Personal insights I gained from isolation

Susan Harris
June 17, 2020

When the world turns upside down, when there is government-decreed lockdown and social isolation, where does one turn? Where did I turn?

 The COVID19 pandemic has brought out the best and the worst in me. (with a nod to Charles Dickens) Much has been written (maybe too much!) and I have devoured articles and commentary. The way I usually cope with my world is to mix with its inhabitants and connect with them. I like talking and socialising and meeting over coffee and or lunch, participating in my church community. I love having friends and family over for dinner. In my retirement I have become involved in several volunteer activities – but all of these shut down face-to-face interaction and, instead, Zoomed their way through the ether of technology.

My search for comfort

So, where did I turn? The faith filled correct answer is to turn to God. I should have recalled those verses with which I have so often encouraged others. The standout for me was reading about the apostle Paul - exhorting us all, including me, to not be anxious about anything.  To pray, with thanksgiving, and bring your requests to God.  Then you will have a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). But, where was my comfort? Where was my peace? I could not even visit my Mum in an aged-care facility nor see our children and grandchildren. I was anxious.

My husband was extremely content with the lockdown. He is not the social creature that I am, and our differences were highlighted as we circled around each other, me being quite envious of his contentment. His study was a place of creative writing and research, and without interruptions of my social planning. My need for interaction was partially solved in several ways; firstly by my husband committing to one long walk a day with me and at lunchtime together doing the daily crossword, secondly, I rang one friend each day and had a long chat, and thirdly, I organised driveway drinks with our neighbour each week. However, I was relaxed from the driveway drinks and walks but not at peace.

The things I learnt about myself

This made me come to face-to-face with my own character flaws. I realised that keeping busy often took me away from examining and reflecting on myself. Now that I had so much time, I did not like what I saw. My contentment came from the mutual joy of being with others, the affirmation from others when a task was completed and the pride that came with this. None of this was God driven. I was anxious! I wanted and needed that peace of God that passes all understanding.

In this time of vulnerability, I became more open to what God had to teach me. As Socrates quoted from Plato, the unexamined life is not worth living. I faced the truth. Where was my trust? Often, we desperately need someone else to pray and encourage us in our daily walk with God. It was my husband who did this for me early in the lockdown and social isolation: he read from this very chapter from Philippians, and prayed for me and with me.

I am reacquainted with my selfish and proud character. I am aware, in a new and enhanced way, how vital it is to be in daily prayer and Bible reading. It was a metaphorical kick start, to be more God and other person focussed.

To whom can you reach out or with whom will you share your vulnerabilities? God is sovereign and is trustworthy. Share your vulnerabilities. Nothing is a surprise to Him and He wants us to draw close as we bring our prayers and pleas to Him as we journey towards eternity. This is a message for all time.

Where did you turn in lockdown and social iso?

Susan Harris is now retired from the education profession. She has enjoyed a productive and fulfilling working life in schools, while also enjoying a loving home life with husband Roger and, together, parenting 3 daughters.  Susan is now Nanna to 8 grandchildren. One of Susan’s loves has always been reading. Retirement has allowed more time and she has joined a Book Club. She also volunteers at Engage Work Faith and is a member of Rotary.  Reading allows her to experience worlds beyond her own. Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: “We clung to books and to our friends; they reminded us that we had another part to us.”

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