical things that might help us fight our loneliness.
Prayer walking. When you need some physical activity or some fresh air, go for a run or walk. As you do, ask God to put the names of people on your heart. Ask him who you need to reach out to and how you can pray for your neighbors.
Picking up the phone. Many of us, but especially men, are battling loneliness and are afraid to tell anyone out of fear we might appear weak or out of control. Someone needs to take the first step. If you’re a mentor, pick up the phone and call your mentees. Remind them you’re there to pray for them and to be a friend when they feel overwhelmed in the coming weeks. If you’re a mentee, call the guys in your group, and do the same. For all of us, let’s be the type of friends who sticks closer than brothers.
Leveraging technology. Use FaceTime or Zoom for some needed face-to-face time. You’ve probably already done it with your coworkers, but it works just as well for your extended family, your friends, your small group, and your mentoring group (mine met last night – more to come from us on how to navigate these new waters)
Playing worship music. At my house, we’ve have been playing worship music this week. Some moments we keep it quiet and, in the background, and other times we turn it up and play it throughout the house. It creates a sense of peace in our home, reminding us that God is in control, and He has not forgotten us.
Establishing family rituals. Amidst our chaotic world, there is increased importance on family rituals and stability. Take advantage of this extra time at home and build some daily activities into your new schedule. At the Harris home, we’re eating breakfast together, reading a devotional together, and getting outside together to play basketball or throw the baseball. At night, we play a game or watch a movie together.
All of us have the unique opportunity to respond to this situation in a way that changes our faith and the faith of those closest to us. My prayer is that when we get through this (and we will), we’ll better understand the meaning of family and community and better appreciate our need for rest, rhythm, and sabbath.
Scripture: “For God did not give us a Spirit of Fear but of power, love, and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
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