Reconnect shattered the shell of my heart this past week.
We all have been disconnected from loved ones, routines, work, church, and community as we used to know it.
We have been living in cocoons, unconnected except for online chats, Facetime, and endless Zoom meetings. I am zoomhausted!
At last, a sunny warm day in northwest Ohio graced our lives and I emerged like a mama bear after a long cold winter of hibernation. I stretched. Put on my favorite walking shoes. And hubby and I ventured along the one-mile trek surrounding our little village.
I love to walk and to finally journey outside felt like Christmas morning. Yet remember my image above – the mama bear – yep I was groggy, sluggish, and bit disoriented. I hungered for movement and focused on each step, stretching stale muscles. Off we went.
Our route took us past Edon’s famous Dairy Treat, a locally owned and loved throughout the region for treats and a quick dinner. They just recently reopened and that plus the great weather brought out the crowds. Cars lined up down the street and filled up the adjacent church parking lot. People waited in lines, yet at proper social distancing, eager for something sweet to celebrate our freedom from our caves of isolation.
As we marched by on our determined mission to get our walking complete, a friend rolled down her window and yelled her hello. Her smile beckoned us closer and she too hungry for interaction waved us closer.
Now comes what I regret.
We countered with a obligatory hello back to her.
We kept walking.
Guilt descended onto my spirit.
I should have stopped.
I could have stayed the required 6 feet away and visited for a while.
Under normal circumstances I would have connected with her for a friendly lifegiving visit.
The should’s, could’s and would’s shamed my spirit.
What was wrong with me?
I have learned on my spiritual walk to pay attention whenever anything – a good feeling or like this, an uncomfortable jarring experience, reverberates in my soul.
I have learned to let go of the emotion of anger, embarrassment and shame and pick up the tool of curiosity.
I wondered why I reacted that way.
Mama bears wake up sluggishly. A butterfly evolves from its cocoon gently. My introverted self, disconnected from the outside world for seven-plus weeks, needed time to connect. I hadn’t realized I required more space for reconnection.
Some people – extroverts? – love to jump right into the pool with a big splash and the glee of reentering the fun.
Others, like me, like to dip our toes in first, sit on the edge dangling our legs, then slowly and deliberately rejoining humanity.
A hard lesson for me to learn. Perhaps you feel this way too. But it is time.
American society is reopening. I think it is ironic many states announced their plans described in phases. I now know I need phases too to connect in community. Here is how this mama bear introvert plans to reconnect safely for her soul:
Gradual – Getting out of this rut will take time and my intention is to connect but at a pace that feels right for my spirit.
Grace – I will give myself grace – don’t feel guilty for feeling like I snubbed my friend at the Dairy treat parking lot. I will fail but I will try again. And I will give grace to others – we are all transitioning from one odd place to a strange new territory – all of us will experience some disorientation with this reconnect. Grace, not guilt.
Gratitude – I am thankful for this lesson and all we can learn even from the difficult and awkward interactions.
Grow – I will learn. I will relearn. I will emerge. I will wake up into the new world. I read the other day this statement – “May we grow back, not to what was but instead towards what we can become.” I like that – let’s BECOME as we connect again.
Grand – it will be grand. We can’t always choose what happens to us. This collective experience and disruptions weren’t something we asked for, desired, and controlled. Yet we can choose our attitude. I chose to look forward to life being grand again. Life is grand right now. I just need to open my eyes to see the goodness, listen to its lessons, and receive in my heart its joy.
Disconnect. Unconnect. Reconnect. A growth edge for all butterflies and mama bears.
Have you considered how you will reenter into the community from this forced disconnection? What will help you to reconnect?
Janet Hitchcock says
I love your 5 G’s. My re-entry will not be too gradual as I am about to be plunged into farmers market once a week and in June twice a week. But I hope to have the grace to back off if it doesn’t feel right – without feeling guilty. (Thank you for that.) As an introvert also, I am grateful for this time away. Time to set those things aside that for some reason often seem more important – or at least more demanding – than quiet time with my Lord. It has been delightful to spend time reading and journaling without dozens of options calling to me. That time in reflection has allowed me to grow deeper in my practice of my faith. And, yes, it has been a grand time, filled with grand planning for what comes next. A grand labyrinth is in the works – a prayer path for this introvert who can’t seem to sit still to use as a prayerwalk with God and offer that opportunity to others. Life will be different when this is over. Let us make it a quite grand different!
Jean Wise says
I love alliteration. Helps me remember my practices and to apply them. Farmers market though is life-giving for you so that may help. I can’t wait to walk your grand labyrinth!
Linda Stoll says
I absolutely love the grace here, Jean. Truth be told, none of us is operating at full speed. Many of us are exhausted in more ways than one.
He understands ..
Jean Wise says
exhausted in more than one way is such truth! Thanks Linda!
Nancy Ruegg says
I’ve hardly ventured out at all since March 14 and have been wondering what it will feel like. I, too would characterize myself as more introvert than extravert. Will six weeks of isolation have altered my ability to interact with others?! Or is social interaction like riding a bike–you never forget how? Will we feel a bit awkward with one another, because of the masks, gloves, and ongoing threat? Or, will our relationships and connections with others be all the stronger because we’ll appreciate each other more? Thank you for your observations and advice, Jean, to take the path forward gradually–with grace and gratitude! Very helpful.
Jean Wise says
I know we will readjust; I was just surprised how it jarred my spirit. I sunk further into that cave than I realized. I hope we are all stronger as we emerged, learn and reconnect. love you, Nancy!
Denise Maryott says
It certainly is so true and yet when we are wearing our masks we continue to smile and express ourselves with facial expressions that cannot be seen with the mask. We practice social distancing and I wonder how long this will be our way of life.
As we venture in this mode I also wonder how this will affect us moving forward. Will we ever again freely embrace and hug each other? Many things to ponder!
Jean Wise says
I love your reminder that we can see the smiles even with masks, so true!
Nancy Booth says
Jean, this is so helpful. I have had this happen to me and couldn’t put my finger on my reaction…. Being aware is the first step. I appreciate your encouragement for grace for ourselves as well. Thank you for a pathway as we emerge from this deep time of disconnection…
Jean Wise says
I am glad I am not the only one. I think acknowledging that transition is a great first step and gives us hope and courage to do this.
Cyndi Raines says
This really is food for thought, THANK you. As an extrovert, I had not thought about others feeling uncomfortable reconnecting. I had given thought about how will we interact at church (when we are allowed to return). Will we still shake hands, give hugs or not? Living in the country has allowed us to take walks and or visit with our neighbors at 6 feet + distances as we work in the yard and they walk their dogs so I haven’t felt as disconnected as some. Things have changed for sure though. Even at the grocery store you see the plastic barrier now between you and the cashier. Our car and truck are completely equipped with hand sanitizer, a box of face masks and disposable gloves. I have wondered will this be a part of our lives forever now ? On the news last night they reported the infestation of monster killer bees that are now in the state of Washington and can have a deadly sting. Talk about PESTILENCE! I am thankful we have a Savior who hears our prayers and understands our concerns. Each day we can pray I Peter 5:7 “Casting all our cares upon Him, for He cares for us.”
Jean Wise says
Great Bible verse to cling to, Cyndi. Thanks. I am working on our local church plan and much will be different since collectively we need to protect our people the best we can. and yes I did see the report about killerbees, what is next? LOL
Lisa notes says
I find myself zoomhausted too. Who knew that would be a thing? Jeff and I have enjoyed taking more walks during this time. The weather has been so good lately here in Alabama. But cold weather is coming back tomorrow. Wish it wouldn’t.
“Mama bears wake up sluggishly.” I understand this exactly, Jean! I wonder what I’ll be like when this is all over. lol. I also wonder, when it’s safe, if our churches will refill with people eager to come, or if people will be out of the habit and not return at all.
Jean Wise says
Isn’t that a creative word? yes too many meetings with too many people, said this introvert. LOL Our church has seen a surge in new people watching our worship on line. The question is will they attend in person or will others now want to stay home and continue to attend on line. will be interesting to watch how this unfolds.
Martha J Orlando says
Jean, this post is so thought-provoking. Yes, how will I reenter “normal?” Like you, an introvert, I may suffer from the Mama Bear syndrome, groggy and wary of getting too close to someone. I don’t like that feeling, but we do have to roll with who we are, and seek God’s help to navigate a brand new world of connection with others. May He give us the grace to do it well.
Jean Wise says
Thanks Martha. I tried to be honest, sharing this experience and my lessons. And yes we do need to know ourselves and be authentic in our transition to this new situration. yes yes grace for all.