The last few weeks have been a crazy whirlwind of government advice, constant coronavirus news and mass stockpiling (who knew we cared so much about toilet paper?). Terms we’d barely even heard before 2020, like ‘self-isolating’ and ‘social distancing’, have found their way into normal everyday vocabulary, and yet we’re still working out exactly what they mean.
Public Health England have a whole article about what Social Distancing measures look like, and it’s clear that this action, however drastic or unnecessary it might seem, will radically help the slow of the virus. Social Distancing is what our government has asked of us, and the Bible tells us that we should honour and respect our leader’s decisions. And for those of us who are more introverted-ly inclined, we may be jumping for joy at a chance to retreat from the world. Yet, for others of us, the advice for social distancing will fill us with dread as we face the prospect of, perhaps, having nothing but our own company for who knows how long.
There are plenty of articles out online at the moment that can inspire you in your social distancing – we’ll point you to various ones throughout this blog. But here’s our own St Nic’s take on, not just how to cope, but, how to THRIVE when social distancing. Take a read.
1 // Know yourself
Whether you’re secretly pleased or genuinely dreading the thought of social distancing, both responses are valid and can go a long way in helping us know how to best help ourselves in this new strange season. Ask yourself, ‘What things make you feel most alive? What things give me energy and life?’ Work out how you can best keep these things going throughout social distancing. If you love a good chat, make sure you don’t go a day without a phoning a good friend. If you love getting outdoors, do some weeding, hang the washing out, or just have a cup of coffee sitting in the garden. If you love some peace and quiet, schedule this in and don’t just assume you’ll get it by default. Know yourself and take action.
2 // Keep some routine
One of the greatest pleasures of going on holiday is taking off your watch and forgetting all sense of time. We might be tempted to do the same whilst we’re in our houses social distancing, but with no one knowing how long this might be for, it is better to continue with normal routines where we can. If you’re working or studying from home, get up, shower and get dressed at your normal time, have lunch and finish work when you normally would. The BBC have written a great article on how to best work from home. Keep some routine of exercise, of working weekdays and the joy of weekends and, most importantly, keep your routine of spending time with God. Without a commute to work, you may even be able to spend a bit longer in your Bible and in prayer.
3 // Keep in contact
We are so blessed with so many methods of keeping in contact with each other, that there is really no excuse to not! If you were due to meet a friend, your family, your core group, mentor or community, don’t just give up and cancel – skype, call or voice note instead! Prefer writing things down? Why not take the time to craft an email or letter to a friend you’ve been thinking of. Let’s use this time to serve others and keep pursuing community.
4 // Find fresh opportunities
And finally, let’s not miss the fresh opportunities that come at this time. Sure, there may be good opportunities to pick up an old hobby, to declutter or deep clean the house, but there is also fresh opportunity to grow in faith. In the Bible, we read how God is able to work all things together for the good of those who love Him. Let’s be God’s agents as he works all things together for our good! Let’s find ways to…
Grow in love for God. If you haven’t read your Bible in a while, this might be the perfect time to pick it up again. Do some Bible journaling, read that Christian book that’s been gathering dust on your bookshelf, listen to a podcast, re-vamp your prayer life or find new ways to worship.
Grow in love for one another. As a church we have an exciting opportunity to grow in love for one another in new ways. We have opportunities to step up and take initiative in caring and looking out for another. And we have opportunities to grow in cheering each other on in faith and mission. We’ll be sharing some official guidelines for Communities and Core Groups soon, but do be looking out for those who aren’t part of one of these and check in with them. You can use ChurchSuite to find out people’s email addresses if you don’t already have them!
Grow in love for the world. We are bringers of hope in a time that seems hopeless to many. Let’s take the unique opportunities available to grow community with our neighbours, to serve those around us who have needs, to let people know we are praying for them and to share church services on social media(!). And we are called to intercede for our world. 24/7 Prayer have produced some great resources to help us pray during this time, so do check them out.
How do we thrive when social distancing? Know yourself – know what gives you energy and make sure you do it. Keep some routine – keep going with the routines you can to make life feel more normal. Keep in contact – make the use of technology to keep in contact with others. And find fresh opportunities – let’s use this time to proactively grow in love for God, for others and the world around us. Let’s pray that we will not just cope with social distancing, but that we will all thrive.