Coming Out of Stay at Home

This was originally posted on my church’s blog. You can see the original post here.

When we are released from the stay-at-home order, it’s going to be weird. I feel like I’m going to just run out the front door, sprint 30 yards, fall to my knees and lift my arms and yell “Freedom!” I may do this a few more times, then head back home and finish watching the series on Netflix I’ve been devouring.

Let’s be real, we all have big plans when released from the stay-at-home order, but the reality will likely not meet our expectations. Many of us will still stay at home. And for those who don’t, it’ll be like eating a whole package of Double-Stuf Oreos (I am, of course, not speaking from experience). You’ll start strong and fast, crash, regret every minute of it, but secretly be proud of yourself for the courage you showed.

Many of us, no matter your strategy for exiting the stay-at-home order, will need to be re-trained to eat in front of others. You might even need to go to an etiquette class. Many more will immediately back out of their driveway or parking spot and crash into the car behind them, confusing the brake and the gas. Driving schools are about to get super busy!

It’ll be better if we just admit something right now: this transition is going to be hard. We know this for one simple reason: we’re not good at change. For many of us, the stay-at-home order nearly broke us. For those staying at home by themselves, I cannot even imagine the isolation you feel. The change in routine will be good, but it will feel weird. Going back to work, adding back your regular shopping, trips to the gym, and all the random errands that happen during the week. We will immediately feel extremely busy (because anything more than nothing is busy) and that busyness is prime time for your routines to fall to pieces.

But it’s also an opportunity to trust the Lord with yet another transition. How do we do that?

As we are connecting here on the church blog, I want to talk about the strategies to maintain our spiritual routines and disciplines coming out of the stay-at-home order.

PONDER

Change scares us and creates a panic when we’re not prepared for it. The best way to prepare yourself is to get your mind wrapped around it right now. We know the days of open stores and restaurants are right around the corner. There is no reason we shouldn’t have thought through how that’ll change our daily routines. Start thinking through what work will be like, what events you’ll be back involved in, what things you’ve missed, and want to enjoy. What is most important to you coming out of this time? Decide that now so when you have a decision to make you know which way to go.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What have I done well in my walk with God? Of those things, which is the most important
  • What have I struggled with in my walk with God? Of those things, which is most urgent for you to stop or change?
  • Which people and/or groups do I want to reinvest with immediately? Which will I need to revisit more slowly?

These questions will lead to many thoughts and theories and plans. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Try and come up with one or two key takeaways from each category. The rest will sort itself out.

PLAN

Some of you just squealed. Others just groaned. The reality is you’ll need to do some planning. If the stay-at-home order lifts and there is no plan, many will forget all you’d been doing before and go wild. When the stay-at-home order came down, I quit doing exercising and started eating Cheez-its and Oreos and fruit snacks and yeah that’s about it… there was nothing else. It’ll be easy to stop the rhythms you’ve found during this time and find yourself back at ground zero.

Since you’ve thought through the questions in the previous step, it’s now time to commit yourself to something. Write down the things you mulled over in the last step and figure out how you’re going to get it done. Once written, you may even share it with family, friends, or on social media. There is power in positive reinforcement from others. There is also power in accountability to others. Embrace it all.

Once you’ve written it down, it’s okay to change. Don’t cling to your plans as a baby clings to a pacifier. Hold your plans with an open palm. For one thing, you could change your mind and that’s okay. For another, a tight grip wears you down and makes you susceptible to distractions and ultimate failure. Expect that coming out of the stay-at-home order will not go as you planned, but also expect that planning with help you stay closer to the mark.

PRAY

Maybe you don’t need to pray about cutting out the Oreos, but maybe you do. Nothing is too small to lift up. Pray that God will give you the focus and courage and desire to come out of the stay-at-home order strong. Pray over each item you’ve committed to by writing it down. Also, pray that God will help you hold loosely to the plans and tightly to him.

Most importantly, pray that God will prepare you for when we are under the next stay-at-home order. There is a possibility that there could be flair-ups in infections of the virus until there is a good vaccine or cure. Since we already know that could be a reality, pray that God will protect you physically and mentally. And pray of course for those who are still battling the virus and for the families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Philippians 4:6

It’s okay to feel uneasy, tired, and fed up. But it’s also the best time to turn to Him. Planning is our best defense aside from God. Let’s all ponder, plan, and then pray.

I would maybe word this that it’s easier to course direct a ship that’s already in motion. Even though our plans don’t often turn out how we thought, God can do more if we are actually moving in a direction, not just listing in port.