With the announcement that New Zealand was at Level 3 alert for covid-19, then going into Level 4 lockdown in 48 hours not too many weeks ago, all that was normal was thrown topsy-turvy. Many weeks into it now, we have our own new normal.
Work became work from home. School became learning from home. Church became online services. Restaurants and cafes are only for takeaways. All gatherings are banned. No sports events or entertainment events were allowed.
Social distancing was enforced when meeting anyone out of our bubble.Unless it wasessential, we shouldn’t be meeting anyone unnecessarily. Birthdays, weddings, hangouts all became online video calls.
What was normal before was no longer relevant now. Everything changed in a blink of an eye.
Back to normal
Now that we’vemoveddown to Level 2 alert, many let out sighs of relief that everything is finally going back to normal. However what exactly are we going back to?
While it’s true that for many who have been working from home or learning from home, back to normal would mean going back to work at our workplace and going back to learning in our school, nonetheless there’s a tingly voice repeatedly questioning - is that actually what’s normal?
After all that we have experienced, are we merely just waiting to go back to what it was like before? After all ‘normal’ basically means what everyone is doing and have accepted as the usual. What was normal before this, may or may not be that normal anymore, or at least not everything will.
While the lockdown has passed and we do not need to stick to just our bubble, there are numerous things that have changed.
Covid-19 for one isn’t going to suddenly vanish into thin air. It is here among us but we now know much more about it and our awareness helps us to keep ourselves as safe as possible from it.
Other things that have changed includes all the innovation during this time. People of various walk have made changes to their usual norms. The way we stay in contact with others have changed. The way we view our day has changed. The way we conduct events have changed.
Some like me have learnt a new IT skill during the lockdown. I learnt how to record myself while screen sharing simultaneously.Some have become master chefs in the kitchen. Although I’m not that talented, Imanaged to explore how to bake some yummy egg tarts during this time too.
We hadvirtual game hangouts, online lifegroup sessions and church services as well as virtual check-in sessions with my students individually and with a group. People came up with various ways to keep connected during this timesupporting one another who weren’t in our bubble virtually though physically absent.
For everyone, be it those of us who suddenly had to work or study from home, or for all the essential workers who were still at work so some sort of normality continues, we’ve all been exposed to something new. New experiences such as these though in the form of a crisis, changes us in one way or another.
It may be in the form of how we physically meet up as social distancing is still practised for health and safety purposes. It may be in the form of our emotions as we become more sensitive to others around us who might be lonely throughout this period of time.
It might be mentally as we become stronger in this time of isolation as we disciplineourselves while in isolation. It may be spiritually as we took the opportunity to seek God in the time available or in desperation for an answer during this pandemic.
Whether it be a lovely time for some of us to spend time at home with family or for those who have experienced a least desirable nerve-racking heartbreaking moment, life will not just go back to normal for anyone. A new normal awaits us.
God reminds us in Isaiah chapter 43, verses 18 to 19,not to look to past glories or failures for comfort but to look forward with great expectations.
“So don’t remember what happened in earlier times. Don’t think about what happened a long time ago, because I am doing something new! Now you will grow like a new plant. Surely you know this is true. I will even make a road in the desert, and rivers will flow through that dry land.”
We need nottry to make everything go back to the way it was before. We need notfret about it not being the same as what we’re used to. We can embrace and go forward with boldness and confidence that the new that awaits us is going to be better.
What this new normal is going to be like, I’m still not entirely sure either. One thing I do know for certain is that if God, the creator of heaven and earth, the almighty Father who loves and cares for us, is for us, nothing can be against us – not Covid-19, not this lockdown, not the isolation, not anything ever.
Esther Koh is a primary school teacher living in Wellington with her husband and two sons. She loves people and has a passion for helping others find their purpose for living.
Esther Koh’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/esther-koh.html