Italy’s streets and piazzas are usually full of people, even in the evenings. But with the lockdown all that has changed. A ghostly calm and quiet has settled on the strangely unpeopled streets and towns.
Except for the car driving daily through town announcing we all need to stay home and go out only for necessities. That adds the final eerie touch, making it seem more as if we’re in a time of war. And causing us to wonder if it’s all just a bad dream.
In the midst of this, I’d been thinking of writing what it’s been like. Then my friend TR Noble from Inside Cup asked me to do just such a follow up to my Life Under Lockdown post for just that reason.
It has made life harder. We can’t do a lot of our normal things – even go out for a walk. It takes Hubby an hour’s wait just to get into the supermarket. And he’s off work without pay for who knows how long. I also need to get my eyeglasses fixed, but there’s no place like that here, and we can’t leave town until I get my eyeglass prescription mid April. So I’m still going around half blind after cataract surgery.
It’s all strange and somewhat unnerving. But what I’ve found most challenging of all is not being able to go to church. Our church is doing Bible studies via streaming, but it’s just not the same.
Yet, I have felt strongly that it’s important to not use this time focusing on all the negatives. It’s so easy to do, but it opens a door for fear, doubt, anxiety, and even depression to creep in. Even in times such as these – or perhaps especially in such times – we need to keep counting our blessings!
What lessons is lockdown reinforcing, and how is it changing my life?
The importance of seeking God
It’s teaching me to seek God’s wisdom, guidance, and provision.
I’m grateful that when they locked things down in northern Italy we felt impressed to do a couple of big shoppings at the discount supermarket in our nearby city. We are still well stocked, and really only need to go out for fresh things. And in any case, we know God will faithfuly provide. He’s promised.
At the time, stocking up felt almost foolish. Perhaps we were over-reacting. But our few small supermarkets here are pricey so we figured at least we’d save money. And if nothing came of it all we wouldn’t have to shop for awhile. Let me add that we did this well before things started happening in our area.
We didn’t panic buy more than we could reasonably use, and the shelves were still packed full. We didn’t leave anyone deprived!
It helps, too, that here we have our own bread man. About 10AM each day, he stops out on the road, blowing his horn, and we can all go out and buy nice fresh bread, usually still hot!
Of course, in these days, we’re careful to maintain distance. 😦
Cherish God’s fellowship
There’s a lot of talk now on the difficulty and loneliness of social isolation. And it is hard; I know from personal experience. In my early years here, before learning the language, I felt mostly alone, even in a room full of people. Communion takes more just sitting in a room together. It takes being able to share thoughts, hearts, and feelings. And people here have often been suspicious of us, as they often are toward missionaries. I’ve gone through long years with no friends.
But for the most part this lockdown has not changed life a lot for a reserved homebody like me. My husband works most weekday afternoons and evenings. So with no car or driver’s license I already spent a lot of time alone.
But I am grateful for the solitude which has been, in one sense, forced upon me.
Our move to southern Italy has been a blessing to us in many ways. But we left a pastorate of a thriving and closeknit fellowship, where we had (and still have) many dear friends. To be alone. Once again.
And then Hubby started working long days, often out of the house for 10-12 hours. At first, I felt resentful and a bit mad. I wanted him home with me. Until the Lord rebuked me for failing to be grateful for a loving and hard-working man. And for all the possibilities he was opening up here to reach out to others. And that’s when he spoke to me, loud and clear.
I long for fellowship with you, just as you long for it with others.
That marked a turning point in my life, for I realized that I was neglecting a golden opportunity that few people are privileged to have. Tons of time to spend with God and in his word. That was when I started blogging, as a way of recording some of what God was teaching and showing me.
Social isolation is hard
Being socially isolated from others can be hard, but for we who know Christ, it can become a hidden blessing.
And these are just a few of the rich lessons it has been teaching me through the years:
- How much God desires to have us spend time with him.
- To truly value time for prayer, reading, and study.
- To steward our time and not waste it all on frivolous pursuits.
- To stop complaining about what we wish we had.
- To fully appreciate the blessing of fellowship when it comes our way.
- To appreciate the blessings of solitude, silence, and stillness – for they are so important for hearing God’s voice.
- To put my roots down deep in God, learning that only in him do I find true peace and understanding.
We may be alone during this strange time in history. We may feel scared and worried.
But we are not alone, and in Christ we never will be.