Our family recently moved to another country late last year. It was a move from one of the most developed nations in the world to perhaps one of the least developed in the world. This has made for some interesting discoveries, lessons, and challenges, particularly for our children.
Fast forward and with the lockdowns of COVID-19, our family had to face yet another change that may have been just as dramatic as a move to another country. In some ways, the change moved us inward – and it reminds me that perhaps this is the most important frontier we each need to conquer!
Families around the world are experiencing this same challenge: having the world, local community, and even members of our own family stripped away, their entire context changed, even while we essentially remain in the exact same place.
Despite this and missing our family, friends, school, and the “normal life” there have been a number of unexpected upsides. My eldest daughter seemed to notice this herself and commented that all of the kids were not only complaining less but even though they now had comparatively very few toys they played well – maybe even better than before. The relationships in our home, between siblings, had improved because in the thousands of changes they struggled with, we sought out the familiar: sticky hands and sweet, steady smiles.
We also began to seek out new ways to relate to family and friends. We have daily read-aloud with our grandparents and cousins, send “boredom kits” to friends, send movie, website, app, and delivery service recommendations and share homeschooling tips that we never would have thought we would need to do! We’ve also been happy to connect more closely to the FPA community through the weekly Zoom calls and we’ve sought out more ways to utilize the amazing tools we have available to us today.
While there are the inevitable starts and stops, stumbles, and scratches, my husband and I have begun to realize that this change has opened our eyes to new possibilities in ways that our comfortable old life simply did not. We found in the discomfort of this new “not-normal-normal” life more gratitude for what we had and interest and curiosity in the things we had always taken for granted. Walks, haircuts, parks, schools, restaurants, public transportation… what was once commonplace becomes a source of anxiety but we also develop immense gratitude for those things and the people who make it all possible. Even while we always admired doctors and nurses for their work, this experience magnifies that gratitude for them but also others we never gave much thought to janitors, waiters, cashiers, delivery people and more.
We’re not quite sure how long this will last. But the experience has strengthened our core commitments to God, family and asked us to reevaluate what it means to live as One Family Under God. Living in this time is humbling and instructive if we chose to make it as such. And perhaps along the way it teaches us what it means to truly live as One Family Under God. We’ve learned that we can grow anywhere, anytime, and any place, as long as we’re willing. In our case, COVID seemed to have thrown us into disarray in a way that encouraged growth.
What might you do in your own life towards the same? Even or especially in this unprecedented time, what can you do to make sure that you’re headed in the right direction?