I was having a conversation with my friend and senior pastor, Kathi, yesterday and we were reflecting on how things seem so much harder the last couple of days. “What is it,” we wondered, “that makes this seem different than when we first started out on this shelter-in-place journey?” After some discussion, her thought was this—We haven’t built up the muscles for this one, this kind of marathon running. The first two weeks were hard, sure, but we were able to pull it together for that. We know how to sprint, how to deal with a crisis when it comes, regroup and rebuild. The problem is, this one isn’t over. And it’s not going away for quite some time. We are less accustomed, particularly those of us with a certain amount of privilege, to long-term readjustment of everything we know.
It’s going to take a while for us to build up these new marathon running muscles. It’s going to require us to start stretching differently and to think about how to make change things around for a while.
It means that we’re probably not going to be able to make this adjustment and have it all figured out right away. It means that we’ll have to test and adapt and retest as we figure out what it looks like to live in our new reality. Yes, this will end eventually, but it’s going to take a while.
It makes me think of this story in the Bible. It’s in the book of Jeremiah, Chapter 29. God’s people have been sent into exile, away from the land that they know, separated from having a central place to gather to remember the ways of their people. There’s a verse that a lot of people love to quote, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) It’s a really beautiful verse. But it comes right after God tells them (basically)—settle in, get married, build houses, have children. It’s going to be a loooong, loooong time before you’re getting out of here. Settle in, get comfortable, because exile is going to be your new normal.
It might sound depressing, but I think there’s some good wisdom in that. We will get out of this eventually and it’s important that we continue to long for reconnection. AND, in the meantime, we’ve got to build up some new muscles. We’ve got to settle in and get comfortable because this is going to be our new normal for a while.
It’s ok if that takes us a little bit of time. Building up new muscles takes time. You don’t go from running sprints to running a marathon. Let’s just add one mile at a time.