Last week, I shared five things I’ve learned during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. As we roll into the New Year, most people feel ready to kick 2020 to the curb. I’m not so quick to say that 2020 was a complete loss.
I’m the kind of person to notice the unspoken good things that arise from the difficult situations we each face. While I’m not always the best at picking out the good right in the moment of trouble, I try to journal, pray, and listen for wisdom right in the middle of the hard times. Thanks to 2020, there were plenty of these moments this year. Join me in thinking through these five more things Covid-19 has taught me:
Lesson #1: I need a break.
I’ve always been a hard-working person and admit that I usually work too long and don’t take enough breaks. With fewer outside commitments, I pushed myself harder both in work and in family life. On one hand, I was able to publish my first book this year in the middle of Covid-19 because of fewer distractions outside the home; on the other hand, having everyone home has required more housework. Because of this, I found myself working right past my body’s boundaries. Learning what boundaries are good for me is an ongoing process. Also, I have a chronic condition called Fibromyalgia. Taking frequent breaks helps so that I alternate between sitting and standing tasks; mentally taxing tasks and easy tasks. With everyone home and able to help, I’ve adopted a new strategy to share the work and give myself more breaks: If there’s something I can delegate to someone else, this is what I aim to do first.
Giving myself permission to relax and building in good self-care habits are critical.
Lesson #2: I need friends.
Curating a close group of friends is a non-negotiable essential to life. With regulations to avoid time with those outside our household to avoid the virus spread, I wasn’t able to see friends regularly. More than just an occasional Zoom video conversation, I craved intentional time with close friends to keep me steady. First, I started regularly calling friends, then we set up Zoom calls, then shifted to monthly outside birthday dinners when restaurants were open during the late spring and summer. Now that we’re nearing winter, I’m making use of my backyard firepit with regular times to chat and catch up. I even joined an outside Bible study in a friend’s backyard where we dress like we’re going to a winter football game, then sit six feet apart–all so we can connect and pray together. It’s worth it.
Look for creative ways to meet and connect with friends.
Lesson #3: I need more sleep.
My husband said the other day, “how did I make it without 8-10 hours of sleep all these years?” He said this half in jest and half-seriously. This intense period of change has exhausted us more significantly than life as we knew it. Being able to devote more time to sleep has been a good way to cope, and going to bed a bit earlier and sleeping longer has improved our lives overall. During the fall, schedules ramped up in our house. We weren’t able to sleep in quite as much, but we have enjoyed more relaxing weekend mornings and hope to continue carving out more Sabbath time to rest and relax even after the pandemic is over.
More sleep equals more overall happiness and satisfaction.
Lesson #4: I need extended family.
Often, we don’t realize what we had until it’s gone. While no one in my family has died this year, I’ve experienced a strange ‘death’ to in-lay and parental visits, Thanksgiving guests, and what will be a Christmas without them. We have scheduled video calls and talked on the phone, but if there’s one thing this pandemic has taught me it’s the value of being together physically. There will be a day soon where we can gather, hug, and even dip chips from the same guacamole bowl.
Having in-person time with loved family in friends is vital.
Lesson #5: I need church.
When Covid-19 hit, our church was meeting in a high school cafeteria. Meeting at this simple, no-frills location worked for our nimble and energetic group of 150. But as the world learned about this new virus, organizations aired on the side of caution and public schools along with churches–really everyone–shut down to outside group rentals. This has meant no in-person services for the last 10 months. I’ve found that attending church online (I call it “couch church”) leaves a lot to be desired. I do enjoy it, but I miss the worship with other believers in one place, at one time. I miss the fellowship. I miss the whole experience. What I do know is that when we’re able to be back together, it will be so sweet.
Worshipping with other people helps me value my faith and the freedoms we have in America.
As 2020 wraps up, I pray that God would guide you in 2021 and help you with your desires, goals, and aspirations (as well as toilet paper supply). Happy New Year!
Lauren Hunter is a writer who loves the big picture of God’s journey we are all on together. Raised in a fourth-generation family of Christian Scientists, Lauren Hunter left her family’s faith behind at the age of 25 to become an evangelical Christian. She is also the founder of ChurchTechToday, a leading website for pastors and church leaders. Married to her high school sweetheart, Lauren lives in Northern California with her husband and their four children. Her latest book is Leaving Christian Science: 10 Stories of New Faith in Jesus Christ.