When the Australian Government first announced social-distancing and limiting the number of people allowed in gatherings, my mind couldn’t comprehend what was happening. I refused to believe it was true. My freedom was being restricted. I’ve been confined inside my apartment.
At first, I was in a state of denial. I wanted to think of as many excuses as I could, to go out and see my friends and family. Even if I could find a legitimate reason to go out, something felt wrong. Mentally, I felt a bit ‘off’. The fact is, my freedom was being restricted. I couldn’t go out as I pleased, and every time I went out, there was a risk I would be sent back home – or worse, be slapped a fine on top of that.
On the outside I looked fine. But actually, I wasn’t doing well.I had to adjust to this new lifestyle and I needed to make sure I addressed what was going on mentally and emotionally within me.
We can find freedom even when we’re in confinement.
The power of imagination
It’s amazing what our mind can do. When we’re stuck in a confined space, our anxiety could distract us, making us focus on what’s right in front of us. Our power to imagine and create can take us to places we’ve never dreamed. It also builds resilience, helping us to survive through even the most mundane days or hardship we face.
In the Bible, the author of the Book of Philippians, who had his share of hardship and imprisonment, once said, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (chapter 4, verse 8).
The mind is a powerful gift from God and Paul encourages us to strengthen this gift by feeding it with ‘true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable’ things. Rather than focusing on what we may have lost – temporary or permanent, let’s focus on things beyond ourselves, such as God, nature or various mediums of art.
Step out and expand your world
We are created to give and receive love for the glory of God. In isolation, our world becomes smaller, our immediate problems enhanced. It feels like there’s no escape. We’re stuck in a room physically and emotionally.
To get out of our ‘small’ world, we need to step out and expand it. We need to reach out and connect in to other people so that our world and our capacity to love can grow bigger and deeper. This is not about using as many social media apps as possible. It’s about finding ways to truly connect with others. It requires focused listening and a heart to empathise and respond to people’s journey, wherever they are.
It doesn’t take a lockdown and forced isolation to wake our world up to the prevailing problem of loneliness we have in the West. Even after this is over, many will still experience the pain of loneliness.
Loneliness isn’t a ‘singleness’ thing. Loneliness is the result of an inability to connect deeply with other human beings.
We’re in a crisis. The solution to this crisis is a collective effort to expand our world by venturing into another’s, listening and learning someone else’s story.
A perfect time to start now
What better time than now. This unexpected turn of events in 2020 has presented us with a new challenge: To find freedom in confinement. We can exercise the power of our imaginations as well as find ways to connect deeply with others. By utilising our hearts and minds together, we will soon realise the potential we have even whilst we’re stuck in a small physical space.
Rachel is a pastor, preacher and writer. Based in Sydney, she’s a fan of literature, sport and the arts. Check out her website rachellhli.wordpress.com