While each day is feeling more and more like a scene out of the movie, Groundhog Day, navigating these days of unanticipated time with my immediate family has been endearing and unforgettable, peppered with some tense moments. Our college-aged girls moved out of their dorms for the semester and have filled their rooms with a lot of stuff. Each of them has online classes that vary in class times and expectations. One school is optional pass/fail and the other is not for her major. Our son is a sophomore in high school and has settled into his new school schedule of distance learning that results in a full day of active learning with breaks of time for outside play with the dog or a video game with friends from school before the next class. Mike’s voice can be heard throughout the house as he manages his work world from home. Dogs are in and out and the dishwasher runs constantly. We are all safe and healthy.
When I think about what is helping us make it through each day, a little more gracefully, I reflect on the power that only God can provide, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” (Eph. 3:20-21) Thank goodness it not up to me and my abilities to have the patience, omnipotence or control of the day-to-day operations of our home.
A key word I have settled on this week is pivot. Thanks to the foundation that God provides in my life, I am more able to adapt to the ever-changing state of my world. As a creature of planning and living by my calendar, I suddenly find my days clear and “empty” of obligations. Today was to be our school auction and social at the Angus Barn and our eldest daughter’s opening night of Into the Woods at Wake Forest University. Weeks ago we struggled with how to attend both events and today we find ourselves at home with no plans. We had adjusted this year to only having one child at home, one schedule to base our weekly meals on, one wake-up time to revolve our day around, one person to talk to at the dinner table. Now, we pivot our day to accommodate multiple schedules, wake-up times, food likes and dislikes, personalities, conversation styles, workout schedules, need for time alone, need for time with people, etc. In just two weeks’ time of social distancing, we have each adapted and continue to do so every day.
I have listed some key things that have helped the most in our house as we strive for peace and unity during this time. I plan to reflect back on them daily to bolster my ability to pivot when I am weary:
- Start each day with the Lord (Psalm 119:33-40) Obedience to God offers the freedom I long for. When I assume the role of master of my life and circumstances, my days are much harder and longer.
- Admit that I am difficult to live with(Ephesians 4:21) As John Yates preached last week, we need to love the people we live with, which includes admitting how I can be unnecessarily prickly and short-tempered at times. As I have had to do this several times this week, I am thankful for the fruit of grace and forgiveness offered to me by my family
- Give grace(2 Peter 1:2) Our college girls are not “supposed” to be home right now, and our son “should” be able to interact with his peers on a frequent basis. They are challenged by this isolation and may act out in ways that aren’t typical. Giving abundant grace as I have received only calms the waters at home. Screen times are offering social interactions that they cannot find otherwise, so offering grace on the amount of time provides a more peaceful time at home. Sharing “my” kitchen space with the family or “my” way of running the household with them only makes for a smoother household environment.
- Don’t miss the point (Exodus 33:12-19)While this season is not what I planned for, ever expected or wanted, it is what it is. Over the last two weeks I have caught glimpses of the fruits and truths of God that get overshadowed by my selfishness. When will we ever have this time as a family of five together without life’s distractions? Meaningful conversations, more time available to be with the Lord, walks in the neighborhood as a family as well as with individual family members, time to reflect on devotions, pray together, listen better, appreciate what we have right in front of our faces.
In closing, I will offer some practical things that have eased the time in our home as we adapt to our new norm:
- Let the messy rooms slide.
- Exercise daily.
- Watch a series on TV as a family.
- Have one day of cleaning a week with divided responsibilities.
- Create a group family text to check in.
- Share the daily duties of feeding the dogs, cooking, cleaning and emptying the dishwasher (two times a day).
- Get outside every day!
- Schedule Zoom calls with family and friends.
- Keep a running grocery list on the kitchen counter.
- When the door is closed, don’t walk in or you may be a part of a college class!
- Enjoy the memes on social media and share with friends!
With two weeks of quarantining under our belts, I feel more prepared for the weeks ahead. I find peace in knowing that my hardships are tools of God’s redeeming work in me. I am looking for the blessings everyday despite my inconveniences.
Mary Dee Smith
Holy Trinity Member
Note: This article is republished from the April 1 Holy Trinity Student Ministry newsletter.