A New Normal

Here in Illinois, the coronavirus has me in my eighth week of working from home and we’re all in our seventh week of sheltering-in-place orders. We’re worshipping at home via screens and all the familiar church activities are cancelled. We’re leaving the house only when necessary and we’re grieving with those who have lost jobs, health, loved ones or all three.

As some areas of our country begin to take steps to return to normal, it’s all too obvious that ‘normal’ isn’t going to be the old, familiar normal for quite some time. If ever.

What’s your new normal?

Earlier this year, my husband and I were already in the midst of finding a ‘new normal,’ adjusting to the end of nine years of full-time caregiving and a time of sharing our home with an adult son. Everything was different: meals, chores, schedule, and our home itself. When the virus restrictions arrived, it added a new layer to the task of creating a new normal.

It’s unsettling when ‘normal’ is disrupted or disappears for any reason. But with any disruption or uncertainty, we have choices in how we respond, and those choices bring opportunities. We create the new normal as we choose how we’ll think about and react to the challenges.

For those of us who care about volunteerism in our churches, it’s time to think about the new normal. How will we practice social distancing in our ministries? How will we protect the health our volunteers? How many of our volunteers will come back? What will we do if our many, faithful, older volunteers don’t come back at all due to understandable fear of exposure to the virus?

We need to deal with the issues these questions raise. But if we begin here, we’ll likely stay here. Are there other questions to ask?

Are there opportunities in this crisis? What is God teaching us right now? How can we respond to the grief, loneliness, unemployment and fear caused by this virus? Where are our people serving/volunteering right now, in their homes and communities? How can we support and encourage them? When in-the-church-building volunteering is again allowed, will it discourage in-the-community serving? Do we want it to?

The questions we ask and the solutions we seek will define our new normal for the future. What new normal is God pointing us to?

I’m eager to learn from how others are responding to this time of disruption. If you are, too, email me for info on joining a Zoom mtg on this topic on Thursday, May 21 at 1pm Central daylight time.

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