A week ago, I began writing a blog post on the right time to say “I love you” in a relationship. Now, that post feels rather trivial. In the time since I started writing it, Australia has closed its borders, the United States has warned against gatherings of more than 10 people and the UK has closed schools indefinitely.
The world we’re living in now is fundamentally different to the world we were living in last week. With the threat posed by COVID-19, and the actions being taken to mitigate that threat, there are so many aspects of life that can no longer be taken for granted:
1) A STABLE INCOME
I work for an organisation that speaks in schools throughout Australia and New Zealand. I do my 40 hours per week, the money shows up in my account, and I can pay my bills.
But if schools close (which hasn’t happened yet) or if schools adopt a policy of bringing in no external speakers (which is happening), I’m in trouble. All of a sudden, this stable income that I’ve taken for granted over the past year isn’t so stable.
For the first time, I’m having to contemplate redundancy, and the possibility of needing to find work in an economy where work will be hard to come by. What’s crazier is that my uncertainty could be considered a blessing. There are a lot of people already living the reality that I’m just having to contemplate.
2) BUYING WHATEVER FOOD WE WANT, WHENEVER WE WANT IT
Up until a week ago, it was frustrating to go to a supermarket and find that they were out of stock of a particular brand of foodstuff that I liked.
But now, if I want pasta, or bread, or bacon, I’m out of luck. The shelves are empty. For the first time in my adult life, I can’t just go to the store and buy as much bacon as I want, pretty much whenever I want.
If your family was anything like mine, you grew up constantly being reminded at the dinner table that you shouldn’t take the food on your plate for granted. But until a week ago, I still did.
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3) GATHERING TOGETHER TO WORSHIP
As someone who was raised Christian, Church has been a fixture every Sunday for all 26 years of my life. It has never even occurred to me that in a Western nation, we would be prevented from gathering together to worship. It sounds like something out of the pages of 1984.
But all over the world, governments are prohibiting the gathering of more than 100 people and Church services have been cancelled indefinitely. No more crowded pews, no more zoning out during the sermon, no more catching up with friends afterwards over lukewarm tea and biscuits.
The way that we can come together as the Body of Christ suddenly looks very different. If we’re going to gather together for worship, we’ll have to go full “64 A.D.” That means gathering together in small numbers in our homes, not unlike the early church did (though they probably had a poorer variety of biscuits).
4) HOW GOOD THE ECONOMY HAS BEEN
Just two weeks ago, my wife and I were browsing Smart TVs for our new home Now, with our future employment uncertain, we’re trying to save every dollar we can. I’m sure that many households are in the same position.
Uncertainty, panic, and the prospect of less income are all going to mean that we tighten up with our spending.
In the midst of this, it’s crazy how ridiculous non-essential purchases suddenly look. Scrolling through social media, I’m still seeing the same ads for fancy watches and influencers trying to sell their personal clothing lines. All I can think is “who cares?”
This stuff hasn’t suddenly become superficial in the past two weeks. It’s always been superficial. It has just taken me a pandemic to realise it.
CHANGING OUR PERSPECTIVE
While coronavirus has brought a lot of worries, and an alarming bacon shortage at my local supermarket, it’s also given me a new perspective. Sitting at home, I’ve felt a lot of gratitude for everything I’ve taken for granted until now: the stable income, the full supermarket shelves, the freedom to go to church every Sunday.
Whenever we emerge from our lives of social distancing and self-isolation, I hope that’s a silver lining of this situation. I hope we’ve gained new perspective. When we resume our lives, I hope we no longer take them for granted.