During this time we are all being asked to stay home, not congregate, stay six feet apart, only a certain amount of people are allowed in the grocery store, non-essential businesses closed, adhere to social distancing....etc. All of a sudden....our whole lives changed. While all that is beneficial to our physical health, how is it affecting our emotional health? What are some ways we can stay connected and emotionally healthy during this time? And how does all this social distancing affect our outlook now towards connecting with others? What can we be grateful for during this time?
Sitting at my desk this morning I joined our congregation's service from the Zoom app. We all listened in to the Rabbi and other teachers over our computer. After the teaching ended, no one wanted to leave the call. We all kept lingering wanting to say hi, Shabbat Shalom, or visit with one another, longing for that personal connection. During this time in our lives we are all facing the same enemy, fighting the same fight, we are being united towards the same goal. We all want to get back to our normal lives. We all long for that social connection. Isn't it amazing how sometimes in our lives we long to stay home, not go to work, and not deal with a lot of people, but then when we are forced to stay home, we crave the connection and fellowship of others? Because that is how God designed us. He designed us to congregate, to fellowship with others, to celebrate, to enjoy a meal with others, to encourage one another, to attend a funeral together, and to pray together. "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." Romans 12:15.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenging time for us all. From those who have lost loved ones, to so many social events being cancelled, to people losing work, and to those struggling to adapt to everything going online. Everyone is feeling the grief of loss, and the drastic change. But maybe this will make us stronger in our relationships with others. Hopefully it will make us more appreciative of others. This social distancing has allowed us to witness something profound and moving about ourselves: our fond and deeply felt desire to be connected to one another. This pandemic also shows how we are strong, how we can adapt, how we can overcome, and (thanks to our technology) we as communities can still come together online.
Let us look back on the times when we could celebrate with each other in person with gratefulness, and let us be more appreciative of connecting with people. More appreciative of working with people, of all the times people are brought together; be it a celebration or even a funeral. Maybe this entire pandemic will give us a greater sense of the importance of connecting, and helping one another. How are you letting this social distancing affect you? Remember, God does test us as He says in Isaiah 48:10, "Behold I have refined you....I have tested you in the furnace of affliction". But He also says He will never give us more than we can handle and He will never leave us. So be encouraged, God will walk with us through these rising waters, Isaiah 43:1. Don't let the impact of social distancing bring you down, but rather be hopeful for the future, and be excited for all the times when we will be able to come together again. And be grateful for the community God has given you.
Until then it is important to keep a schedule, create a routine and to be diligent. Here are some ideas for staying healthy and encouraged while social distancing.
Study a foreign language.
Learn a new instrument.
Design photo albums. There are many online options for this, or you can do the old fashioned scrap book method.
Start a garden, if you don't have the space, start a pot garden.
Find a new hobby.
Read new books
Frequently call/Facetime/Zoom/Skype your family and friends.
Try new recipes in the kitchen.
Learn about wine.
Take an online course.
Start your own podcast.
Learn a new skill.
Remodel some of our house.
Clean out your closet.
Clean out your car.
Clean out your cupboards.
Work out daily, you can find tons of Youtube workout videos.
Above all stay positive and know that we are all going through this together, and hopefully it will all be over soon.