The initial novelty of lockdown has worn off. Now people are settling into this new normal and understandably longing for it to end. Pastorally we are probably being drawn to people suffering with grief, loneliness, marital difficulties, financial hardship or mental health struggles. But even those who seem to be doing well need to be shepherded.
What regrets can we all anticipate already and pre-empt with changes now?
Lockdown initially stirred feelings of concern and uncertainty at levels that are rare for most of us. Some commented about how helpful this time could be, and how they don’t want to come out of lockdown without being changed in the process. Now as we settle into the rhythm of it, that internal sense of having our world shaken may start to fade.
As I spoke with a good friend yesterday, we were pondering how lockdown does not create new spiritual or emotional issues for us. It is the kind of pressure that merely reveals issues more blatantly. So now is a good time to anticipate how we will feel coming out of lockdown. Why? Because now we still have time to make adjustments.
Some will emerge grieving. The very nature of the pandemic means that many will lose loved ones during these weeks. If you have not lost anyone yet, don’t just cross your fingers and hope you won’t. As Christians we can do more than just avoid spreading the virus. Be sure to get close to the One you will need when death does strike closer to home.
Some will miss the simplicity of lockdown. I don’t think this is as simple as extroverts craving interaction while introverts love pottering around at home, although there may be some truth to be found there. So much of life is stripped away right now that some people are discovering joy in time with family, or in time spent in the garden/yard, etc. For some who emerge untouched by personal grief, the lockdown may well be remembered fondly.
But many will emerge saddened by missed opportunity. I don’t mean the missed opportunities in “normal life” that we are missing by being at home. I mean the unique opportunity this time is presenting to us, but that we may miss. How much time are we not spending travelling, commuting, running errands, watching sport, participating in activities outside of work, church ministries, etc.? And for those furloughed from work – how many hours a week does that add? When does life ever present us with extra tens of hours in a week, for week after week? How easily those cumulative hours have already filled with other things!
Here are five post-lockdown regrets to anticipate and act on now:
1. Bible time. In the busy swirl of “normal” how often do we say, “I was just too busy to read my Bible”…? Don’t emerge from lockdown saying “Actually, I regret to announce that I have discovered I just don’t have any real appetite for what God has to say.”
2. Prayer time. Again, normal life can so easily squeeze out times of extended prayer, or even any prayer at all. But with hours added to our weeks, are we finding ourselves to be Daniels normally thwarted by the modern world, or actually just not very prayerful? That too can be changed now.
3. Fears Revealed But Unaddressed. So much of “normal” life and busy activity insulates us against deeper feelings like fear – we are often simply too distracted. Don’t emerge from lockdown simply having discovered a fear of death, or of change, or of financial lack, or whatever, but without having gone to God for help to process that fear.
4. Being a Taker More Than a Giver. “Normal life” may have filled your week so full that one volunteer role at church felt like you were giving a lot. Don’t emerge from lockdown and realize that you did even less during these weeks. Inhaling multiple series of a show on Netflix is no achievement. If you only consume, it will feel empty. What can you do for others, now? Practical help? Prayerful support? Personal encouragement? Pastoral concern? (That also applies on social media – don’t just moan personally or politically, don’t simply purvey time-wasting opportunities, instead look for ways to build others up.)
5. Idols Still Standing. God has stripped away so many things that may have stood as idols in our lives, even without us realising it. Are you craving clothes shopping, or live sport, or travel, or hobbies, or socialising? Maybe this lockdown is letting us see the flashing lights of warning on our personal dashboard. When lockdown ends, will we hold these privileges with a looser grip and more gratitude toward God for every blessing? Or will we rush to bow at the feet of our dear missed idols that could and should have been smashed during this unique time?
Feel free to add more to this list of anticipated regrets we can adjust now. The bottom line is really this: Some will look back on lockdown with a deep sense of regret at having missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow closer to God.
Here is the latest video playlist … Bible highlights from 2 Corinthians: