During our last staff meeting with Pastor Craig before he went on his 3-month sabbatical, he asked us to think about all the changes that have come with responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. He asked us to think about the negative effects and the positive effects. And, what do we wish to be the new normal for ourselves? Since I’d already been thinking a lot about this, figured it’d be a good time to put down my thoughts on paper.
Probably one of the most noticeable negative effects is distancing myself from others. I’m a people-person and get a lot of energy from being around my church friends. Beginning when I walk from the parking lot into the building, I enjoy greeting folks passing by with comments about the day and sharing kindnesses with others. Walking through Krueger Hall, I invariably share greetings with folks I know and those I don’t yet know. It’s such a great feeling to be around so many other people who come together to worship the Lord, too! Then, as I share hugs with my friends, greeting them in the love of God…ah, such a warm and wonderful feeling! Following the always meaningful sermon, I get to delve into events in the lives of friends over coffee and that guilty pleasure of my half-donut treat. I always leave Sunday morning service uplifted, with a smile on my face and the warmth of having shared love with my church family. I miss my church family!
Another negative effect has been disturbing the routine of being able to pop into Super 1, the Dollar Store, JoAnn’s Fabrics, Walgreens, etc. whenever I had a notion to. Another guilty pleasure has been the occasional stop at McDonald’s for a cheeseburger (plain) and iced tea (large) or a drive-through of Starbucks (16-oz iced mocha/non-fat/no-whip, please). I miss that freedom to act on those impulses.
I also have found new attitudes about boundaries when in a position of being around total strangers, say, in a grocery store, public restroom, or on a sidewalk. Is this a feeling of fear (they might be passing me a virus)? Is this resentment (they’re “using-up” my air-space)? Is this conflicting emotions (I want to chat with strangers/I don’t want to be anywhere around strangers)? I don’t like these feelings of being uncomfortable around my fellow man at all! I miss the openness and comfort of being around others.
But, what about the positive effects? Well, I truly enjoy participating in the YouTube worship (in my nightgown) and seeing live posts from around the country and the world. It makes me feel connected seeing Ray Weaver playing the piano; Rob & Shastina Blackston singing from their home; Pastor Craig delivering the sermon from his living room. I enjoy not having the half-hour drive to downtown Coeur d’Alene for service and work. It has surprised me greatly that I have enjoyed the online worship!
I also cannot believe how much money I’m saving by not giving in to those inspirational trips to the grocery store where I always pick-up more than I had planned! And, those stops at McDonald’s and Starbucks have helped to ease the cash and calorie wallets. So, yeah, those have been positive effects.
My knowledge base has deepened by using new tools that I probably never would have tried on my own. If you’ve reached one of us on the church office phone during the last few weeks, you’ve been talking to me in Rathdrum, Chris in Hayden, Stephanie in Post Falls, or Bonnie actually in Coeur d’Alene (yet, not usually physically at the church). In fact, Chris and I use a duplicate of the computer we normally use in the church office, but it’s on our own home computers! Wild! Our staff meetings and ChristCare group meetings have been taking place by Zoom while seeing one another all in a grid on the same screen. Now, those are crazy concepts to me! But, it’s amazing how readily I have adapted to that way of doing business! That’s been a big positive effect.
But along with the specific negative effects and the positive effects, I must admit to feeling worry about how all these things will affect the future.
I’m concerned about removing the personal barriers I’ve built around myself. Will I be able to do that readily? Will I continue to shy away from others, so I don’t get someone else’s germs or give them ones I didn’t know I had? My wish is that this feeling of self-protection flies out the window soon! As a people-person, I’ll be quite glad if it disappears—or will I? It’s that worry that’s haunting me right now.
So, yes, Pastor Craig, there is the advent of the new normal on our doorstep. There are exciting new ways to do things, new awareness of our surroundings, but there are some worries out there, too.
I love the Coeur d’Alene Press (the print edition, please!) and especially enjoy its Sunday feature article by Harvey Mackay. He shares upbeat advice for business and in life as told through his stories and examples. Knowing that I needed the reminders, I had recently cut out two quotes from an article he wrote on worrying. The first quote on my wall is, “Worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.” The other one is, “Worry pulls tomorrow’s cloud over today’s sunshine.” They spoke loudly to me!
Two thousand years before, Paul wrote to the people of Philippi, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Thank you, Lord, for presenting this opportunity for us to grow. Thank you, also, for guiding us through these deep waters. I need to trust that You have brought us to this time of “40” for a reason. May I respond with acceptance of the “new normal” You have in mind for me.
Your friend in Christ,