Starting with an identity theft nightmare that also served as a wake-up call in 2015, my family and I have been on an intense mission to simplify our lives.
We sold our home and two acres of land, let go of about 90% of our physical possessions, paid off all our debt, and removed everything on our schedules that were enslaving and overwhelming us. Three years into our minimizing journey, my husband’s job was unexpectedly outsourced, and what followed was a long stretch of multiple medical issues and 21 months of unemployment. These life-altering changes have come together to produce a surprising, yet beautiful shift in paradigm— we now spend most of our time at home.
It is interesting to look back and see that our journey has been preparing us for such a time as this. Except for “essential” and thought-out, purposeful reasons for being out and about, we are already used to being home. Home is the core of all our activities and the place we most long to be. I find an enormous sense of peace in knowing my little family and I are all together, safe, inside the walls of our home, and to tell you the truth, I don’t miss one bit of the fast lane hustle and bustle. For years, I craved this sense of calm. It has already become our norm, so I can honestly say that little has changed for us during this time of lockdown.
I am not in any way diminishing the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic. My heart goes out to every person who is ill, has lost a loved one or their job, or been otherwise adversely affected by all that is happening. Standing on the other side of all my family and I have walked through, I just want to point out that positive change and good things are happening, too.
1. Social distancing from others is revealing how socially distant we have become from the people we love most.
Being forced to stay inside with our immediate families is presenting an amazing opportunity for reconciliation and restoration of fractured relationships. Families are staying inside their homes—together. For the life of me, I cannot find one negative in that. We have been handed a precious gift in the form of time and limited options on how to spend it.
It warms my heart to drive down our street and see a family in their yard playing together, couples walking hand in hand on the trail behind our home, and children standing in line (at a safe distance, of course) outside the ice cream truck that comes through our neighborhood each evening. It reminds me of my childhood when life was a whole lot simpler and easier to navigate.
Home is our personal haven. No matter what is going on in the outside world, we can close the door at home and realize that we are right where we are supposed to be. Though we are “sheltering at home” mandatorily, maybe we should consider making “home-sheltering” a voluntary way of living and spending more time there when this is all over. There truly is no place like home.
2. When my husband’s 35-year career in banking was brought to a screeching halt, he came to realize he never enjoyed that kind of work, and he began to open his mind to new possibilities.
He was eventually offered an amazing opportunity to do something he can physically handle, and he is now settled into a meaningful job he really loves. If you have lost your job, I feel your pain. I know how the threat of homelessness feels. I am keenly aware of the panic of looking into an empty freezer. But a beautiful new life is hiding behind the loss of your job. Something better is coming to you. Be aware and watchful. One day you will find purpose in today’s pain. There is a reason for this and sometimes the only way out of a rut is to be pushed. Embrace the possibilities ahead of you. You were not meant to keep doing what you were doing, and brighter days are coming.
3. Maybe “normal” shouldn’t be normal anymore.
Maybe we shouldn’t be so eager to get back to it. Maybe you are not meant to stay so busy. Perhaps tucked into this whole worldwide shutdown is this lesson screaming to be taught – you are not designed to run through life. You are intended to slowly and methodically walk out your days in a state of peace. Take a deep breath and instead of fighting against this time of stillness, embrace what it may be trying to reveal to you. Spend this time reassessing your priorities.
What is most important to you now? Perhaps it is time to start saying no to commitments and obligations that are no longer serving you and your family’s best interests. Maybe you need to shed relationships that have become toxic. Make two lists — things you are involved in and people in your life. As you write the lists, pay attention to how each entry on the list makes you feel as your hand jots it down. What brings instant anxiety to you? What brings a sense of calm?
There is no better time than the present to do this. Stillness and quiet bring incredible clarity of vision. Don’t waste this time complaining and wishing for the old “normal.” Normal has been given a clean slate. May it emerge from this crisis new and improved and what it should have been all along.
4. Make productive use of time indoors by minimizing, decluttering, and organizing.
Tackle those projects you’ve been putting off because you never had time for them. Now you do! Make a to-do list and try to cross off one task each day.
Continually search for the good. It is happening – we just need to look for it.
About the Author: Cheryl Smith is the author of the blogs Biblical Minimalism where she writes about minimalism from a Biblical perspective and Homespun Devotions where she writes devotionals and conducts “Inner Views.”