It’s weird to know that we’re living in one of those moments that will be permanently etched into the pages of the history books, isn’t it? Even more, it’s weird that this event has escalated to the point that it won’t be relegated strictly to the history books. No, COVID-19 will find its way into virtually every other textbook as well: science and biology and finance and management and IT and economics and supply chain management and political science and psychology and journalism and education and nursing. It’s our kids’ “Back in my day…” story. It’s our “Remember when…”
I can’t imagine a profession that isn’t experiencing some level of disruption. To say that my day job has been stressful this month would be a horrendous understatement. I’m sure that many of you could say the same about yours.
In an effort to lower my stress level a bit, I’ve been jogging more than usual these past few weeks. (Side note: I recently joined Strava. Click here if you’re also on Strava and would like to join me over there.)
Perhaps it’s the break from the news. Perhaps it’s the endorphins. Perhaps it’s the prayer time. It’s probably a bit of each. Regardless, I end every jog with more hope than when I started. Here are a few reasons why. If you’re having a particularly dreary day, I hope my random thoughts will encourage you as well.
I’ve been jogging around the same neighborhoods for years, and I’ve never seen so many signs of life. Yards are littered with sports junk, lawn chairs, and kids’ toys. Sidewalks are artfully chalked up. Teddy bears are in windows. Families are walking or riding bikes together. Moms and dads are practicing their golf swings with their kids. Dads are putting out Christmas lights with big ol’ “for such a time as this” grins on their faces. For many of us, I’m betting this has been the most family time we’ve had in years.
I’m reading a book right now by Ryan Hall called Run the Mile You’re In. Ryan notes that “greatness comes forth from community.” I believe that. And, the front lawns of the neighborhoods I jog through tell me this: for these past few weeks, much of America has been working on their most important communities: their families. Greatness will come from that. In fact, it already is. Kids are using their savings money to help out (https://fox6now.com/2020/03/22/they-need-to-eat-too-7-year-old-used-600-in-savings-to-make-covid-19-care-packages-for-seniors/). Families are finding socially-distanced ways to help their neighbors. From sewing masks for medical workers (https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/24/us/sewing-groups-masks-coronavirus-wellness-trnd/index.html) to singing together (https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/20/europe/italian-radio-national-anthem-intl-scli/index.html) to planning and joining in neighborhood parades (https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/georgia-community-puts-together-a-drive-by-birthday-parade-for-4-year-old-girl & https://fox6now.com/2020/03/22/social-distancing-dinosaur-parade-in-bay-view-sunday-afternoon/), great things are happening in the midst of the storm. That encourages me.
One of my jogging routes takes me past Bonham Middle School. It’s surreal to see it devoid of activity. That big, empty school made me think. If ever there were a time in history for teachers to stare down the world and give it a big, stern “I told you so!” about how hard it can be to teach kids and how their pay doesn’t reflect the time and effort put into their profession, this is it. This is that time. But, teachers aren’t doing that. They’re out there adapting, changing, and coming alongside kids and parents as best they can to do what they do best—prepare kids for life. They’re Zoom-meeting, Face-timing, Google-Hangout-ing, emailing, neighborhood parading, and powering through technological glitches to serve kids in new, innovative, and creative ways. Over the last few years, I’ve heard many individuals who work in the world of education lament the current state of affairs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard phrases like, “This isn’t working,” and “Something has to change,” in relation to the educational system as a whole.
Well, it just changed. Everything changed. And, to me, here’s the best part: our system of education isn’t being changed by national government or even state boards. No, those bureaucracies weren’t built to move this fast. The system is being adapted and remade on the fly by the people best positioned to serve our nation’s kids—the teachers themselves and the local districts that support them. My bet is that we’ll emerge from this chaos with a better educational system as a whole after it implements the 2020 innovations of its teachers. No “Vision 2020” plan could have accomplished so much. That encourages me.
As I jogged past empty parking lots, one thought crossed my mind: the church has left the building. This may sound harsh, but I would argue that some churches have been unintentional hoarders of hope and resources. Now though, in a matter of weeks, churches are being forced to figure out how to broadcast their messages in new ways outside of their walls. Their messages are literally going out into all the world every week. Churches are figuring out how to be the “hands and feet of Jesus”, as they say, to an online generation. They’re creating and donating loads of virtual content and resources. But, they’re donating food, physical resources, and space, too. Shout-out to Trinity Fellowship Church who is offering free childcare for healthcare workers and first responders. I love that. That encourages me.
I’m not trying to trivialize the reality of what we’re facing here. COVID-19 is scary. We’ve all realized just how fleeting a sense of security can be. And, maybe we’ve realized that we, intentionally or not, placed more hope than we should have in things that are temporal rather than eternal. Guilty.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8
And, don’t get me wrong, I’ll probably be back to stress-chewing the insides of my cheeks and lamenting the state of the world tomorrow…or in thirty minutes. But, for now, I choose to think about things that encourage me. I hope you will, too.
A few “good news” articles worth reading
Nobel laureate predicts quicker coronavirus recovery: https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-03-22/coronavirus-outbreak-nobel-laureate
Joann Stores giving out free fabric to anyone sewing masks at home: https://www.wxyz.com/news/jo-ann-fabrics-giving-customers-free-materials-to-make-face-masks
Quarantined seniors play real life Hungry Hungry Hippos: https://www.kxan.com/news/seniors-play-real-life-hungry-hungry-hippos-during-quarantine/
A roundup of positive updates: https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/another-roundup-of-positive-updates-on-covid-outbreaks/
Living in Plague Times (a great post by Philip Yancey): https://philipyancey.com/living-in-plague-times