COVID-19 How to live in uncertain times (17 - Family life: challenges & opportunities for Jesus)
See part 1 of this series here.
My husband and I have a joke going at the moment when people ask how we are coping with the current nationwide lockdown for COVID-19. As we live in ‘the sticks’, with few neighbours and limited social life, and as parents of young children, very little has changed for us! Life is like normal!
Of course, this is not really true and as the second week of the lockdown progresses, with our usual rhythm of work commute, nursery/school runs, exercise times, playgroups and other social activities erased, the reality has hit us that all of this extra ‘stuff’ was what added to so much of the vibrancy of life. We had comfort in the rhythm of our working week and the rest provided by the weekend. We also had great enjoyment from contributing to and receiving from the various communities we are usually plugged into, from our village, school, work and church, which very much require our physical presence in order to relate effectively to those friends.
It is so easy to think about the immediate challenges that this lockdown creates for us all. They will be different for each one of us. As a mother of three daughters aged 2-6 years it was easy for me to slip into panic mode two weeks ago as it dawned on me what changes were about to befall us, as the nation prepared to protect our vulnerable. Schools and nurseries closing, disrupted food supplies, and I am ashamed to admit, the loss of precious, carefully-planned personal space engineered into my hectic week of caring for my family. It is a challenge managing the needs of a young family at the best of times, even without COVID-19 restrictions – this was not what I needed!
Yet, as this week has progressed and the dust has settled on our new rhythm – of me home-schooling and my husband working from a hastily constructed ‘home office’ in the nursery – I have been filled with more of a peace in my heart and I am beginning to see the opportunities of our situation.
Firstly, as we spend more time with our daughters we are getting to know their characters in more depth. I will admit that the days for me are very intense and I have to regularly send up prayers of thanks for inquisitive and questioning minds, as I pour another strong coffee! But, what an opportunity to come alongside our children, build connections and shepherd their hearts for a hope in and love of Christ! We are navigating conversations that we usually would not have had time for in our busy week, about illness, the vulnerable, about uncertainties in life, about death, about heaven and God’s character. It has been wonderful.
I could give you my top 10 practical tips of what we’ve done to survive lockdown and fill the days, but what is more relevant is our attitudes to our own situations and giving God the glory. Daily reminders of scripture, for kids and adults alike, can be a wonderful way to help with this. We have a small wall in our kitchen painted in blackboard paint, the idea being that the kids would graffiti there with chalk rather than other parts of the home. It then became a spot for me to write Bible verses to encourage me. As the lockdown began two weeks ago I felt drawn to write from Paul in the book of Colossians: “therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…” (Colossians 3:12). I was sorting laundry today whilst my eldest sat at the kitchen table and we were discussing the importance of patience. I jokingly began to put on pieces of clothes in a theatrical manner pretending that they were the various qualities that Paul describes in these verses. She got it, and we had a good giggle at my craziness.
Secondly, with the daily distraction of our busyness removed and being required to serve others so intensely, often in such a confined space, we find that we have no other option but to confront what is in front of us, our sinful natures. (‘But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved’ Ephesians 2:4).
As followers of Christ we feel convicted and we draw closer in our personal relationships with our Father God. And what joy is to be found in that! It has made me reassess what I am modelling to my daughters. What are they seeing in my attitudes throughout the day? How am I dealing with it for God’s glory?
And finally, I have been challenged about the importance of protecting my marriage when under more pressure, with less personal space and no hope of a normal date night away from the home. The devil does not want God-centred marriages! My husband and I have had conversations about working deliberately as a team. We have tried to protect time when we can talk uninterrupted and have tried especially earnestly to serve and love each other wholeheartedly. It has been challenging but it is important to acknowledge that this IS a battleground and we need to go into each day knowing that we have the Father’s protection.
Paul wrote to the early church in Corinth to encourage them saying, ‘Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain’. (1 Corinthians 15:58).
What opportunities we have in front of us right now to shepherd our kids and work as a team with our husbands or wives, in the everyday uncertainties of this time! And what confidence and peace we can find in our sovereign Father. We know that our work for Him in not in vain.
See part 18 of this series here.
During these strange and testing times, we hope to post encouragement for you here each day. As ever, if you would like to speak with a Minister, please get in touch through our contact us page.