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Three Things I learned from COVID

By John A Carroll

Week 42 in the Word—October 15-21, 2021

I must confess that these past nineteen months have been wearisome and emotionally difficult for me despite my good ideas and intentions last year on “Day 3.” I wrote a blog on the subject which sounds naïve and simplistic looking back. I had lost my zest for life and no longer woke up each morning with the anticipation I had known.

Here are three essentials of my revised theory of flourishing during a pandemic:

1. We need more than a routine. Life can be monotonous, for sure, but the alternative--to lose much of the familiar things in our schedules--is even worse. During the pandemic, my temporary job ended, my weekly Sunday School class was suspended, trips to see family were cancelled or postponed, and regular lunch appointments were discontinued. I understood this in 2020, but I assumed I could control this by having three categories of activities in my routine: maintenance, productivity, and fun. Routine is necessary but not sufficient without #2 & #3 below.

2. We need balance between time alone and time with others. Balance does not mean 50-50. I need more people time than some. Others need more personal time. In my case, pandemic replacement activities--like spending more time reading--did not meet my social needs. I filled my time, but the stimulation of interaction with others was missing. The pandemic restrictions sapped my zest for life. Time with others took effort, but, for me, it is indispensable even though hampered by limits like zoom and masking.

3. We need the perspective of a wise counselor. When adrift miles from shore, we cannot assess where we are or which way to go. It took a while for me to grasp that something was wrong. What was it and what did I need to do about it? I asked a wise friend to give me his perspective on what I had been experiencing. We talked for 30 minutes during which he listened to a quick summary of my life and responded with helpful observations. As a result of that, I am writing this post after a quite different week. The zest is coming back along with some of what was swept away over these months of masks, social distancing, and hand sanitizer.

So, my modified theory about how to flourish in a pandemic is to keep a routine (including maintenance, productivity, and fun), but also seek your balance between personal and people time, and get perspective from a godly counselor.

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b).

Have a great week in the word and may God bless you with a zest for life even as the pandemic drags on.

Week of October 15-21, 2021

October 15/Day 288 Distress and Comfort (Isaiah 56-58; 1 Thessalonians 3)

October 16/Day 289 Sin—Why We Can’t See God (Isaiah 59-61; 1 Thessalonians 4)

October 17/Day 290 Don’t Put Out the Fire of the Spirit (Isaiah 62-64;1 Thessalonians 5)

October 18/Day 291 What God Wants (Isaiah 65-66; 2 Thessalonians 1)

October 19/Day 292 The Meaning and Purpose of Life (Jeremiah 1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2)

October 20/Day 293 God’s Plan; Our Part (Jeremiah 3-4; 2 Thessalonians 3)

October 21/Day 294 Conscience: Good or Bad? (Jeremiah 5-6; 1 Timothy 1)

This schedule and devotionals are taken from my book Concealed and Revealed: a year in the old and new testaments. Available here.

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