Years ago I watched a film called Love in the Time of Cholera. This movie highlighted the drama that always goes on behind the scenes during times of war, plagues, and uncertainty. Life was still in full-swing in the backdrop of that crisis, as it is in the one we currently face.
Now that COVID-19 is in full aggressive swing in the world, we are beginning to understand the gravity of our situation. China, Italy, and Spain pulsated a dire warning sign waving frantically for the world to pay attention. We are taking extra precautions now, staying indoors, washing our hands religiously, sacrificing our lifestyles to save our lives. We grieve with those hit hardest by the loss of life, livelihood, security, and freedom.
Yet, there is still much to find joy in. In fact, we need to find this joy. Joy and sorrow, called the “twin sisters” by some, often exist together. So today I want to write about ways we can find more of the joy in the stressful, strange, and sorrow-filled times that we are living in.
Socially distant adventures
Walking outdoors or hiking (when the trails are open) has been my go-to exercise plan while the gym is closed. These activities can be done with proper social distancing plus being in the sun is said to help with COVID-19. So a couple weeks ago I came home spontaneously took my roommates on a hike on Lookout Mtn. We reached Glen Falls and enjoyed the sound of gushing water, admired the budding trees, and generally enjoyed ourselves.
Clean Comedian Watch parties
Lots of comedians are doing concerts online. Great movies are coming out through streaming. Bring the family together and watch some of these so you can simply laugh out loud. Laughter reduces stress, increases oxytocin, and of course increases joy. If you live alone, start a watch party or laugh with a friend by telephone.
Creative Community Support
Of course many of us were already using platforms such as Zoom to have work meetings, but now they can be used to gather socially during quarantine. Just last night I enjoyed a meeting with my life-group from church. Around 8-9 of us were present. We caught up, encouraged one another, shared advice, read scripture, and prayed together. It was a beautiful and uplifting experience.
I also attended a financial seminar on the weekend through zoom. I gleaned great information, asked questions, and planned for a follow-up. Again, for those who are not tech savvy, going back to the old-school phone to check on relatives and friends can be wonderful as well.
One of the hardest parts of the quarantine so far for me has been the inability to attend church services in person. During this time, I watch online, but its really no substitute for being in the sanctuary with my church family, seeking God’s presence together, talking to each other after church, eating together, etc. I realize how much I took for granted when I was able to do these things. I am even more eager to see everyone again. The value I have for them has deepened. At the same time, the desire to draw close to God has deepened as well. I want to truly find a hiding place in Him, especially now that I see the whole world can fall apart in a moment. I cannot trust in what I see, I am learning to look upwards to what I cannot see, and to trust HIM. I am also challenged to encourage others, especially workers on the front lines and those who have been hit the hardest. This is spiritual growth.
We are being challenged to expand during this time of global crisis–expand our ability to believe that God is still good and all-powerful, that He knows what we do not know, that we can still love and give when our very lives are threatened, that we can creatively flex our lifestyles and persevere, that we can slow down and focus on the things that really matter. We deepen as we allow suffering to teach us compassion and selflessness.
We maximize our extra time when we fill it with wholesome projects like fresh gardens, creative pursuits, re-organizing our priorities, service to others, and more. Let us do these things while we can, and let the joy in.