What is normal?
I awakened to a vice gripping my heart yesterday. Anxiety? Maybe. Dread? I don’t know. As I have lived out the past two months and we begin the process of reopening our country I am taking a long, hard look at what God has taught me and what He is calling us to change as a result.
First of all the way we lived before the shutdown was not normal. Guys, I put 30-40 THOUSAND miles on my car per year. Some days I drove as much as three hundred miles only to arrive home exhausted with a sink full of dishes and crabby kids. We ate out all the time and our bodies were showing it. Why? What was it gaining us?
But for the past two months, despite the stress and fear surrounding the “you-know-what” (because I am tired of the word) I have seen my son’s eczema clear up completely, my daughter discover that she does, in fact, like salad, and cooked more that I have cooked since my kids were little. We have eaten dinner as a family, prayed together, worked puzzles and played games while music poured out of the kitchen. We have binge-watched Gilmore Girls and The Office and just started watching The Chosen (So good!) We have also started serving as a family, working together to make hundreds of meals that have been shared with the poor and homeless in our community. We have made messes and gotten tired of being indoors to the point where just going for a walk feels like a treat.
As it should.
I remember, years ago, when we lived in Galveston, Texas. My husband was in residency and my group of friends was mostly medical wives with babies. We met up every morning at 6:30am to walk, a parade of strollers and chatty young moms who were just happy to be in each other’s company. We were all broke, squeaking by on a Resident’s salary while we gladly sacrificed to be home with our little ones. Once a week, we would converge upon one of our homes and fill it with laughter and prayers while our toddlers gorged on popcorn. Social media had not been invented. Texting was brand new and awkward. Face-to-face and phone conversations were all we knew. We cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner because eating out was too expensive. Restaurants were special treats reserved for date nights and the occasional Whataburger run (can I get a hallelujah?).
We dreamed of life after Residency, of nicer homes and shiny hardwood floors. We imagined how nice it would be to go to a restaurant and order a glass of wine, maybe even dessert. To not freak out when we had to call a plumber because we could afford to pay the bill.
As the years of training went by, women ahead of us, who had moved on to life after Residency, would come back to visit and they all had the same advice: Enjoy this time.
They encouraged us to appreciate the life we had at that moment–to recognize the sweetness of getting a 99¢ ice cream cone from McDonald’s being a big deal. Because life is going to get busy and complicated in the real world and we will eventually miss these days.
They were right.
Now, as I look at the last two months I feel like God gave us a priceless gift amid the hard. We got a chance to relive that slow pace, to remember what brings joy and peace to our homes, and to just hang together in the living room after dinner that mom made and, hey, there are leftovers in the fridge for tomorrow. We don’t need all the activities, all the shopping, and all the Starbucks (Yes, I said it). The coffee from my very own maker tastes really good and I can flavor it up just fine. Heck, I have even been enjoying afternoon tea because I have time.
Do you remember last year when I went away on the writing retreat? While I was gone, I kept a detailed journal of what I experienced and I am would like to share it with you as a gift. When I pulled it out last week and read it I realized God had used that retreat to give me a preview of what I would experience during this shutdown. I read that journal with fresh eyes and gratitude. There are things He is teaching me that keep being repeated and I feel sharing them might be a blessing to you. As the country reopens, escaping to that little sheep farm in Georgia might be just the reminder you need to keep life simple when you are tempted to take too much on.
I am formatting the journal for Kindle and paperback but, if you would like a copy now, I would be happy to email the EPub or PDF file to you as a gift. (The cover may change once it is on Amazon, but this is what I have so far) I only ask that you share this post and leave a comment letting me know that you did so along with your email address (and whether you prefer PDF or EPub format) so I can send the file. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the information if you are more comfortable doing that.
Keep life simple, friends. Don’t settle for what we were enduring before. That wasn’t life. It certainly was not the abundance we thought we were living. It was shallow, exhausting and life-draining. Be intentional about being home together. Hug your kids often. Look them in the eyes and realize what a gift you have been given by being entrusted with their lives. Continue cooking and exercising. Keep a book at hand and read it. Spend time with God and let Him fill your hours His way.
Blessings to you all as we begin this new season. May the Lord give us wisdom and health as we move forward.