Amidst the shelter at home quarantine, I received a very interesting question via my Instagram. Even though it’s been months and we’re all in different parts of the country with varying plans for re-opening, many will ponder different aspects of her vulnerable question.
“Jen, I know you are passionate about creating community and biblical hospitality, but what if after this quarantine, I struggle to find my place again? I’m finding I don’t like small talk and I don’t miss ‘lunch with the girls.’ I love my family and realize that being with my kids is my passion. I don’t really have interests outside of them, but that’s not really fair to them is it? How do I step back into the social/friend stuff when I don’t even want to?”
I wrestled through my response to her because I’ve been struggling too. The longer we are living distant lives, the potential for complacency becomes greater. The quarantine has already been going on for months so statistically, we’re forming new habits. Habits filled with distance. Habits designed to measure personal safety and comfort. Habits that systematically make us question how our day’s actions will impact our health, ourselves, and our families. It’s just a fact.
So when one of the most important aspects of my personal ministry’s foundation encourages women to step forward in absolute freedom to love on others by gathering and “just opening the door,” my heart grieves amidst this “must shut the door” lifestyle. Understanding there’s never been a more important time to ward off the loneliness and isolation that play havoc in a woman’s soul, please know that I have been on my knees in prayer for you — all of you.
Community is of critical importance, especially in these times. We are created for it, and so I’ve spent time brainstorming and petitioning the Lord for wisdom as to what that will look like in the future. I know we can’t stop gathering. We can’t stop pursuing one another — it’s more important now than ever before.
Yet the ongoing social, emotional, and even spiritual implications in which COVID-19 manifests itself varies dramatically for each family unit whether we are single, married, with kids or without. We need to give grace to ourselves as we figure out our new normal because it will take time. There’s no “one tried and true way” for us to recover from a pandemic, yet the wisdom of Scripture is quite straight forward when it comes to the topics in her question — mentoring and discipleship (for her, parenting) and practicing hospitality.
While there are lists of how-to’s on these topics, we must first understand why we’re commanded to pursue others and then model it. God’s Word provides the answer, and His Word doesn’t change amidst varying social climates.
First, I celebrated this precious mom and the tremendous job she’s doing of teaching His Word to her children. As you know, that is no small feat. To find such joy and to place such a priority on discipling her closest neighbors – her own children – speaks to the critical importance of Deuteronomy 6:7 —
Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
When we talk and then walk out His commandments throughout the day, we bring Him glory. But it can’t stop there. We must talk and walk out our faith for those inside and outside our homes.
Every day I pray, “Bearing the Imago Dei, being made in Your image, Lord, show me unique ways that I can point others to You today.” I remind myself, “Jen, this isn’t about you or your comfort,” and I embrace 1 Thessalonians 2:8 —
Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.
So whether it’s for our neighbors or co-workers or our children, my desire is that they witness a woman whose faith embraces the fullness of God’s unending, overflowing, abundant, and perfect love. I pray they’ll know our lives have been so changed, that we can’t help but tell others about what the Savior has been up to in our lives. For the Schmidt family (and I hope yours too), we can’t help but invite others into our home (or gather at a park) or pursue those who need encouragement. We know the story of His goodness and are compelled to share it. We don’t always get this right. In fact, sometimes we fail miserably, but we continue to step forward asking Him to use our mistakes.
So to the mom who asked me that question, I didn’t give her any tips on how to step back into the social/friend stuff, but instead, I challenged her to understand the why. We welcome and invite others into community because we’re driven by the overarching principle to love God, love His will, and point others to His glory.
I challenged her to ask these same questions as if the quarantine never occurred. Would she struggle with the same issues? Would you? Do you?
As she wrestled through my response, her very real and raw answer spoke to me.
“You gave me a lot to think about. ‘We are commanded to,’ you said. Still soaking that in and really needing to ponder what you said to me.”
As always, my friends, grace on, guilt off. But ponder with me what your new normal will look like, and let’s keep pursuing others, compelled by the love God has for us.
No matter what your new normal will look like, let's keep pursuing others, compelled by the love God has for us. -Jen Schmidt (@beautyandbedlam): Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Birdie Cutair says
Interesting. I know I want to encourage others in their walk with Jesus, and I’ve been praying as to how to do this during this “closed” time. I know I can call people on the phone and then maybe visit with 1 or 2 people, but how do I go about teaching my Bible study group. Zoom is not really an option for me and for those in the group.
It will be different for everyone based on their states and cities, so I don’t have a “how to” list, but sometimes a small group of people together can be the sweetest time because you can go deeper. So if you have a desire to teach a bible study, maybe gather a few women for a back porch morning study or what works for your surroundings.. Let me know how it goes.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
It is so easy to use COVID-19 as an excuse to slip into complacency. I know that I haven’t been as active as I was before all this started happening. I have found an easy way to “throw open the door”. It’s hard to have people inside my home, but my husband and I have worked at having a nice backyard. I’ve invited a couple friends at a time to sit (with acceptable social distancing) on my patio in lawn chairs for a cup of coffee and perhaps a scone (keeping it simple). We’ve also invited a few single friends over for pizza on the weekend – same arrangement. We are finding that our backyard is our new “hospitality room.” Thanks for the reminder that we are commanded by God to model His love and grace to others. Great post!
Beth Williams says
Great idea, Use the back porch/front porch if possible. You are using what God gave you to stay connected to community. Keep up the good work pursuing others like God pursues us.
Oh Bev – I just love hearing that you are continuing to extend that invite. It’s so important and I know that the people who sit with you feel so loved. Thank you for pursuing.
Michele Morin says
Thank you, Jen, for this word of caution. C.S. Lewis (via Screwtape) warns that sin is hardly ever a sharp jolt, but more likely a well worn way, a path “soft underfoot.”
I never want to lose the habit of welcome.
Michelle – yes, that is SUCH a great reminder by one of my favorite writers. I had to shake my path up…it was getting soft.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Dear Jen I was with my we Sister she the youngest of my two sisters last Saturday. Non of my Family are saved. She said one true think that stayed with me. She has 4 beautiful kids 3 boys one girl. Happy married. I pray for their Salvation. I and my Husband are the only one saved in my family. She my we Sister said the Lock down has made her apperate time with her kids. No rushing around to get her kids to after school to this activity or that activity. Before the activities getting homework done tea made. I have no kids that was my choice don’t get me wrong I love them. Giving birth not for me. I was Registered Childminder for 19 years. It before lock down was all rush rush. She and her Husband found themselves shouting at the kids to hurry up eat their tea get on with their homework before going to the activities they had to go too in the evening. Plus one of the kids if stayed over at school had to be picked up. Then She said her or the Husband were going out after that during the week to their things. So picking the kids up after the activities. Then it was near supper time bath time and bed time. She my we Sister said it was all rush rush rush. We found ourselves shouting at the kids rows at either Me and my Husband. Over who do what who pick what kid up from what activities. Now it all more relaxed. We do on line School work in the morning after breakfast. Then we have time to spend with kids enjoy them. We not rushing to get this activity or that activity. Get tea made for a certain time get homework done for a certain time. Not shouting at the kids. I find me Hubby are not rowing. Who doing this pick up or who doing this. It’s more relaxed. I thought to myself life shouldn’t be about cramming all you can into one day. Then the kids suffer and you the parents suffer as rows start. You take it out on the ones you love. Like Husband’s and wife’s and then the kids. Kids say why is Mummy and Daddy always cross and telling us to hurry up. It not fair on kids. Not nice for kids to see Parents rowing. Jesus wouldn’t want it. Jesus want you slow down do less. Say lets do less activities. Let start and spend more Family time together. Maybe this lockdown. Is God way of teaching Parents to do that. No have kids be in so many thing or themselves the Parents be in so many things. That you have to rushing to get there for a certain time. That homework has to be done quickly and tea made quickly and eaten quickly. That Parents are shouting hurry up are you be late for your activities. Then it causes rows in families. Everyone suffer. Lockdown in my eyes a good thing in a way. Thank you for today’s reading. God could have been using in to get us all to slow down. Plus if saved spend more time in his word the Bible and Prayer. Xx
I LOVE your post!!❤️
Oh yes, Dawn!! Satan is in the business of busy-ness and I wholeheartedly agree that this has been a powerful time for many families. Understanding that it’s not a check list of activities that are needed but embracing the simple beauties that come from a life well lived…slowly and simply. And then mix that with inviting others into our lives as well and pointing them to Him and we see the blessings that came from this shelter at home. 🙂
thanks for sharing. xoxox
“Grace on. Guilt off.” I love that! Thank you for lovingly speaking the truth about this. I am challenged to keep seeking the Spirit’s guidance in this, as it’s a struggle for me as well.
You’re so welcome, Melissa. We can continue to seek His guidance together. 🙂
Kimberly Beth Bryant says
I’m in the opposite place but I never have been before, so this strikes me as very interesting. I’m more introverted than extroverted (although I believe I have varying amounts of both) and until a few months ago (before i got divorced) spending endless time with by ex-husband would have seemed like a dream come true and way before that when i was single having something going on that made it okay to stay home and be introverted would have also been fantastic to me (home on the weekend in my pjs with no judgement, bring it on!). The odd turn of events for me is that a few weeks after my divorce, I moved 1,000 miles away with plans of exploring and reuniting with family and old friends and making new friends and maybe even dating again for the first time in forever and then covid came and at first I was happy to be able to have some down time and alone time when i wasn’t at work but now i’m just missing people and human connection SO MUCH!!! i want to go and do like i never have before, of course i won’t until it’s safe but for the first time in my life i can’t wait to be super social!!! so, while there are plenty of negative things about covid, my positive lesson is that i will never again take for granted the opportunity to safely go somewhere and explore and meet people and hang out with old friends and family.
First, Kimberly – I am so sorry to hear that in the midst of so much life transition came the quarantine, but I also love reading about the lessons you’ve learned through this challenging time. I hope many others are exactly like you in not taking for granted the beauty of gathering. I hope your area opens soon so you can get out and DO ALL THE THINGS. 🙂 xoxox
Beth Williams says
“Grace on, guilt off.” Needed that today. Yesterday I was not very grace giving. Thank you for giving such Godly wisdom. It is so easy to get comfortable staying home-especially if you’re an introvert. . At first not having church was alright with me. I could do church at home & visit MIL. Then I started missing my peeps. Wanting to be around & hug on them. We must find ways to stay in contact with others. Even if that means Zoom, Skype, text, email, phone call or snail mail. We were made for community & people interaction. This comes naturally to me. I may not have people over to my house, but I am the glue that holds groups together. Sending God’s love through cards, calls & texts. Wanting all to know I care for them. Now is the time for Christians to show the world God’s ravenous love for them. Do what you can to pursue others compelled by God’s love for us.
Beth – thank you for being that glue for so many. We need to replicate your 100 fold because you’re spot on, now is the time to show the world HIs love!!
Thank you for your honesty and encouragement. Hospitality has been on my mind for the last 12 months and I have gone out of my way (with support of my hubby) to have people over for lunches after church (precovid) and especially during this season, to send text messages and call people to touch base with them.
It has just hit me that I am overwhelmed with this calling from God and that others don’t reciprocate and care for me. Even while I sit in tears and emotional – my mind still says “I need to call ….”.
How do I let go of this hurt??
Oh Karen – my heart started beating hard when I read your last question because I have been there and continue to be there at different times. As I speak with so many women, I’ve realized that that people are the inviters or the wait to be invited and most wait to be invited. I wrote about this in my book because I was so hurt that no one reciprocated and I address it in long for throughout a whole chapter but it boils down to I finally said, “Jen, in your pursuing of others even when no one pursues you, you are becoming more like Jesus every time.” It doesn’t always held the loneliness but it puts it back into a biblical framework that keeps pursuing because He never stopped pursuing me.
Keep on keeping on with your heart of invitation. It’s truly a gift.