“Quarantine, sweet quarantine,” I said while walking in my front door after my last full day of work. As of Wednesday night, I was officially on vacation time—at home. I was supposed to spend ten days in Ireland over spring break, but obviously, that didn’t work out. Not that my cancelled vacation is that important (it really isn’t), but I went from carefully planned and detailed itinerary to absolutely nothing. The major thing on my list was grocery shopping, and since I had been in contact with a couple hundred people that week because of my “essential” retail job, I had those delivered to limit exposure.
Normally, I love doing nothing. Seriously. If I can lounge in my pajamas doing whatever feels or sounds good without needing to worry about the timeframe, I relish it. Ironically, I had already enjoyed plenty of nothing. If you noticed the gap of time between this post and my last, you might still be wondering about my ovaries. Or not. It’s weird to have my ovaries on your mind for six months. But anyway, that’s still being figured out, and from January through the end of February, I took a step back from things I love and value to focus on my own health.
It sucked. Quitting on obligations is not my thing, even with very valid reasoning. I had to do this thing where I admitted I needed help and couldn’t do certain things. I hate it. Not only am I uncomfortable with having to change my plans with another person, but actually ADMITTING I could use help or support?
Outlandish. Offensive. Completely absurd.
As I have sighed about before, the Lord continues to humble me.
But as I asked for less responsibility at work, I considered my priorities. As I dropped the class I was taking, I considered my priorities. As my anxiety became so intense it was difficult to attend church, I considered my priorities. The treatment I was trying was supposed to normalize after three months. I kept thinking to myself, “what can be put on hold for three months?” Until I finally hit the point when showing up to work was the only thing I was doing… and I had to call out because of how miserable I felt.
I cried. And cried out to God. And threw out the medication I had been taking.*
I began to feel better within a couple of days, and my list-making, itinerary-building brain went into overdrive. I had so few commitments left that I had to find new things to channel my efforts into.
Then, we found ourselves in a worldwide pandemic. As God had to forcibly remove the things in my life from my clinging hands, He did not allow for me to immediately jump back to the person I was. So I have found myself considering my priorities all over again.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with the things I was doing or involved with. I love them all. But showing up to play Dungeons and Dragons once every six months or promising an allergy-free cookbook that I was supposed to put out in 2018 shows that maybe I have spread myself a bit thin. As my manager said to me, “I get tired just thinking about all the sh*t you do.” She has a point.
I’ve shed quite a few tears over the things I have given up, even though most of them are temporary. I’ve cried over the goals I half-heartedly pursued all at once. The phrase I kept finding myself repeating was “Nowhere is safe.” So while in quarantine, I’m seeking sanctuary. Not a new safe place, or a cave to hide in until I’m ready to come out. A space that pulls me closer to God and his people.
I’m working on turning my room into a sanctuary and trying to let myself actually feel somewhere is “home”. I’m refocusing myself as I consider how to be a sanctuary for the people I love in my life. As I give space and time to God rather than to my planner, I’m seeking ways to give myself some grace for spent time. Spent time isn’t the worst thing in the world, and in the past six months I have been blessed by the people in my life who have made an effort to check in on me and care for me. However, now I feel God at my elbow, slowing me down and asking me hard questions.
Part of my struggle in writing the past few months has been my refusal to sit with His words and process. I couldn’t find my own words because I was unintentional about sitting with God’s.
I’ll admit I was (and still often am) afraid of the consequences of a holy God in my life.
But this holy God is my refuge and strength (Psalm 46). The same God who led his people into and out of the desert in Exodus. The same God who will not fail in His promises (Psalm 77). We can find sanctuary in this God because holiness is a terrifying but wonderful thing that we will be blessed by. We can manifest sanctuary on this earth because of the relationship we can have with this holy God who sacrificed Himself so we could know Him.
In this time of unknowns, fear, grief, and change, I pray that you find sanctuary in Him. That you can recognize those glimpses of heaven we experience on earth, hold tight to them, and share them. Build sanctuaries over Facetime, in your room, in your home, and in your workplace. As those of us who are Christians come to God with questions, I pray we bring those who don’t know God into the same conversations. We have refuge and we know refuge; shelter each other in the name of the Lord.
*Side note: my doctor told me it was okay to quit at any time but encouraged me to stick it out as long as I could. I made it just over one month but my clinic is closed for the time being, so I am a sitting duck with ovary problems until after things calm down.