“Jesus changes our history from a random series of sad incidents and accidents into a constant opportunity for a change of heart.” from Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life by Henri J.M. Nouwen
I consider myself to be an extroverted introvert. Translation: I enjoy being in the company of others, but also decidedly cherish my time alone. Upon entering my home, I embrace the solitude of my refuge. Although this solitude is renewing for me, I know that extended time alone is detrimental to my wellbeing. Living alone during these weeks of quarantine, I was aware of the need to structure my day.
For some, the forced seclusion was initially a time of freedom and euphoria. Work demands became altered, as well as personal routines. Although that freedom can feel exhilarating, there is the risk of it becoming a formless or unproductive passage of time. Maintaining a routine schedule is essential for one’s wellbeing.
For me, I choose to rise out of bed within a set time, make my bed, shower, and get dressed (i.e., not wearing my bathrobe until 2:00 in the afternoon!). I plan ahead for my meals, a daily walk, and when I will turn in for the evening. This regular structure is crucial.
Intentional connection with others is also vitally important. This can be accomplished through virtual conversations with colleagues and friends. Because virtually connecting lacks a tactile component, I use my daily walk as another opportunity to encounter others. I choose to make eye contact, wave, or say hello. This momentary connection with a returned acknowledgment does something for my soul. I am seen! There may not be an extended dialog, and yet, there is an implied understanding of our current state of affairs. The benefit of this experience is that I vacate my confined space to enter God’s creation. Being outside and engaging with others can renew the soul.
Be resourceful about creating connections. Perhaps sitting on a front porch or bench to talk to others is a way to connect. If I see neighbors outdoors, I go outside to speak with them. Use wisdom, but there are ways to connect with others if this time of isolation is particularly painful. One of the neighbors in my condo building made individual boxes of muffins for each of us. I not only felt seen but also cared for by her. Perhaps text your neighbors when you go grocery shopping to see if they need anything. These intentional efforts have their rewards.
While maintaining healthy routines, spending time outside, and choosing to connect with others is helpful, there is a higher calling. Henri Nouwen’s quote hits the mark. Now is the time to seek God for the opportunity He has to change your heart. This viral attack did not take God by surprise. It is for you to discover how He can turn this season into an opportunity for you. Resist the mental attitude that this season is “happening” to you as if you are its victim. No! Resist sinking inward but look upward instead. Ask God how he will turn this for your good. Ask for the gift of faith to believe this season will result in furthering you becoming the man or woman the Father has created you to be.
Ask God for a change of heart.
Rev. Bob Ragan