Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

Finding Beauty in the Quarantine

There’s no doubt we are living in strange times right now. Our entire lives are turned upside-down as we attempt to navigate so many parts of life that are clearly out of our control. We are virtually prisoners in our own homes, unable to go anywhere outside of the grocery store and work…if we are so lucky as to still have a job. We are forced into time together with those who live under the same roof.

Those of us with college-aged children who live on campus are suddenly adjusting to having these young adults back in our homes full-time. As they try to stretch their boundaries and live as adults, they, too, have to adjust to being asked where they are going and when they will be back (on the rare occasion they actually leave). My daughter said it so well. She made the comment that she loves her brother and misses him, but now that he’s back, he picks on her incessantly. There’s no doubt his irritation is a show of love and affection, but she is having to adjust to having two older brothers in the house again.

I’ve noticed some particular trends.

Cooking. I am definitely cooking more. I’ve been searching Pinterest for new chicken recipes (about the only meat I have found so far). Rather than cooking dinner 3-4 times each week, I am usually cooking at least twice daily. I feel like all my time is spent in the kitchen.

The dishwasher. The dishwasher is getting quite a workout during this quarantine. Every single day. By evening, it is full and needs to be run. We normally fill the top rack with cups and such, but the bottom rack takes way longer. Not now. I seem to get up every morning and empty the dishwasher. Even though we have used a lot of paper plates and such, it is a constant reminder that we are home together.

Trash. Speaking of paper products… We produce WAY more trash. I’ve watched as our dumpster gets filled within a few days of the trash running. Usually, we barely fill the dumpster within a week. Last week, I worked in the flower beds the day the trash ran. By the time I was finished, the dumpster was full. We finally had to find a way to burn some of the weeds I pulled so we would have room for the trash.

Cleaning. So many things that have been put off for years are actually getting done. I can see the garage floor. We have begun the process of organizing rooms. We have worked hard to finish projects that had been waiting for the time and energy. It’s a breath of fresh air to walk in and see things coming together.

Laughter. We have had a few game nights where we all sit around and play games. I’m not a video game kind of person, but the boys have these game packs on Playstation where we all use our phones. We have laughed so hard together.

Talking. Monday, April 6, is the fourth anniversary of the kids’ death. The second anniversary of Roy’s dad’s death was just last week. This time of year is always somewhat emotional. Add to that my younger son is a senior in high school and has now missed his prom. There’s no indication he will have a graduation or any of the things kids look forward to for years. The upside is that we have had ample opportunity to just sit and talk, to discuss the emotions and the pain and some of the things the kids didn’t know over the years. I have enjoyed the conversations I’ve had with my family over the last two weeks.

Time. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, my hours were cut drastically. Starting this week, I’m back at work 32 hours/week…not full-time, but at least I will have most of a paycheck. But, I have to tell you how much I have actually enjoyed the time off. I’ve been taking my dog for daily walks. I’ve had time to work ahead on my Masters degree. I’ve had time to connect with God. I’ve been able to sit and watch movies and television shows I never would have before. It has been a time of refreshing and renewal, something I desperately needed.

As I look over this list of experiences during this time, I am reminded just how much our mindset impacts our experiences. I could choose to dwell on the negatives: loss of money, fear of catching Covid-19, my son missing the end of his senior year. There is so much negativity in our lives right now.

However, we are commanded to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We are taught to think on things that are lovely and noble and true and right and excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). We are taught to put our hope and focus on God so His perfect peace will guard our hearts and minds (Isaiah 26:3). As we go through the Psalms, we find David choosing to change his fear and anxiety into praise as he finds rest and comfort in the Father.

And, as Christians, this is how we weather the storms of this life.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Covid-19. It doesn’t matter if it’s your spouse’s affair. It doesn’t matter if it’s an unwanted divorce. It doesn’t matter if it’s a death that breaks our hearts. It doesn’t matter what this life throws at us.

What does matter is our attitude, our response to what life gives us. Life does not have to determine our future. It will impact our future. It will change us. But what kind of changes it makes is up to us. We can choose to find the good in this life. We can choose to remember the beauty of the loved one we lost. We can choose to let God take our divorce and find ways to use it for our good and His glory.

It’s about surrendering to the Father. Letting Him take what this life throws at us and using it to change us. Allowing Him to guide us through the wilderness, providing for our every need at just the right time. It’s about allowing Him to do a work in our hearts. It’s about Him doing a mighty work in us so He can do a mighty work through us.

It’s about allowing Him to create beauty our of our broken lives.

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