Yesterday, my husband mentioned to our ministry team all the ways he’s observed what we’ve had to become these past nine weeks. He mentioned these five key traits: creativity, perseverance, spiritual depth, positivity, adaptability.
I’ve grown! You’ve grown! We are growing. Tell your children!
Over the past nine weeks of this pandemic, I think about creativity and innovation: making meals with limited groceries, throwing parties virtually, connecting with family and friends in new ways, and designing course material in online formats.
I think about perseverance. I think about the long, scary, and sad days. I think about the day-after-day fear in the early days. I think about the day I learned about school closures and how the months ahead stretched out into uncertainty and loss. But every day, we woke up. We took showers. We drank coffee. We pressed into the day. We walked every day with our neighbors–probably over 100 miles by now. Day after day.
The spiritual depth I’ve observed in others and see growing now in myself might be the greatest fruit of this pandemic. I’ve never before in my life prayed as I have, read God’s word as eagerly and desperately as I have, and joined with others in daily corporate prayer as I have. I’ve logged in to online church with more zeal. I’ve worshiped with more passion. I cried out to the Lord with more urgency.
I’ve had to enact the command to be joyful in all circumstances as God’s will for me in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17). I chose positivity, and it was hard. It was hard. I played music in the kitchen; I pointed out the beauty of springtime; I reported the wonder of what I’d learned in God’s word; I laughed over John Krasinski’s Some Good News; I planned movie nights and delicious treats and practiced hopeful speech. I watched the news and reiterated God’s sovereign control of global events. I lamented while also choosing hope–just like Jeremiah in Lamentations 3. I refused to complain (on most days) and asked the Holy Spirit to help me “do everything without arguing and complaining” (Philippians 2).
And the new me? She’s adaptable. I’m not usually this way. I’m a planner who depends upon future certainties. I don’t like to change my schedule or deviate from the course. That was the old me. Now, I wake up and think that nobody knows what a day will bring. The rigid me now bends and shifts to what the situation invites.
I told my Penn State students to add a line to their resumes to capture what they learned during this pandemic. They might include an entire section called COVID-19 and tell employers how they seamlessly transitioned to online collaborative learning environments. Tell them how they exhibited hourly creativity and innovation, perseverance, spiritual depth, positivity, and adaptability.
This has been hard. This has been life-changing. But look what we have learned.