Lessons from lockdown
Lessons from lockdown
20 September 2021
As millions of people in Australia face ongoing lockdowns and restrictions, a few Salvos share snippets of some of the issues they’ve struggled with the most and what helps them manage what they’re going through.
As a father of two teenagers, I struggle with seeing their active lives being nullified during what should be a vibrant time in their lives. My 19-year-old daughter has been unable to follow her travel dream, and her excitement about starting university life has been confined to studying in her bedroom. My son is a talented tennis player on the Australian junior circuit but has been unable to follow his dream, being reduced to practising on his local court. But, as a family, we are coping by doing daily walks on the beach, playing board games, and enjoying regular fire-pit nights.
My biggest pandemic lockdown struggle is not hosting family get-togethers. Before lockdowns, it was a juggling act to arrange between grandkids sport, common ‘byes’, or the end of one seasonal sport before the next started. The grandchildren can no longer really connect with cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. Videoconferencing just doesn’t cut it. School-aged kids are fed up looking at screens for school-from-home. At best, I get a quick “Hello Nan” as they move on to something more tangible than me on yet another screen. My grandkids and I crave physical connection. The tough times don't seem too much when I put everything into perspective. I've accepted I am to stay at home. I have quiet times alone in prayer; I find activities that give me a sense of accomplishment – finishing a book, knitting, weeding the veggie patch, cooking; and I schedule video catch-ups regularly with friends and share virtual afternoon tea.
I am amazed at the hope that comes alongside the desperate realisation that the pandemic just will not go away. The compulsion to watch the daily press conferences only adds to the heartache. The daily struggle is real, and yet not one of us is alone in this. The deep truths from Psalm 23 and other well-known scriptures have taught me that I can be vulnerable and strong at the same time. God gives me genuine hope in the middle of this messy experience.
My biggest struggle with lockdown, apart from the uncertainty that comes with being in and out of lockdown, is singleness. I’m okay with being on my own, but I’ve discovered that I really struggle when being home alone for long periods is forced on me! There have been times I’ve felt incredibly disconnected, so I’ve had to find ways to reconnect and keep connected. Catch-ups with friends, prayer meetings, Bible studies, survivor parties and games nights have all been carried out on Zoom, and having a bubble buddy has been a great source of comfort.
Despite working from home and daily Zoom meetings, the silence in the house and lack of face-to-face contact with people have been the hardest part of lockdown. The loneliness at times can be overwhelming. From time to time, I allow myself a few moments to acknowledge that it is hard, and it’s okay to shed a few tears, but then it’s time to move on. I call friends and family for chats, look at what’s happening overseas and whether I can contribute in any way, and make sure that every single day I do something for someone I know is struggling.
Reliance on God
Is lockdown hard? Yes, absolutely! At the moment, my mother sits in a hospital bed in the United States. I would normally be on a flight there to care for her and be there. Lockdown is hard. COVID is hard. This global pandemic has immense social, cultural, and psychological effects that will be felt for a generation. We get through this as we would any other hard and difficult situation in our lives, relying on God. “Do not grieve for the joy of the Lord is your strength,” Nehemiah chapter 8, verse 10.
It was hard in lockdown to adjust my fixer mentality into a mode of ‘let God be God working in me’ and not to be a ‘perfect pastor’ for everyone and allow God be God to working in other people’s lives. I want to ‘fix’ the problems of everyone I come into contact with. Those who have marriage problems, emotional problems, sickness, or are turning away from God. My reality is I can’t, no matter how much I want to. I learnt only God can ‘fix’ people’s circumstances and change the hearts of people. I need to remind myself constantly, that I can place my hope in God wholeheartedly and that he will fix my problems and those of others in his time. I have to let go and let God.
The sense of ‘disconnection’ from friends, family and work colleagues. Listening/watching the news and seeing the negative reactions from people, whether on social media or in other ways, is upsetting. To help cope with this, I limit the amount of news I watch. I am very fortunate to live near the beach, so at least five mornings a week I am in the ocean or a rock pool, swimming. I have also discovered new worship music to listen to. My husband and I talk to our sons each week to see how they are going. We attend online church every Sunday to stay connected with our faith community. I have also started volunteering one day a week with my church handing out hampers to community members in need. I am thankful to God every day that I have the opportunity to encourage someone who is struggling more than I am.