A blogpost from Lindsey Goodyear
“Scenes from an apocalypse” would be the only way I’d be able to describe the last month around here. On March 13, 2020, we got a call from our son’s school letting us know that school would be canceled for the next two weeks. The following week, it was confirmed it would be closed until after spring break. Then, last week, we were formally notified that our kids would not be returning to school for the remainder of the year. With each passing week, more and more businesses closed. With each passing week, more and more people filed for unemployment. With each passing week, we lost access to parks, the beach, church, and gatherings of any kinds with those we love. We were advised to stay home to “stay safe”. If we absolutely needed to go out, gloves and a mask should be worn but it should be a “necessary” outing as every time we left home, it was a risk to us and the most vulnerable among us. News outlets were splattered with devastating headlines of what the coronavirus pandemic was doing to our world. Death tolls ticked up and we were left to watch, unable to believe our eyes. What on Earth was happening?
As I’ve shared before, I struggle with anxiety. One thing that helps, is conversing with others and making a connection. I’m definitely someone who gets energy from being out and about. I love talking to the parents at drop-off and pickup, I love meeting friends to exercise with, and I love making small talk with people I don’t know while I’m around town. I love to cook and some weeks I go to the market four or five times. Because of this, I know most of the people who work there and look forward to seeing them. In short, I’m a gal who thrives on conversation. So, when we received the news about our new way of living, I did my best to ward off panic and be in good spirits. So, we are homeschooling? That’s okay. It’s an opportunity to spend more time with my boys. So, I have to exercise alone? That’s okay. I’ll use the time to do some deep meaningful thinking. So, I can’t go to the market on a daily basis? That’s okay. When I do go, I will smile and chat with people the way I always do. But, this positive way thinking was not only ambitious, it was short lived.
Homeschooling is arduous and teaching at home was proving to be an adventure I’d have to white knuckle through June. I was spending more time arguing with my sons over how I wasn’t teaching the way their teachers do than time spent on actual school work. Trips to the store were a huge letdown, as well. I was all excited to go one morning but my arrival brought the reality of bare shelves and rude people shoving to get to items first. I was only able to get a few things and stood number 22 in the checkout line. To top it off, I was suddenly painfully aware of the loneliness I felt when I gave an elderly gentleman a big grin only to realize he had no idea. The mask I was wearing would never show my smile. Then there was exercise. Living in a beach community, there is no shortage of people outside. My normal morning workouts were littered with friendly smiles of people out for runs, walks, or a ride on their beach cruiser. Now, the silence was deafening. I was lonely. I know this doesn’t make sense since I’m quarantined with my husband and two sons, but I did feel lonely. I felt like there was no one to talk to outside of my house and although guilt came along with these feelings, I couldn’t help but wish there was someone else I could interact with.
We’ve been lucky that the church we attend is in the same neighborhood that we live. My kids both went to preschool there, it’s the home of our Messy Church, and it’s both my boys’ absolute favorite parking lot to ride bikes in once the service crowds have dispersed. I was nearing the end of my morning walk, one Friday, when I looked up and something struck me. I was right in front of this church that I knew inside and out, yet, something was different. I always acknowledge the banner that hangs in front of Community United Methodist Church is Huntington Beach as it is changed from week to week to display different Bible verses. This week’s stopped me dead in my tracks. Romans 8:38-39 says, “Remember that nothing can separate us from the love of God.” Wow. In a time where all I felt was separation, I ignored the fact that I hadn’t been alone. Not even once. I was so wrapped up and consumed by the fact that I couldn’t see and make my normal connections with everyday citizens that I missed the fact that I had a direct line to a connection anytime I wanted. It was just the reminder I needed to refocus and look at our situation with fresh eyes.
That verse did its job, and some anxiety was relieved. I’m still a little anxious about what’s to come but, I’m definitely more aware. God got my attention, once again, with His incredibly comforting words. Although we are separated from each other right now, we will never be separated from God. With the confidence of His words backing me, I’ve noticed things are starting to fall a little more into place. Zoom has made it possible for our incredible teachers to do distance learning and both my kids are reacting favorably to their new school schedules. When we go out on walks or bike rides, there are others out, now, as well. They may be wearing masks or cross the streets to keep a safe distance, but they’re there. Our Messy Church held their very first meeting through Zoom. It was great to see faces of the “Messy” families that attend our church and to be able to catch up (it may be our new normal for the next few months). Last but not least, the cooking. Grocery stores have started to have more stock and my cooking has gone back to normal. It takes a little more planning on my part so that I only go once a week, but things are looking up. As I left the store the other day, I acknowledged a fellow shopper whose eyebrows lifted, cheekbones raised, and eyes sparkled. I knew it instantly…there was a smile for me underneath that mask.