Life Under Lockdown: Challenges and Blessings of Isolation

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 normal times

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!

How has lockdown changed my life?

1. 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.

A prudent man forsees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them.

Proverbs 22:3 LTB

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. 😦

2. But mostly it’s taught me to 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, but for we who know Christ, it can become a hidden blessing.

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.

I will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you.

Hebrews 13:5 WEB

IMAGES: Man by Pexels. | Plant by StartupStockPhotos. | Others are my own.

Published by Signora Sheila

Missionary blogger, wife, mom, nonna. Join my simple life journey of faith and missions in small town Italy!

21 thoughts on “Life Under Lockdown: Challenges and Blessings of Isolation

    1. Thanks Karen, we really appreciate it. We seem to have reached a peak and new contagions are diminishing. But the gov’t is passing more severe restrictions, which we don’t understand. But our peace is in God, knowing that he has all things in control. We are praying, too, that the situation doesn’t get real bad in other parts of the world.

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  1. Sheila, I am glad that you are stocked up well and doing well. I, too, miss the fellowship at church – Bible study and worship services. Working on setting up a Bible study via Webex for wives. Thank you for writing about what it is like in Italy. God is so good. What a privilege we have to be able to have fellowship with Christians across the world and encourage each other. This is the true church. I’m praying for you and Mario. May you rest in God’s peace, security, and blessings. Karen

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    1. Thank you so much, Karen, for your prayers and well wishes. Know that ours are coming your way too. I see that things keep getting worse in the states as well. Thankfully our lives are in God’s hands. He knows best, and our hearts are at peace. Pray you stay safe and that you will see God’s hand in your lives in these days. Take care.

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  2. So glad, Sheila, that you and your husband are doing well! We too are isolating ourselves from others, due to my husband’s auto-immune deficiency. I am so thankful that, in spite of being alone, we can communicate with others (even around the world in Italy!) in many ways these days, to share our thoughts, hearts, and feelings, just like you said. I’m thankful our church offered a live-streamed service on Sunday and will continue to do so for at least several weeks. Such a blessing to see familiar faces and experience corporate worship–even if on a screen. Also enjoying Skype visits with our son and his family. They only live ten minutes away, but we haven’t seen them since a week ago Sunday. I’m also thankful we can prove Philippians 4:13, to do all things through Christ who gives us strength. In reality, this should not be that great a challenge–just an adjustment. (We’re so used to coming and going on a whim!) P.S. I had to smile when I read your last bullet point. Putting our roots down deep into God’s love (Ephesians 3:17) is the theme for my post tomorrow!

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    1. You’re so right, Nancy. This is one of the good things about technology! It is wonderful to be able to still have contact – it really helps to reduce the isolation. And contact with people around the world!! I’m looking forward to reading your upcoming post, sure it will be the blessing your posts always are!! These times are a golden opportunity for seeking him and sending our roots down deeper!!

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing!!! I didn’t know when your post would come out and this one relates to the one I published today, too! He is with us, always!!!

    I relate as I am a stay at home wife. The quiet moments have been spending time with the Lord, it’s such an opportunity.

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    1. You’re so right TR, even if I didn’t quite grasp that right away. Every so often I’m prone to a sort of adult temper tantrum. 😦 But God has a way of sometimes giving me a gentle slap on the side of the head and bringing me back around. The solitude has proved to be one of my life’s greatest blessings! God is so good!! Can’t wait to read your post… going to now!

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  4. Thanks Sheila for sharing. I’m praying for you. We’re in semi lockdown now (partly self imposed). But apart from this acute time we’re going through, it was helpful to read how it was for you in your early years in Italy. As we may well emigrate in the next 5 years to be near family and for our daughter to learn her mother tongue, it’s helpful for me to be under no illusions after a number of lovely visits!

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    1. So happy it helped, Robert! Visits are often deceiving. Things are usually wonderful on holiday. And even if they’re not, we think it’s only for a few days or weeks, so I’ll survive. Knowing you’re there for good changes everything. But God use such times to deepen our relationship with him. And that is worth whatever it costs!

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  5. Profound and honest words, my friend. The isolation is a challenge, especially when everything here needs to be done remotely to protect others. But I love what it’s doing for all of us. We may complain about the inconvenience, but the Lord is allowing us to care for each other as we often don’t choose to do on most days. Thanks for your insights!

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    1. Thank you Dayle for your encouragement! Yes the Lord often uses trials and difficulties to get our attention, and in his own special way to bring good from them! Hope you’re keeping safe!!

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