The New Normal
by Lena Nelson Dooley
“New normal” has been a major catch phrase in the twenty-first century, and now more people than ever are experiencing it. There’s a worldwide pandemic. Besides those who are personally infected with COVID-19, so many have had to “shelter in place” or self-quarantine. So many have lost their income. For others, they’ve even lost their jobs permanently. I understand this, because people in my immediate family have had all these things happen to them, except getting the virus.
One daughter is a hairdresser, and all the salons were closed. The company where her husband works went out of business. He lost his job right after the shelter-in-place order was lifted. One of their daughters worked in childcare. The center closed. Our other son-in-law worked in a gym, and his wife was unemployed.
We are no longer able to attend church in person. James and I have been active church members for all our 55 years of marriage. We go to a large church where we volunteer regularly and connect with many of our friends every week. Our lives have turned upside down.
These situations are duplicated over and over around our wonderful country. All of this upsets our balance, and the possibility of catching the virus carries great fear with it. The conflicting news reports have us doubting who we can really trust to tell us the truth.
Those of us who know the Lord realize He is our provider. Our healer. Our everything. A verse that has long been a favorite of mine is, “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread” (Psalm 37:25 NKJV).
We have the peace that passes understanding in our souls. Storms can gather around us, but we know God is with us in everything. That peace cannot be shaken. Most of us have learned to rest in Him during these times of high stress.
I’m not going to trivialize the trauma many people are experiencing. Look around you and really study what you see. Search for how this dilemma has changed things for the better.
Here’s what I’ve found. Neighbors are helping neighbors. Sometimes sharing what they have that the neighbor was unable to obtain. Toilet paper. Hand sanitizer. Masks to protect them when they need to go out. Even cooking for another of the neighbors, picking up things for someone when they go to the grocery store, or taking a neighbor who doesn’t drive to the store with them. All these things and more are happening on the block where we live.
What that means is that people are thinking of others more than they ever have. They’re, or should I say we’re, realizing what things are really important. Not the missed beauty shop appointments or visits to the gym. Not going to major league baseball, football, or basketball games or watching them on TV, which James and I do. As you look around, you’ll see so many people who are changing from self-interested to being interested in what’s going on around them.
A local florist was interviewed on TV yesterday. She has a call-in business for now. People tell her their messages for the recipients of the flowers and plants. One thing she said is that the messages she’s receiving are more heartfelt and personal than ever before in the many years she’s been open.
I don’t know about where you are, but here in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, crime is down. This is good because first responders are needed elsewhere.
My husband has been volunteering for a local ministry that usually provides food, clothing, and job training. Since the pandemic started, they’ve only been a major supplier for people who need food. The rest has been shut down because of the virus. The number of people who need food has skyrocketed. But so have donations. We’ve seen news stories about places all over the Metroplex where the same thing is happening with food pantries. The more people drive by needing food, the more the amount of food being supplied to the pantries grows exponentially. Both donations from individual families and major food suppliers. Right now, there’s no reason to go without food, because others are opening their hearts and hands.
When I first started seeing things online about farmers unable to ship their produce because restaurants weren’t open and milk producers were pouring a serious number of gallons down the drain for the same reason, I prayed that some way could be found to get their products into the hands of the people who really need them. It wasn’t long before more news stories told about a group of truckers who were out of work, banding together to pick up the produce and milk. Soon there was another story of a benefactor paying the farmers and dairies, then shipping what they bought to food banks. This kind of thing soon spread across the country.
The ministry where James volunteers is receiving an enormous amount of food each week. They are feeding people who never thought they’d ever need to get food from a ministry or food pantry.
Another benefit we’ve experienced is that people who are unable to attend church in person can now experience the same kind of dynamic worship and preaching online. Others who weren’t even attending church before are joining in. This pandemic opened the door for outreach on a level never even dreamed of before.
The local TV stations run stories every day now about the creative ways families are filling the time spent in the shut-down. Some are funny, some are fun, and many exhibit art and music.
Yes, we’re in a traumatic situation, but we have a lot of hope to cling to until we reach a brighter tomorrow.
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