It's happening. The world is finally creaking open the door and taking a nerve wracking step back into society. However, like our old work clothes, stepping back into the “old normal” may not fit on our post quarantine selves. Questions on how to navigate this shift may seem overwhelming for some, or a massive exhale for others. Though there is no, one-size-fits-all approach to our introduction into a post-lockdown world, we can be comforted in leaning into the transition. ANN InDepth’s host Jennifer Stymiest is joined by Dr. Peter Landless and Dr. Torben Bergland, the Director and Associate Director of the Health Ministries Department for the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
As comfortable as we’ve become with setting our own hours and building our routines, only around the next Zoom meeting, there is a risk of us becoming a little too comfortable. Like a muscle that has begun to lose definition with lack of use, our ability to return to the workplace may be painful. We have lost the distinction of work and home. The intermingling of these spheres may have meant a loss of structure. In the discussion of how the General Conference is safely reopening the building, post quarantine, Landless adds the benefits of returning to in person workspaces, saying “I think that coming back to the building is a very good thing. Working from home has been very pleasant, but it's taken away the demarcation between work, home, play, relaxation. It's liberating to have that routine.” Allowing that reintroduction into work spaces renews the proper boundaries of our lives.
The return to work spaces also means a return to community. After a year without social interaction with our communities we are now reintegrating our social circles back into our lives.In our transition back into the populous, what are the social markers for which we must look? As a starving person finding a feast, it can be easy to gorge ourselves on social interaction, filling our formerly barren planners with plans for hangouts. However, for some, the shift from famine to feast may be tricky. After a year of little to no connection, there is the desire for making up for lost time, attempting to accommodate multiple social interactions; however, this can lead to burnout. Our social batteries may run out quicker than before, out of practice with the rush of hangouts and meetups. For those who have been craving it the most, the complication may not be a dwindling social battery but a limit of time. Without proper management, our social time could outrun our work time or spiritual time. Bergland states “I think what can be an important thing is to be intentional about how we interact.”
Landless also elaborates on the factors surrounding our social resurrection. “I think we need to realize that freedom comes with responsibility and when one is free and you have freedom you need to exercise accountable responsibility as we do that.” When reconnecting to a disconnected world, there has to be intentionality in our choices. Especially when it comes to our children. The lockdown has hit especially hard for young kids, who’s entire lives have been altered to accommodate online school, time away from friends, and new rules for social engagement, all during their developmental phase of life. Unfortunately, children are carriers, meaning they are most likely to spread the disease across their spheres. Landless clarifies “It's hard, it's really hard, children have lost 18 months of their lives of community, of playing together, of being with each other and this is a huge challenge.” For adults, there is an understanding of “normal” to return to, yet in formative stages of life, young children are learning how to cope with potential loss, relational shift, and uncertainty, on top of the normal conflicts usually found while growing up.
Fortunately, nothing is wasted in God’s economy. This time of readjustment is an opportunity for parents and non-parents to be an example of Christ. We are flawed, yes, we are learning, yes, but overall, God is faithful. This is an opportunity to live the kind of flawed but faithful dedication to God’s promises that will help ease the transition for young observers. The same reassurances given to children, can also be given to ourselves. Vocalizing the reminder that we are safe because God is good, gives us consistency in an ever shifting society.