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A Single Man’s Observations for Those in Quarantine

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.

In Him,

Rev. Bob Ragan

3 thoughts on “A Single Man’s Observations for Those in Quarantine”

  1. What, you mean wearing your skivvies until 2 in the afternoon during many days in quarantine might be a sign that you’re struggling spiritually?

    Hmmm…well, that might be a point worth considering,I suppose. OK, now in my defense I will note that yesterday I WAS dressed by 1:30 in the afternoon. Or that was that sometime last week?
    And I think there was one morning somewhat recently where I was actually presentable by around 8 or so. So perhaps I’m not a hopeless case after all.

    On the other hand, maybe my afternoon state of dress or undress in quarantine is not really the main point of this discussion.

    Yes, Father, i confess: it was just a few minutes ago that I was grumbling to myself, “Boy, this quarantine routine is getting pretty damn old!”

    But maybe it’s time now to change that response to something like this:

    The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end. THEY ARE NEW EVERY MORNING; great is your faithfulness.

    OK, I think I’m starting to get the picture.

    No matter how old this quarantine routine seems to be getting from my perspective, from your perspective this is still another unique and wonderful morning to refresh a beloved son or daughter of yours with a cleansing and invigorating shower of brand-new mercies.

    And speaking of showering, um, maybe it’s time I did THAT again, too, hopefully before 10 AM, since we’re now coming up on 9:45.

    Thanks, Bob! — Weber

  2. Amen! I think these first few weeks of the quarantine have been, for many of us (for me!), a time to draw upon our own strength to “get through this”. But as the time goes on and our own strength (read: MY own strength!) grows weary, it’s an opportunity for me to confess again that I can’t do this on my own. I am a creature, not the Creator. I don’t have enough strength, patience, perseverance, peace, self-control to get through this season on my own.

    Thanks be to God — He doesn’t ask me to! He offers me/us His presence, His peace, His strength, His patience, His perseverance, His self-control. He wants me to look to and depend upon Him, not myself. He wants me to continue to seek community so that I can lean on those who are strong when I am weak and be strong for others when they are weak. He wants me to feed on His Word so that I am filled up and satisfied by Him. He wants me to look for ways to love and serve others, rather than being focused only upon my needs and wants.

    God wants this in my “normal” life, but that life is full of distractions. How wonderful that He loves me so much that He has removed many of the distractions! His love invites me/us “to seek God… to discover how He can turn this season into an opportunity for you… to look upward… to ask God how he will turn this for your good… to believe this season will result in furthering you becoming the man or woman the Father has created you to be.”

    Amen! Thank you, Bob!

  3. Thank you, Pastor Bob. This is sound and spiritual advice for everyone (even this middle age, working from home during pandemic, single mom)! Also, I definitly and often identify as an extroverted introvert.
    Thank you for the reminder that is so important to stay on a schedule, esp on days off!! (Although I have worn my pajamas until 4pm many days and a baseball hat and sunglasses are now a feature of my everyday wardrobe lol) Scheduling and assigning tasks, and establishing a “To Do” list daily is crucial. I combed my hair once this week, but my kids, dog and I are fed and well, thank God who supplies all our needs.
    God is certainly speaking to His people. Now, even more than ever, when we afford ourselves the opportunity to listen to Him, there is a reverberating reminder that good can come from this pandemic. The time at home for those who are healthy and well is an amazing opportunity to reconnect with Jesus, spend time with family, pray for our leaders and those who are ill from COVID, re establish priorities, learn new habits and skills and clean up our physical and spiritual homes to name a few. The situation is terrible, but our good God is always in charge, He is loving Provider, Healer, Defender, Protector among so much more, Jesus is Lord! As is His never-changing nature, He is working for good in all of us! Thank you so much for your post!! God Bless you and I will pass this on to my son and son in law!!

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