We are currently living under difficult circumstances. In the effort to control COVID-19, we are forced to do almost everything from home, where many of us can easily feel like prisoners. With limited time outdoors, interaction with friends only through a screen or telephone, and down or alone time little to nonexistent, it can seem like most if not all our freedom has been taken away.
But this is more of a perception than reality. Yes, distance and isolation are currently necessary to minimize the risk of ourselves or others getting sick, but it is not forbidden to enjoy fresh air and outside exercise, order food from a restaurant, or socialize—it just takes extra care and some different methods to do so. To experience freedom in some forms in this current situation requires some compromising.
In my experience this is not so unlike my relationship with God. Always introverted and rather shy as a child, I was likely more socially distant than most to begin with, although I certainly enjoyed my in-person interactions with close friends. My life has not taken the direction I had envisioned when I was younger, and I have had to make a lot of compromises. Often this involved putting aside things I was passionate about in order to explore new paths, not knowing if success or the same enjoyment lay ahead.
I always thought singing or playing music would be a part of my life, but it fell away completely after my second year of college, when I did not feel called to pursue a career in the music field. I assumed my graduate degree would lead to some kind of public policy or research job, but no interview for such a job was successful. Yet I see now that God closed those doors to me to open new ones, even though I did not know it at the time. He led me to make those compromises in order to bring me out of my shell, to make me more confident and comfortable socially, and most importantly, to encounter Him and establish His presence in my life. Through Him I had a sense of purpose and finally experienced freedom from the negative burdens I had carried through young adulthood. Music came back into my life through choir and worship at church. And while I trust that my master’s degree still fits into His plan for me somehow, I am happy that the job I do have benefits others and allows me to support my wonderful family.
God sometimes seems distant, and although we cannot socialize with Him in an earthly sense, His spirit is always among us. In trying and frustrating times such as these, it can be hard to sense His presence. I definitely feel the restrictions of the whole life from home routine that I am sure many are feeling, and as drained as I feel at the end of a day, I find it very hard to put time and effort into seeking Him. But I find that if I take time completely to myself, it is almost always unrestful and unproductive. Jesus tells us not to worry about the basic details of our lives because God knows what we need, and that advice is all the more important now. He sums it up: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
So, I will ask for myself, and I encourage everyone to consider these questions: Where is God in our lives right now? Where might we be overlooking Him? The answers could well lead us to make use of this time at home in new ways, perhaps stirring up new creative interests or personal projects. And through these pursuits we might experience some new freedom amidst the compromise of our so-called normal lives.