Finding Joy in Simplicity Amid the Coronavirus Crisis
Kayla Santos - March 31, 2020
In a matter of weeks, students like me have experienced an outrageous shift in their lives because of the coronavirus pandemic. Schools have halted in-person classes, restaurants have retreated to take-out only and many workplaces have encouraged working remotely, if at all.
What do we make of a situation that has resulted in cancellations and postponements of major events like weddings, graduations, vacations and missions trips? Beyond the health concerns, students (and their parents) are grieving the losses or adjustments of milestone, once-in-a-lifetime moments.
No matter what we’re feeling or thinking—whether it’s anger, sadness, anxiousness or all of the above—in the midst of the uncertainty, we can be sure of one thing: God is near.
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and
saves the crushed in spirit,” says Psalm 34:18.
To the bride who was looking forward to walking down the aisle at the wedding she spent months planning, to the high school senior who worked out for months preparing for his last year of varsity sports, to the college senior who could hardly wait to walk across the graduation platform, and to graduates who have been saving every penny to travel overseas—God is near. It is inevitable to feel devastated about these things, but let’s choose to hold fast to the promise of Psalm 34:18.
Though it has only been a short amount of time I’ve experienced the restrictions that come with the pandemic, I’m learning to avoid anguishing in “what should be.” It’s easy to think “I should be getting ready for that vacation I planned” or “I should be soaking up my last few weeks of college with my friends.”
The other day, I talked with a good friend of mine about the pandemic. She said something that took me aback— “This just shows us how entitled we are.”
After hearing countless remarks of outrage and sadness, her comment was the only one that acknowledged privilege. I’m aware that some may experience more grief than others. For some, this season comes with immense heartache—abruptly saying goodbye to friends that live overseas or losing a much-needed job.
But for most of us, we still have everything we need and more—running water, a roof over our head, food we hoarded from Costco, a laptop to do our work remotely, gas in the car—must I go on? Sometimes we forget that God has provided us with everything we need. All the other things we get to experience in life are icing on the cake.
For those whose lives have been stripped down to one of simplicity—one without endless phone calls, meetings and deadlines—perhaps we can learn to rest in this time and enjoy being present with God and others (six feet apart of course). Think about all the times we wished to be home with family or to work on our own time. Now, we might finally have the chance to do that. In our consumeristic, success-driven culture, it’s easy to focus on what we lack instead of what we have. During this time, let’s consider a couple ways to enjoy the simplicities of life.
First, schedule uninterrupted time with God. If we’re working remotely, we might have extra cushion time considering we don’t need to commute for a while. If this is the case, commit that extra time to enjoying God’s presence. This might look like journaling, prayer, Bible reading or simply sitting still and just being with Him.
Second, enjoy the presence of loved ones. Whether we live with family or friends, it’s easy to forget the blessing of relationships when busyness consumes us. Ditch endlessly scrolling through social media and bust out the Monopoly board that’s been catching dust—we’ll be glad we did. Now is also a great time to catch up with one another. For conversations starters, we can also ask our friends and family what God is teaching them through this time.
Third, work on that personal project we said we’d do if we had more time. Naturally, as schedules fill up and we get busier, we have less time to enjoy our hobbies. Perhaps now is finally the time for bookworms to read for pleasure, knitters to finish their scarves and gearheads to work on their cars.
A few Sundays ago, Southlands (Church) Brea pastor Alan Frow said this — “Loss exposes the lesser things we worship.” This interruption of life puts things into perspective and shows us what we truly value. Make no mistake, the losses we’re grieving are real. But, despite everything going on—God is near. Maybe that’s the simplest, yet biggest blessing of all—and one we can never lose! So, amid the constant updates about lockdowns and precautions, may we find joy in the simple, most important things God has blessed us with.
Kayla Santos is the marketing and communications intern for the Center for Marriage and Relationships. She is a senior journalism major who is passionate about healthy relationships and hearing people’s stories. When she’s not behind the computer, you can find her playing volleyball, hanging out at the beach, or cozying up with a book at a coffee shop. She also might try to guess your enneagram type if you spend enough time with her.