By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Millions of people, however, have not gotten the disease but their lives also have changed. Whoever heard of “social distancing” a month ago? The nation’s economy was booming four weeks ago. Now, you can’t go out to dinner and “sit inside” a restaurant. Businesses have closed — some temporarily, but others have announced they will not reopen.
For many people, the “workplace” has become their home. It’s been four weeks since the staff of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board began working from home and it still is not easy. For the past 46 years I have “gone” to work. Now, I am learning to adjust to working from home and finding that balance that you have to maintain.
The coronavirus has changed our lives forever. I’m confident “this, too, shall pass,” but the memories of the pandemic will remain vivid. The pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways that we don’t even realize all of them yet.
For decades, America has been a nation on the go. We are too busy. Before the coronavirus, how many people spent most of their evenings at home? There was always the next ball game or practice or the next dance recital to go to. For me, it was looking for that next yard sale or estate sale on the weekend. Even church kept us busy with meetings throughout the week and on Sunday evenings.
Busyness became a way of life, a way of coping for people. If you’re busy, you don’t have time to think about what’s important. The coronavirus, for all of the hurt and anguish it has caused, has forced Americans to slow down and examine what really matters.
I daresay most of us, if we are honest, would say that this virus has helped us to eliminate some of the “stuff” that overwhelms us.
Though I felt like I had a good prayer life and spent time with God in His Word, I have realized the time I truly was spending with Him was not adequate. The uncertainty caused by COVID-19 is a stark reminder that we need to be in constant prayer and communication with God who is in control.
I have discovered that a nice walk during the time I normally would be stuck in traffic has given me a great opportunity to talk with God in His element.
The pandemic also has forced people to listen to others because we really don’t have much else to do. I have had more good conversations on the telephone the past few weeks than I’ve had in decades because I took the time. I’ve always had the time, but I didn’t use it wisely.
Just last week I had a friend who called me out of the blue. I had not heard from him in several months, but he was just “checking” to see how I was. It was another reminder for me that I need to do the same.
Social distancing has made me have a greater appreciation for the time I spend with family and friends. I have been going through grandchildren withdrawal. That’s been the hardest thing for me. My two grandsons live in South Carolina. We “see” each other on video calls, but a video can’t give you a hug.
My son and his wife recently presented us with our first granddaughter. She’s only 30 minutes away but we limit how much time we spend with her because of health concerns related to the virus.
Yet, we anticipate the day when the virus has subsided and we can spend all the time we want with those we love.
I admit that the past four weeks have made me rethink how I need to live post-coronavirus. Instead of always being on the go, I need to remember the “good old days” of the virus when we focused more on the needs of others, rather than ourselves.
The coronavirus will eventually end and we will return to “normal,” whatever normal is. My prayer is that we don’t return to what we were. Instead, we live like the virus is still with us. No, I am not referring to isolation from others. Instead, we need to rely totally on God. He is what will get us through the virus and He will be there for us when it’s over.