Pressing Pause vs. Business as Usual
We are in the middle of unprecedented times.
And maybe the use of the word middle is a bit premature. As the world reacts to COVID-19, we really don’t know the kind of timeline we’re facing. In a few weeks, this all might be in our rear-view mirror. Or we may be staring down the beginning of what is – for now – the new normal.
Like many, I’ve run the gamut of responses. From we’re blowing this way out of proportion to maybe I should dust off my Left Behind collection, each new hour brings more news that sparks a little hope or stokes a little fear. I’m more than concerned for friends whose livelihood will be directly affected by businesses scaling back. I begin to play the “guess what our world will look like six months from now” game (pro tip: don’t do that). I can let my mind wander to an unknown future and forget that we serve a sovereign God.
In the last two weeks, our team has developed more backup plans, contingency plans for our backup plans, and emergency plans for our contingency plans for our backup plans than I would have thought possible. We’ve postponed long-standing events, shuttered public gatherings and moved worship services online, and put our entire staff on an indefinite “work from home” plan.
So for a guy who likes a routine schedule and has grand illusions of an “ideal week,” this has served as a great reminder that routines and ideals are fleeting. Personally, I’ve been tempted to view life through one of two lenses:
Under this lens, everything gets put on hold. That long-standing event? No need to reschedule until all this plays out. The ongoing project? Forget about moving forward right now, because there are too many unanswered questions. Pressing pause can almost feel responsible, because we’re living life “out of an abundance of caution,” six words that I hope to never read, hear, or use again.
Business as usual.
The schedule-driven, task-oriented control freak in me desperately wants this lens to rule. Press through. Soldier on. Stick to the calendar, move in-person meetings online, develop a minute-by-minute schedule for my family so that we don’t die from overeating our quarantine food, and recognize that when the current crisis passes, we won’t have lost any time. Business as usual definitely feels responsible, because I’m not letting the media or fear drive my daily decisions.
However, I think there’s a third way. One that doesn’t bring everything to a screeching halt, and one that doesn’t pretend that life is normal right now:
We may not be in a global shutdown, but we’re definitely in a global slowdown. And so life necessarily has to adjust. For me, maintaining normalcy means that I wake up at my typical time and I get a shower and put on pants and have my quiet time and I’m at my desk when I normally would be. But adjusting means that my desk is in our bedroom and my work day looks way different than normal.
Adjust means that I continue to plan for future events and work on current projects as if everything will go according to schedule, but knowing that it may not.
Adjust means that my prayer life has taken on a more urgent tone, and I’m looking for specific ways to serve my neighbors during this time.
Adjust means that while I might not be seeing my team face-to-face, I can and should be checking in on them to make sure that they – and their families – are weathering this time well.
Adjust means that I can write about and tweet about topics that have nothing to do with coronavirus (you’re welcome) and I don’t have to lose my sense of humor, but I need to be sensitive to moments when levity can feel ill-timed.
And as I adjust, I trust. I trust that God is sovereign and that he cares about this global pandemic far more than we ever could. I trust that he will use this for good and for ministry opportunities far beyond what we could imagine. I trust that he’s going to lead us into the right things and the right time. And I trust that if this all gets worse before it gets better, he’s not going to ditch us and run. He won’t leave us. He will not forsake us.
Which lens are you choosing to use today?