It has been exactly a year since Circuit Breaker measures were put in place in Singapore. Never before in our history as a nation has there been a lockdown as such. I doubt any of us had experienced anything like this before either.
For two months, most of us had to stay home except for essential activities and exercise. This wasn’t just happening here in Singapore but most of the world was experiencing something similar in different degrees.
With the lockdown, came new norms. We had to work from home, cook meals more often, and our kids had to get used to home-based learning. Masks became a common thing. Churches had to be shut. The country literally came to a standstill.
A year on, things have reopened substantially, but there are still many things that have not been normalised. We’re now able to see a little light at the end of the tunnel. One thing is for certain – we’re looking forward to the day when we’re able to leave our homes without masks.
As we begin to see the possibilities of life reverting to pre-Covid days, it’s also important for us to take stock of the last 12 months, because that was a time unlike anything we’ve had before. Our routines were turned upside down, and we’ve all had to pivot in some way or another.
The Bible has an interesting passage that goes like this– ‘At that time, the Lord will shake the heavens and the earth. For whatever can be shaken will be shaken, but those things that are permanent shall not be shaken.’ Hebrews 12:27
Now is a great time to consider what has changed after such an incredible shaking; to consider what remains and what has been dismantled in our lives. Here are a few pointers to help us in this process.
1. What have we learnt about ourselves?
Taking stock of the lessons from a crisis is obvious. What I want for us to consider though is a more specific look at ourselves. What has the pandemic showed us about ourselves? Did we lose our discipline because we no longer have the framework of work hours and work structure as we worked from home?
Were we able to pivot and take advantage of opportunities despite the restrictions that were put in place? Did we remain optimistic or did we become complainers? Were we able to see the opportunities?
There’s nothing that reveals quite like a crisis. What’s most important is learning something about ourselves and then determining where additional work is needed. If our productivity dropped because we didn’t have external structures in our lives, then it’s important for us develop the discipline needed for independent work.
If we succumbed to the adversity of the situation, then greater resilience is required. Gaps are bound to show up, and when they do, it isn’t a bad thing. What’s bad is when we don’t do anything about those gaps that appear.
2. What has come to the forefront?
It’s also important for us to consider what worked for us during the period of crisis. For many of us, we were locked in with our families more than ever during this time. If this doesn’t show you the importance of building and valuing your loved ones, we might have missed one of the biggest lessons from this pandemic.
We discovered the need for genuine relationship and community that had to survive beyond the ‘hi’s and bye’s’, when physical meetups were no longer possible. Somehow, when we’re forced into a corner or when something is stripped away from us, things of true value begin to become more apparent.
At least in my family, almost all of us learnt to cook a meal for the whole family (I’m talking not just about cooking instant noodles here), and we had to function as a team a whole lot more during the two months of lockdown.
3. Are we ready for what’s ahead?
I believe the pandemic also showed us a little glimpse of what lies ahead. Some things will never revert to pre-Covid days. Food delivery, online shopping, and remote meetings are just some of the obvious ones. Will there be Christians who may make online services their default weekend practice even after things fully reopen? I’m certain that there will be.
The problem here is our natural affinity for the past. There’s always a tendency to stick to what has been done in the past and to validate them without realising that many of the younger generation are not going back that way. They carry no nostalgia to the ‘old days’ because they haven’t had the opportunity to formulate them.
What they’re experiencing now is what’s forming their sense of routine and lifestyle. It’s easy for us to insist on going back to the past, but in the end, what it does is it that it’ll eventually make us irrelevant.
Instead, what’s more important is for us to look to the future. It’s to know that there are somethings that have changed once and for all, and the ‘good ol’ days’ are never coming back. Our aims and methodology must embrace the reality.
That’s the funny thing about crises. The values that are eternal get reinforced – values of family, love, relationships, discipline and others. But the methodology and those things that are not lasting go through an upheaval.
I believe that the last year of pandemic slowed all of us down and brought many things to a standstill. But the gun is about to go off at the starting line, and a new wave of activity is about to begin. Before we all start running again, I pray we’ll do a serious stocktake, because when the race restarts, it’ll reveal the results of our ‘captivity’ in the last 12 months.