Turning down the volume of the world to listen to the whispers of God…
When my country went into a partial lockdown to contain the pandemic in mid-March, I entered into a season a rest.
I was in the state of near exhaustion at the time after I mercilessly drove myself hard into my new job with the expectation of bringing about changes within a short period of time, and without a proper cooling off period after moving back home and leaving a job that was draining me mentally towards the end. The reduced hours and less work days when my workplace was closed for business with the enforcement of the Movement Control Order allowed me the rest I desperately needed. When everyone was cooking up a storm, improved on or excelled in their cooking/baking skills and/or learning new things when being home-quarantined, I simply rested, more mentally than physically.
During the initial period, I lived in almost complete silence with no TV or music. I filtered the overwhelming text messages and kept all distractions to the minimum. I took things and paced myself slowly. When I regained strength, I decluttered. It was a necessary step I realised because when I was clearing the clutters and putting my long-neglected home in place after an absence of 2 years, I was putting my life back in order too. It was therapeutic, and healing.
The noises outside and movements were minimised which many found strange and eerie initially but became accustomed to gradually. I personally liked the consequential peace. I recuperated in solitude, took the time to settle in my own home again and my stress-induced high blood pressure slowly returned to an acceptable level.
Being single I believe I was less burdened with the meal preparations and keeping the whole family entertained especially with young children. I thought I would write more when the world around us came to almost a standstill but surprisingly, I was not inspired to write and it made me wonder if my amateur blogging was coming to an end.
These few months of living life differently has changed many of our perspectives and priorities in life, and it took some getting used to. I for one had to adjust to the change of season and needed to be convinced that it was ok, and more than ok to just rest when my mind and body demanded so. I also had to stop beating myself up thinking I was anything less when all the people around me had accomplished so much by using the time they had on their hand effectively while I did nothing constructive, and moved around on most days like a sloth.
I went through a prolonged season of pruning by God in the last few years and with the last 2 being the most severe, literally hard pruning. It was a season of faith-deepening and relationship-strengthening. In this season of rest, God allowed me the time off. When time seemed to slow down, I learned to catch my breath, and exhale.
Two months later I was re-energised. I picked up my craft projects again. I called them my “rainy day projects”. They keep me occupied and grounded during my few days per month of unpaid leave of absence from work. I have also gone back to learning and improving on my Chinese, a language that I love but a passion long since neglected. With my confidence in speaking in Mandarin returned, I no longer behave like Jonah when it comes to serving at my church as one of the Chinese interpreters. I do not run away from what I am called to do anymore but embrace the privilege to serve.
It has been almost five months since our borders were first closed and I began a new part of my journey with a changed scenery. Doors have started to open again though cautiously and the whole country is still on high alert as the fight is not over yet. My workplace is still not in full operation but I have learnt to deal with living in the new norm and take life one step at a time.
It will be a long time before our lives are back to as normal as it can be. As for now, I can only continue to count my blessings, and trust the One who tells me to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9)