Has the coronavirus changed your way of living? Being quarantined has significantly changed our fast-paced world, yet maybe there is valuable lesson to learn.
We are a busy society. We pride ourselves on getting things done quickly and efficiently and in large quantities. We focus on creating goals and working tirelessly to achieve them and we praise each other for it. Being a mother, I hear the phrase “I’m busy” so often that it seems our society actually looks down on people who aren’t goal-oriented, calendar-driven lunatics. The only time we praise people for inaction is when their work has been so hectic that we applaud them for taking a break because they have justified their down time. “I deserve to unwind,” “I need this break,” and “I’ve worked so hard for it” are phrases we use to justify rest. In other words, our society encourages the craziness of keeping a full plate. Up until recently I can honestly say that I fit this description. I enjoy planning, scheduling, coordinating working and “keeping busy.”
My Story: Through out most of my life keeping a full plate of activities has given me a sense of value, that somehow I was a rock star because I could juggle multiple things and do them with great sophistication. And honestly, I enjoyed being involved in lots of activities. Yet there were times I would find myself so busy that I couldn’t keep it all straight.
I didn’t want to admit to anyone I was overwhelmed because I already knew the answer was “You’re taking on too much.” I would go through this crazy pattern of overcommitting because I thought I was being helpful and others needed me — and then I would burn out and melt down. I would eventually pull out of an activity, only to replace it with a new one.
I’ve repeated this cycle many times, and recently was no exception. Starting the year off, I committed to chairing a major fundraiser for my daughters’ school, volunteering as a volleyball coach for two teams, serving as a lector, participating in Bible study and running my kids to and from practices all the while being a full-time teacher, mother, and wife.
There was a point where I had to tell myself that some of this was temporary and the busy craziness was all for the greater good, but truth be told, I was worn out. It was a lot. The phrase, “I don’t know how you do it” seemed like a compliment to me, and yet at the core I was exhausted, depressed, and stressed. I prayed that God would offer me some kind of serenity to get through the craziness that I inflicted on myself yet again.
AND THEN EVERYTHING CHANGED. I did not realize just how busy my world was when it all came to a halting stop. Just like that, the COV-19 spread throughout the world and our government forced us into social distancing and put a ban on large gatherings, and limited social interaction. All the activities and events that I had been a part of were no longer a priority. Staying safe and connected with my family was much more important. Everything that I had focused on the week before was not important and no longer took precedent. I have to admit, when our government mandated that no social gatherings should take place and all my engagements were canceled, I felt a sense of relief. It had to take a pandemic for me to step away.
The irony is I knew deep down inside that something major would have to make me slow down; I just didn’t expect something like this. I knew that the rate I was going wasn’t healthy and my family was aware of it. I was aware of it too, but I didn’t know how to say no, I still don’t to some degree, and while I would never pray for a pandemic to take place I am grateful that my plate is no longer full. Now I am forced to do less. Staying in my home to avoid interaction limits all the extras that I had put such a high priority on. My “no, I can’t” had to come from someone or something else, because I couldn’t do it myself.
How many of us do this to ourselves? How many of us don’t know the limits to our own sanity, so that it has to be imposed on us? How can we learn to create the balance of being active and giving of ourselves without taking on so much? As women I think it is our nature to take on more than we should, but when can we say no so that we have time to say yes to God?
Now I spend my days praying, homeschooling my children, and setting up distance learning for my own students. My days are much slower, yet so much more fulfilling and rewarding. And while it is all new and the future has so many unknowns, I am at peace because I know that God is in control and He has been all along. I can now acknowledge it and I no longer want to try to dictate it.
When the wave of this new era lifts and so-called normalcy returns, will I return to the state of being busy? I’m not sure, but I know that I can’t keep the same pace as before and don’t want to. This pandemic has taught me that everything that’s truly important was right in front of me all along. It has taught me to realize that God loves me no less, and yet I can now see it.
Copyright 2020 Andrea Bear