1 Year Later: What Quarantine Taught Me

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For most people here in Kansas, sometime in March 2020 marked the beginning of all the lockdowns and restrictions. When I first started taking notes for this post, we were only about a month or so into quarantine. My notes kept growing as I kept thinking, “I don’t want to post this while I’m still in quarantine, I want this piece to be a look back on my complete quarantine experience.” Well, here we are one year later!

While I am so thankful that we are not in a full on quarantine anymore, I can hardly believe we are still dealing with this virus. And while I hate the phrase “the new normal,” I am convinced that we might not ever get back to what life was like before coronavirus. But maybe that’s okay? Maybe we need to be more cautious than we were before?

My local news stations say that as more people are getting vaccinated, we are just a couple more months away from being free from masks and limited gatherings. Whatever the return of that freedom looks like to you, I know it’s going to be a sweet moment. I can see you now at a big outdoor concert or festival, surrounded by your best friends finally mask free, singing along to your favorite song with your hands held out, as a big smile comes across your face as you remember, THIS is what freedom feels like! Oh my goodness, I can’t wait for that moment for you.

For now though, I want to reflect on some things that I learned during my quarantine/coronavirus experience.

First up, I learned about my sense of entitlement and how it has no place in a pandemic. I remember one day right after my church announced they had to go to online only services, I was stomping around the house and muttering under my breath. “Well this is just great, the ONE place my family and I go every week is closing. How unfair is that. Other families get to leave their houses more than us, so we should still get to attend church. There should definitely be exceptions to this rule.”

Whoa, right?

I really felt that way, but the more I said it out loud, the more I realized how true it is that you can’t trust your feelings. My feelings about church closing were not only wrong, they were a gross display of my entitlement. We are lucky enough to live in a country where we can openly follow Jesus, and when there isn’t a global pandemic going on, we GET to worship together in a church building. But we don’t HAVE to worship together physically to be the church. I get it, online church isn’t the same. But friends, isn’t it better than nothing?

I will forever be grateful to my church and every other church out there who was able to quickly pivot to offering services online. We have since gone back to attending services in person and I am grateful every single time I walk in. It’s amazing what trading entitlement for gratitude did to me and can do to us all!

I recently heard that during times of great crisis, people will often look to Christians as a barometer for how bad things really are. This goes for believers and nonbelievers alike, they either look to their fellow Christians for comfort or they might be looking to the group as a whole for a dent in our armor. Shortly after hearing that little tidbit, I saw a news story about a group of local parishioners who banded together to protest their church’s decision to temporarily close due to covid. The cover image for the story was a picture of these parishioners outside their church angrily banging on the doors.

Again, whoa!

I am not exactly sure what mid-pandemic picture of me I want other people to have, but I know it’s not banging down my church door.

I just wrapped up a bible study on Elijah by Priscilla Shirer. There’s a part in the story on Mount Carmel where Elijah challenges the pagan believers to summon their god. Their summoning is described as “frantic” shouting and dancing that eventually turns into “slashing themselves with swords” as a final act of desperation. Obviously their attempts are fruitless and then here comes calm, cool, collected Elijah. He knows exactly what measures to take in order to get our God to show up and does so with the utmost confidence.

I can’t help but think of Elijah’s challenge and his response vs the response of the pagans as a metaphor for quarantine. As Christians, we were issued a challenge. Did we respond with confidence like Elijah? Or with frantic desperation like the pagans?

I am not saying it’s not perfectly reasonable to have moments of panic or doubt. But my hope for you is that you know there is a God who will see us through this pandemic. There is a God who KNEW this was going to happen and has a plan for us all. If you haven’t been conducting yourself from a place of that confidence, it’s never too late to start!

The next thing quarantine taught me is that every home runs differently. For example, many families felt extreme shock when children had to start doing school at home and parents had to start working from home. Well, my kids were already homeschooled and my husband already worked from home. For us, quarantine did not feel all that different to how we had been living before.

I remember reading all the comments about how “unproductive” schooling and working from home are and how “damaged” these kids would be from doing school online for so long. I really struggled reading those comments because my reality was that those comments couldn’t be further from the truth. What I had to learn was that what works in my home might not work in another home and vice versa. Your home is like your fingerprint. Completely individual to you, not any better or any worse than your neighbor. Through quarantine, I’ve found new appreciation for our home and new empathy for other families.

The last thing I learned during quarantine is that just like Olaf said, “some people are worth melting for.” If you’re not a Disney fan then what I mean by that is there are some people that pandemic or not, you prioritize seeing. There are people who warm your soul and calm your storm who are worth the risk. Maybe it’s a trusted member of your family or your best friend. Maybe it’s someone who literally saves you, someone who helps keep you mentally and spiritually straight. Either way, we all have a couple people who we continued to see during the pandemic because their company is worth it. If I didn’t see you at all during 2020, please know that I don’t blame you at all. But, going forward into 2021, also please know that I will be prioritizing those few select pandemic-or-not friends first. Basically what I am saying is that if you didn’t love me at my 2020, you don’t deserve me at my 2021. 🙂

Reflecting back on your quarantine experience, what do you feel like you learned? Comment below!

XO – Olivia

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