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PERSPECTIVE: Reclaiming a Pandemic Casualty

For most of the people in the world and for over a year, we found ourselves in a very small, secluded, (hopefully) protected bubble. We stayed home or only went out when absolutely necessary. We interacted with others via texts, emails, cellphone calls, Facetime or Zoom meetings but not truly eye-to-eye. We didn't hug. We didn't see the world outside of our limited sphere. We filled our gas tanks far less often. We ordered groceries online and spent far too much money on things we found while browsing Amazon and other merchandise sites. We ate with those inside the four walls of our homes, 3 meals a day, every day. We relied on biased news sources to interpret the day's happenings and make dire predictions. We didn't go inside our church buildings. We didn't travel. We didn't visit in each other's homes.

Sources for a healthier perspective and the balancing scales for life's small and large events evaporated altogether or were very difficult to find. We tended to believe things were much worse than they actually were. We became much more self-focused and absorbed.

Or maybe it was just me.

Fortunately, I have people in my life again. Poor Steve is finally relieved of his responsibility to keep me on an even keel. Bless him.

We had friends over for dinner a few weeks ago. They were the first non-family people who had crossed the threshold into our home since the first week in March, 2020. We couldn't stop talking. We got caught up on each other's lives. We shared about mutual acquaintances. We laughed and learned. Steve and I were able to realize that events we thought had only happened to us had actually happened to others as well. We learned that these friends had issues in their families that were different, but just as challenging, as our issues. Those hours together provided balance for us.

We've started meeting in person again with our Life Group at church. It is SO MUCH better than merely seeing photos of their children and reading snippets of their activities via Facebook. We need the laughter, the facial expressions, and the insights. These people are such encouragers and spirit lifters to us.

Last week my 70-year-old aunt (who lives in Huntsville), my 70-year-old cousin (who lives in North Carolina), and I had a spend-the-night party. Yes, you read that right. Three 70-somethings who have known each other our whole lives wanted to have some uninterrupted hours together. No husbands allowed. We rented an airbnb house near Madison, we each had a bedroom to catch some sleep, we went out for dinner and for breakfast the next morning, and we brought lots of snacks to keep our energy going.

Between us, we have 140 years of marriage experience, 6 children, 2 stepchildren, 8 in-law children, 24 grandchildren, dozens of relatives in common, and 211 years of life experience and Southern Baptist history. We had a LOT to talk about -- frustrations, funny stories, sad stories, worries, questions, challenges, victories, confessions, physical ailments, plans for the future, bragging on our people, etc. etc. etc. These two people are so important to me. They help me figure out where I stand in the grand scheme of our family. They give me reassurance. Most of all, they give me a more realistic perspective about the events that have occurred in my life since the last time we were together, and I fervently hope they feel the same way about their time with me.

I am not as much of an extrovert as I've been in the past, but I DO need people. And I need to spend time with people IN PERSON. I don't want to just see them via a computer screen from the waist up. I want to observe their body language, their reactions, their responses as they talk and as they listen.

Maybe it took a worldwide pandemic for me to realize how much I missed interpersonal relationships when they were impossible, or at least very difficult.

I'm very glad we are coming out from under the heavy cloud that has been hovering over us. I am very glad I can see maskless faces in the stores. I'm happy we're not living in fear of catching a devastating disease. I hope I'll never again take such things for granted.

Happy June, everyone. Let's enjoy all that summer offers and be very grateful that the last 15 months are in our rearview mirrors. Start putting plans with friends on your calendars. You need them, and they need YOU.

Hebrews 10:24-25 -- "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

Proverbs 27:9 -- "Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend

springs from their heartfelt advice."

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 -- "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls

and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

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