Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. -Galatians 6:2
There’s a meme going around, I’m sure you’ve seen it, that frames the extra time granted by the COVID-19 pandemic as some kind of opportunity to be seized.
I mean, if you have extra time and you want to use it to work on home improvement projects, or chew through your media backlog, or start that creative project you’ve been wanting to do, by all means, go for it. But it’s okay if you can’t or don’t want to capitalize on this. It is acceptable, appropriate, and advisable to take some time to rest.
Because a pandemic isn’t a vacation, it’s a crisis. Children are home from school. Parents are working from home, still going in to essential jobs, or are collecting unemployment and watching bills pile up. The usual things that we normally take for granted – a quick trip to the store on the way home, church on Sunday morning, social events, in-person gaming, and even simple things like haircuts are all on hold. Most places are closed. It certainly seems like a time when we could get a bit of extra stuff done, right?
Except a lot of the time we’re collectively spending at home when we would normally be doing other things isn’t relaxation or traditional downtime, it’s waiting. Waiting for news of the latest development. Waiting to see what will get better or worse. Waiting to see our friends and loved ones again. Waiting to get a haircut or browse a game store again. Waiting to sing some hymns or praise songs in person. The downtime comes with a rider of tension.
Even if you’re one of the people who hasn’t had their life completely upended by this, it has still introduced a lot of tension and uncertainty into many of our lives.
I wish I had some profound, unifying observation here, but I don’t. I do, however, have a small piece of advice: listen to your friends.
Over the last six months or so, I’ve come out of denial over my own level of busyness – I have more irons in the fire than I was counting. This was largely brought to my attention by friends, and while it started in the fall, it has continued. I have been encouraged to balance my commitments and do what I need to in order to avoid burnout. And so I have. I’ve taken the Sunday game down to a biweekly schedule, which has allowed one of my players to step in and run a game he’s been wanting to. I think the game sounds cool, but for now, I’ve decided not to participate, prioritizing rest and downtime. It seems to be helping somewhat.
So when things are difficult, listen to those who care about you. Sometimes they can see what you’re dealing with better than you can.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30