By now, many of you will be used to doing life electronically, having meetings on zoom or skype and seeing loved ones through a variety of video calls, picture messages and cards and because of this digital world we have been thrust into, life for me seems busier than ever – and that’s before I throw my very active 20month old into the equation! But as I reflect on things now, I’ve realised that our lives have not only changed, but altered in such a way that God can come and use the ‘slower pace’ of life to show us many things.
Life before lockdown was often busy and full of many problems and challenges but there was a joy in the freedom we had. Outside of the vast array of activities we could do, it was also our choice as to who our friends and our neighbours were, who we confided in and who we chose to be in close relation with. And for me, this brought great comfort as I knew who I could share my joys as well as my sorrows with and knew that if I was having a particularly hard day, I could look forward to seeing those I love or chatting through things over a nice drink in a café somewhere.
And in many ways I would say that ‘lockdown’ has taken all of that away. I feel perhaps more distant than ever to my friends, even my family. People are struggling under the weight of looking after children, juggling work, home and even church commitments. Pain, loneliness, resentment, frustration and grief are all given the opportunity to grow and take root because the world has slowed down enough to allow them in, and lets face it, no amount of video calling can ever replace the human need for physical company, comfort and touch. But in this period of difficulty and at times, great hardship, God has showed me that this season can also be like a ‘zoom’ or video call. Where we would once meet with someone and see only that which they allowed you to see, now with God’s help, we are able to see more than just the person. When we video call someone, we of course see them, but we also see the physical place that they are in. For me this is usually the sofa or in our bedroom when im needing some peace and quiet and today it is in our daughter’s room so that I can have my phone balanced on many boxes and have enough light. But in this period of change and slowing of pace for the world, we are challenged to follow suit, allowing God to dwell within in us and allow us to be able to spend time not only looking at the person, but to consider their surroundings as well; their hopes and fears, their greatest joys or their deepest longings. In the book of Acts, chapter 20, it says to
‘pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which He obtained with His blood.’ (Acts 20:28)
In the past when I was upset, my husband always seemed to ask me if I am ok. Of course I am not ok as I would not be crying otherwise, and the fact that he even asked me this question only seeks to make me more upset and annoyed. Whilst his question is his way of coming close and trying to help, it often felt like he was just not looking or paying attention. Thankfully, my husband is amazing and over time has now learnt to just come and see what I need, whether that be a hug, some space or even a cup of tea. But its interesting that in this lockdown period, and especially now as we make the slow transition to a period that will become more busy, though still full of many challenges, uncertainty and many ups and downs, God continues to call us to ‘pay careful attention’ not only to ourselves, but to each other; to look not only at the person we are communicating with, but to consider all that can be seen and allow God to show us all that cannot be seen. And though we may not have full insight or a way of helping them, we know that the Lord will never leave them nor forsake them and thankfully, does not need to apply social distancing either! He can meet us all right here, right now.