5 Ways to Find Peace While Transitioning out of Quarantine

young woman with face mask and glove on making peace sign grace COVID-19 coronavirus

One of my favorite television shows is Twilight Zone. I have not watched the rebooted version but enjoy the original series.

When I hear Rod Serling introduce the episode, my mind is piqued. “You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind.” The show challenges us to reflect on what we believe to be reality.

Obviously some of the episodes are truly fictional but some play on our fears and false narratives. The episodes challenge us to think about what influences our ideologies and as well as the implications. Ironically, not only have I been watching the series more than ever in the last two months but I feel like I am living in an episode.

Perhaps we all do. Life feels surreal.

As we try to grapple with walking out of quarantine, we wonder what the future holds. For some people it may offer reprieve from exhausting hours of emotional and physical investment in their jobs. For others, it means finding refreshment by enjoying warmer weather and engagement with nature.

And in the midst, questions arise about adjusting again. Even though the change in rhythms can be unsettling at first, there can be a sense of adjustment that happens after a while. It becomes familiar territory.

Now changes will take place again. How do you find peace in the transition? Here are some things to keep in mind as you walk forward.

1. Not All Circumstances Look the Same

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12

For some, these past two months brought a welcome change. Our country tends to emphasize finding joy and identity in being busy. Schedules fill up with sports activities, church programming, 24-7 work access, social appointments, and school events.

Having an empty schedule can seem counter-cultural. When life’s bustling rhythms came to a halt, it pushed some people to evaluate the foundation of their lives. As a result, the opportunity arose to make changes in lifestyle.

Families bonded over puzzles, cooking, and board games. As we anticipate returning to a form of “normal,” some may wonder how they can reconcile their welcomed quarantined routines with a return to their previous ones.

Others, who have been unable to work or have experienced challenging circumstances look forward to moving according to a more structured and stable pace. They look forward to attaining financial stability, finding workplace or school respite as restorative and being able to reconnect with friends and family.

We must remember that we all have different narratives and they influence our perception of another “new dimension.”

2. Don’t Surrender to Fear

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.

Its been said that we fear what we don’t know. From the beginning, humanity lurched toward control out of fear in multiple ways. Despite seeing God work miraculously in the past, we, like the Israelites, quickly forget. Once again, the fears loom large before us and discomfort creeps in and pulses through our veins. The heartbeat becomes an unrecognized rhythm-frantically trying to keep up with the racing thoughts running through the brain.

Catherine McNeil's description of the disciples hiding in the upper room following Jesus' execution speaks to life in any age. "The dangers did not evaporate—they would huddle in this room many times in the months to come, sheltering, praying. Life would never be “normal” again, not ever, not at all. But Jesus was in the room with them. The disaster itself became a sacred space."

Like, the disciples, we will encounter seasons of confusion, unpredictability, and even danger. They encountered it before they met Jesus and while they journeyed with him on earth. Yet, they followed him even though they likely faced more reasons to be afraid. Jesus offered them peace through his presence. In word and action, it was promised and experienced. The repetition confirmed it in their lives.

How do we carry that peace whether we stay in our homes or walk out our doors? By recognizing the numerous other times Jesus has infused us with a “peace that surpasses all understanding.” This time of transition is no different. Jesus promises us peace from the same source he received it: the Holy Spirit.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” John 14:27.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ThitareeSarmkasat 

3. Lament What Was Lost

We all lost something in these past few months. Cancelled graduation ceremonies, job lay offs, food security, school routines, physical touch, relationships, failed health and life are among the casualties during this crisis.

When expectations fail to unfold as hoped, disappointment unfolds. And the disconnect that occurs results in grief. Something died. Unacknowledged grief can manifest itself in various ways. Scripture offers numerous accounts of prayers of lament. Expressing our disappointment, discouragement, or anger to God allows us to move toward healing.

“O Lord, God of my salvation,
when, at night, I cry out in your presence,
let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry. Psalm 88:1-2

Aubrey Sampson writes about the practice of lament in her book, The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament. “Lament says, “God you have described yourself as one thing, but my life, my community, and my city currently reveal something totally different. Please! Help me see your hand in this. You broke the power of evil on the cross and at your resurrection-so please be victorious again! Show me your goodness again!”

When we lament we allow God to hold us in our pain.

4. God Makes Things New

“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

The Israelites found themselves in a new place-literally and figuratively. Despite the prophecies about the possibility of exile, the reality felt unexpected for those experiencing it. It felt unfair, confusing, uncomfortable and painful. Yet, God reminded them in its midst that they were not out of His sight. In fact, life was being planted in the wilderness.

What “new thing” is God planting in your heart? The pandemic brought to light narratives of others that you may not have recognized before.

People have found creative ways to share resources and time helping various neighbors in need: hungry families, sewing masks for medical personnel, running errands for shut-ins, sharing artistic talents to keep up morale.

Emily P. Freeman, in her book, The Next Right Thing, writes, “God often gives a faint vision of things before they ever come to be. It’s not a full form, more of a shadow, not focused or clear. It doesn’t comes with steps or money or sure things but it does come with hope. And hope is what keeps you going in the fog.”

What awareness or passion has sprung up that will flow into a new season of life?

5. Our Stories Continue

Life as we knew it existed on autopilot. The alarm clock routinely reminded us of a new day. The rhythms seemed somewhat familiar.

Work, school, sports activities, church, and errands served as extensions of our lives. They informed our identity. And then in a matter of days, the rhythm changed. After attempting to adjust to that one, another change appears on the horizon. How will we respond?

Ashley Hales writes, "Being finite, we do not understand how the providence and goodness of God interact with the evil of this virus. But we know that in God's economy nothing is wasted. As with all of the trials we walk through, He makes use of these experiences to sanctify and lead us closer to Himself. The desert will either draw us deeper into the story of a good God or cause us to turn our backs in favor of our own kingdoms of control."

May we continue to explore the story of a good God who intersects ours.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Mariia Skovpen

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