This was me for the past two weeks, sitting in my room interacting with everyone through my window because I came down with Covid. I'm not sure where the virus came from. Josh's job requires contact tracing, but we live cautiously so that we can confidently go to church on the weekends. Regardless of where it came from, my experience with Covid has made me understand how it gets spread around so easily.
Early on a Saturday morning, I woke up with a headache. I thought I might have just slept poorly and I was sure that caffeine would take care of it. Over time, the headache morphed into what seemed like a migraine because I was sensitive to light and sound. I had migraines as a child so I immediately took some Tylenol and tried to keep my eyes closed as much as my kids would let me. The Tylenol didn't help. The assumed migraine escalated to pain in my neck and shoulders. I went to bed feeling like my head might explode. The next morning, there was no headache, it was full body aches. My shoulders, neck, back, hips, knees, elbows, and jaw ached like I had been in a car accident. As soon as I could safely take more pain medication, I did. Even though I had no cough and no fever, I finally thought this might be Covid. A quick trip to the doctor confirmed that I was positive and sentenced to 14 days of quarantine. This also pulled Josh out of the office and the kids out of school for 14 days as well.
For two weeks, I never had a fever or cough. My only other Covid symptom was loss of smell. Josh somehow managed to feed us all three meals a day, attend his Zoom meetings, and give Harper enough computer time to do her schoolwork. He kept a positive attitude throughout and even tried to find ways to cheer me up (i.e. sending me photos of the required princess dress code for homeschooling) We also had amazing friends and neighbors drop off food and activities for the girls to do. Josh and the girls managed to evade Covid despite being around me for about a day and a half of an assumed migraine, praise God!
While I was in isolation, I reflected on a lot-- the division in our nation, the direction of our daily lives, and decisions I need to make in my personal life were just a few things that came across my mind. I wanted to pray and seek God's Word on all of this stuff but I found myself distracted... A LOT. Like most sin, it began innocently at first. I was locked in a room for the next two weeks and advised to rest. Looking at my phone was just the easiest thing to do. However, I scrolled social media feeds so much that when I switched from one platform to the other I thought what the heck? I just saw this. Not realizing it had only been about five minutes since I was last on it. Restlessness and depression crept in. I found myself angry for no reason. I couldn't believe how slowly the time was passing. I was consuming everything and doing nothing.
Have you ever had one of those driving experiences when you pull into your driveway and you do not remember the drive home? I found myself in a similar place staring out my bedroom window on about day 4 of quarantine. I don't remember getting out of bed or what drew me to the window in the first place, but in looking out that window I knew that I couldn't let my idle hands be evil's handiwork. Satan's plan would be to take my attention so he could take over my mood then control my mind. How do I stop this? I want to know what's going on in the world and I am literally powerless to act on it so I should at least stay informed, right?
Am I informed or engorged? Staring out the window, I came to two conclusions:
NO ONE on earth can be aware of everything everywhere all the time. As a nation, we have serious issues, and there's nothing like a controversial election paired with a pandemic to showcase how divided we are on the issues. I am an enneagram 2 (the helper). I want to care about it all. I want to help with it all. While I believe that God anointed me with a spirit of helping and hospitality, I also know that it's Satan's plan to use it to pull me in one hundred different directions which leaves me depleted and feeling like I helped no one. The Bible says that "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it." (Proverbs 3:27) but this cannot be believed apart from Ephesians 2:10 "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Am I commanded to do good when I have the power to do it? Yes. Can I do all the good that is needed in the world? No. If I could, what was the point of Christ? Instead, I need to cling to the convictions, progress, and avenues of worship that were prepared in advance for ME to do. If I spend my time ingesting and reacting to every thing I see in the news or on Twitter, distraction from my mission and spiritual sickness are the consequence.
Ministry begins and ends with what's in arm's reach. The world has created a very opposite method for what creates contentment and security in someone's life. What is the point in becoming the CEO of a Fortune 500 company if your children don't know if you love them? What is the point in coaching your son's little league team when you can't even encourage him in his homework? What is the point in pursuing ministry when your own self-talk sounds more like Satan than Jesus? The world constantly feeds us this narrative that what we need is "out there" somewhere, but as I sat in my room listening to hysterical giggling to what sounded like a tag dodgeball dance party, I realized that knowing things are good within the home is priceless. Good doesn't mean easy; remember I had this epiphany while I was locked in my room with a virus and my husband had to play dad, employee, and homeschool teacher. Good means that in whatever we do, we work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23). The world outside my window might be falling apart, but if my mind is made up to use the work of my hands as a form of worship, then how I talk to myself, how I encourage Josh, and how I steward my children IS the good work that God prepared in advance for me to do. Whether you're single or a parent of ten, when you and your house serve the Lord, it is amazing how impenetrable you become to the pull of sin.
Folks that have a grip on input and output are actually the best soldiers for the Great Commission. They live in harmony with the command of growth, and are grateful for limits because they force us to rely on God. Thus, they don't retreat from the world's problems, they create a habit of regrouping so that their model of ministry is not casting a wide net but rather a ripple effect beginning everyday with those who are the closest. How would our life's journey change if we were determined to make sure everyone in our circle made it to the top of the ladder along with us?
After all these questions, I was ready to set my boundaries for the Lent season. We are not Catholic, but I believe Lent is a great way to learn from history. How many people heard the word and saw the work of Jesus but just refused to make room for him? Not because they didn't like him, but because they were unwilling to change the daily routine. I like the Lent season because it prepares room for Easter. The changes are
30 minutes of social media a day. With this parameter in place, I'm much more likely to get on with a purpose like to post something or to specifically look something up. No more mindless scrolling in hopes that some weird fulfillment will come through.
Refuse to "get through the day" when I am with my kids. My children are at a tiring age, they both want our full attention all the time. My kids are also at the age where we are teaching them what it means to be inappropriately clingy (like, you don't need to stand next to the toilet while I am using it!). Yes, I will need the TV to babysit sometimes so I can get a shower or send emails, but I am called to bring these children (and Josh) along on my life's journey. Passing the time and praying no one asks me for anything is hardly what God had in mind when he asked me to become a mom. Every day, I'm going to pray for meaningful inclusion. What's great about that is that it can take many forms. It could include special things like going to the zoo and simple things like folding towels while we talk about "computer lab Thursday" at school. When I think of the relationship I want with my adult children, I envision an open-door mature relationship where I have not created them in my image, but trained them to obey God and we each play crucial parts in helping each other in that obedience. That won't happen without intentionality and I can't be intentional if the world gets my attention first.
Ministry starts in the mind! And whether we reach the ends of the earth or not, the ones within arm's reach were always the first in line.
I am thankful for my time with this virus. My eyes were opened and my world will change. Every setback is a setup.