While discussing the strangeness that is self-quarantine, Lindsey turned to me and said something to the effect of, “I mean this sincerely…I am proud of the way you are handling no sports.” We both chuckled a little bit, but we were both kind of surprised about it, honestly. As I thought about it, I realized that our TV has been on less since there are no sporting events happening. It used to be just a habit to turn on the screen to whatever event was taking place; football, hockey, baseball, basketball, or whatever might be happening. Often, I was not even paying attention to the event, it was just on for background. But it has disappeared, and honestly, I don’t mind. Perhaps if it was football season I would feel differently! But I honestly have not missed sports. It was the sudden realization I was not saddened to see something I had invested time, energy, attention and stress into go away…I am perhaps, on some level, even a bit relieved.
As I’ve communicated with a number of different persons, in a multitude of different stages of life, and professional experiences covering more areas than I could ever articulate, I discovered that my realization is not isolated. I am not the only one coming to the conclusion that some habits, tendencies, and ways in which I spend my time are simply distractions, and not that enjoyable to pursue. Am I greatly missing some aspects of how life was before COVID-19? Absolutely! Not being able to see anybody, let alone shake hands or give a hug is extremely difficult. But, there are many distractions and unnecessary parts of life that I am comfortable letting go. Attaching myself to the TV for hours every night? No, thank you. Making excuses as to why I cannot get my "to-do" list completed? Not anymore. Justifying not reading my Bible every day? That's gone.
Our paradigm is shifting. Our structure is changing. Our lives will never be the same as they were before COVID-19. That is honestly how I feel about the future of our societies. Will we reach the point when our communities "open-up" again? Without question. Will we reach the point when we no longer have to wear masks in public or social distance? Definitely. We will not remain in our current circumstance for the foreseeable future, that is simply impossible. We are already seeing signs of businesses and professions returning to some level of action in the coming weeks. We will eventually be able to go to the mall, eat in restaurants, and even go to concerts and sporting events again. This is thankfully, an inevitability. Our question is not "if" but "when" this will be the case. Many aspects of life will go back to the way it was before our self-quarantine.
However, I firmly believe there are going to be permanent changes to the structures of our societies. I do not necessarily mean that there will be different governmental regulations, although that seems like a possibility. I mean that our society will culturally change. There are going to be businesses and professions that disappear due to this. It is unfortunate, but requiring small businesses to shut down for months will have an impact. There are going to be new businesses that develop as a result of this situation. More people will permanently work from home, as businesses discover that many are able to fulfill their professional responsibilities with very little to no time spent "at the office." Society is going to better appreciate the work that teachers and school systems put into providing education for our children. Colleges will turn to more and more online courses and credits, with less students ever setting foot on campus. More people will discover that a ton of learning can be done on our own. Families will discover that they enjoy learning at home together and switch to some type of homeschooling. Many will examine new ways to disconnect from the grid, and provide as much for ourselves, as possible. New family traditions will be formed. A deeper appreciation for the simple parts of life will be developed. A renewed focus on physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional health will permeate. Distractions and comfortabilities that add little to nothing vital to our lives will disappear. Our paradigm is shifting, and I pray you are shifting with it.
The Church will be shifting, as well. I'm not sure exactly how it will look, feel, and function, but I do not envision the Church returning to being exactly the same as it was prior to this pandemic. But the one thing that I do know for certain that brings me great comfort is the fact the Church will continue to exist, the Word of God will continue to be preached, and Christ will continue to be worshipped. No matter how far we shift, these will remain.