I’m a relatively calm and cheery person, but lately I’ve been on edge and even short-tempered. Obviously, quarantine life is affecting me, but I didn’t really understand why.
So I did what I usually do when I can’t solve a problem. I asked my wife. I said, “I don’t know why I’m so depressed and on edge. My life hasn’t been radically affected by the virus. We have money in the bank, food in the fridge, and everyone in our family is healthy. So why am I still so upset?”
My wife said, “It’s the virus. It’s led to so much uncertainty. We don’t know how long this is going to last. And we don’t know how to respond to it. Also, simple tasks like going to the grocery store now require concentration. And all of it is sucking the life from your soul, like the Dementors from Harry Potter.”
As usual, she was right.
Some of you can quickly spot why you feel so depressed or anxious. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one. Or maybe your hours have been cut or you lost your job. But others of you maybe can’t really pinpoint why you feel so afraid or frustrated. Let me assure you. It’s the virus. Your spouse didn’t suddenly become more annoying. Your kids didn’t start becoming more needy. The weather didn’t just start becoming more erratic. It’s the virus. These restrictions are testing us all.
So what are we going to do about it?
Here are three things I’m trying to do to survive and even thrive through quarantine.
1. Take one day at a time. When the nation of Israel was wandering through the wilderness, the Lord fed them with manna each day. Their daily bread was a reminder to take life one day at a time. When they were tempted to return to Egypt or longing to race into the Promised Land, they were to remember to trust God in the moment.
I can’t change the past, and I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. All I can do is trust God to walk with me today.
2. Set goals but be realistic. God created us to be purpose-driven creatures. We were made in God’s image to create, do, love, and serve. There are many things we can’t do right now, and so we might be tempted to do nothing at all. This will most definitely lead to depression and hopelessness.
So I’m trying to set some realistic goals for myself. I’m definitely not going to be able to keep up my same routine of exercise, writing, and reading. But just because I can’t do everything doesn’t mean I can’t do anything.
3. Practice gratitude. There are so many things that have been taken away from us. We can’t visit our family or friends. We can’t go to our favorite sporting events. We can’t worship Jesus together in our churches. And yet the virus hasn’t taken everything from us. I can still enjoy the beauty of creation. Jesus continues to call me his brother. God is still here.
When the pandemic began, I was optimistic. I saw it as an interruption that might help us rearrange our priorities. I no longer see this as a brief interruption. This pandemic has turned everything upside down, affecting everybody at some level. I’m no longer minimizing how it is affecting my emotional and spiritual health. It’s the virus. And this virus is a big deal. But God is bigger. He will never let us go.