2021-a new year with new hopes of a vaccine to help stop Covid from limiting our lives as much as it did in 2020. We’ve put many things in our life on hold again as the 2nd wave of Covid hit in autumn last year. We hoped it wouldn’t be for too much longer as vaccines were slowly starting to roll out worldwide. But with production delays in Europe and let’s face it a whole world to vaccinate it’s going to take longer than we hoped for everyday life to return. The vaccine isn’t an assured cure, but if it limits the number of people dying and having long-lasting side-effects, then I am for it. 

The question is, what do we do in the meantime?

Here are my top 9 things to do to stop Covid stealing any more of my joy, growth and life in 2021.

1. Don’t see the limitations as negatives but obstacles for inspiration and inventiveness. 

Yes, lockdowns and restrictions are limiting in so many ways we’d prefer not to have required of us. But they are opportunities to improvise and innovate on every level. Many inventions were created in response to the inventor’s frustration that there had to be a better way to… Technology, communication, science, families… there are thousands of improvements and inventions happening as a result of this pandemic. The more we can adapt to uncontrollable circumstances, the better we’ll do in not letting them beat us.

2. Can’t see family in person – connect in other ways

I find this tough, I don’t know when I’ll be able to visit home again as my family are in Scotland and I’m in Switzerland – and Scotland is introducing hotel quarantining on Monday with a charge of £1,750 per person. (I can’t afford the cost in time or money), so I have to wait and see what alternative solution comes in time. But what I don’t want to do is wait to deepen my connection with my twin sister. So what do I do? I initiate texts, messages, face-time chats more often. I support her new on-line business by adding comments, joining live events and promoting it to friends. With my elderly father, I need to be more ‘old fashioned’ in my approach as he doesn’t like technology – so I want to start writing letters (which as I’ve put here – I need to now do!). 

3. Frustrated with zoom, so don’t want to use it.

Sometimes I don’t want to video call because it makes me miss the person more. Or I don’t feel as connected with them because I can’t touch them. Personally, I don’t feel close to someone with the words I use but my proximity to them physically. Or what I really want to do is go and do something fun with them, not sit in front of my computer/ iPad again. But I can change my attitude and thinking pattern. Yes, I don’t like it and wouldn’t choose this way if I had other options. Yes, I live in another country, so seeing people face to face isn’t a regular thing I can do anyway. 

I have a choice – stay in an emotional and mental funk. Or be thankful we have the technology to see their face, hear their voice no matter where in the world we are. Take the initiative to make a time to talk and connect. Change the place I have my video calls, so it’s not the same place I’m sitting. Make a cup of tea and have a biscuit so we can ‘pretend’ we’re sitting on the same sofa catching up. No travel time is needed; therefore, I have more time to spend with that person. To connect try face-time, messenger, Skype, watch party on Netflix, try Google Meet or try new apps and visual aids to change something. Write a card/ letter, send a package, pray for them, send them a link to a song or page you think they’ll love. When you think of them, do something to connect, even a few emojis don’t take that long to send. But they can communicate much.

4. Not making plans because you don’t know if you can do them.

I love to plan ahead – whether it’s holidays, training events or fun days out. But it can be hard to put something in the diary only to then have to deal with its disappointment being cancelled. This year I want to go home to visit family and friends – I was hoping for spring but now holding out for sometime in the summer. It’s pencilled in as a hope and prayer. I need to do this because I know if I give up planning altogether, I’ll be a less happy Patience. I am also continuing to brain-storm what kind of training events I could do and say yes to invitations to staff other training sessions and developing content for them. So I have the time blocked out, teaching prep done and plans improved, so I will be ready if they can happen. I’ve also started a list on my phone of things I want to do when we can. These keep me dreaming, building hope and are ready and waiting for when this season of restrictions passes.

5. God is the same awesome God he was in 2019, today and in 2023

God hasn’t changed who he is. In times of uncertainty, we need to remember that God is our rock, our foundation, no matter what – He doesn’t change. We can rely on Him being just as faithful, loving, patient, kind, attentive to the tiny and massive things as He always is. God understands all our struggles, frustrations, joys, grief and unknowns. I choose to praise and thank Him daily for who He is not because of the circumstances around me. He is bigger than this global pandemic. He cries with those who weep and celebrates with our joys. We don’t have the answers to why these pandemics happen or why God’s not healed everyone who’s sick. But we are asked to love Him and remain faithful to what He’s asked us to do – no matter our situation. Things could be better, and they could be so much worse – but no matter what – He is our heavenly Father and loves us beyond our comprehension. I choose to look up, not be dragged down.

6. Realignment check – what else have you stopped doing because you couldn’t do it in the usual way you preferred to do it?

For our BLP students in January, I did a series on realignment. Remembering what we’re committed to and our responsibilities. It’s easy to allow little things to pull of off our goals or delay our commitments. Taking time to stop and remember them, so see where we’ve gone off track and make a conscious choice to raise our standards, make good choices is really helpful. So take time this week to ask yourself – where am I with doing what I said I would do in goals/ commitments/ finances/ developing…?

7. Letting go of disappointment, so it doesn’t steal your joy. 

The enemy would love to keep us down, limit us or just keep us in our funk as much as possible. We shouldn’t ignore our disappoints but acknowledge them and bring them before God asking for His help and healing. Ask Him for His perspective, feel our pain and give it to Him. Then in His presence ask for help to see the way forward. Sometimes we need someone to listen to us. Knowing they have heard and understood where we’re at is enough. Sometimes we need help to process what we can do to change the situation or understand someone else’s perspective and extend forgiveness. So we can then turn to be thankful, happy and appreciate the joy in nature, others or the little victories around. I don’t want anyone or anything to steal my joy – it’s not theirs to take. It’s mine to savour and share.

8. Lockdown fatigue getting the better of you – let’s change that.

I know many of us struggle with lockdown fatigue. Where we’re tired of having to wear a face-mask, keep our distance, only see the allowed number of people at one time, even not allowed to sing in a room with someone else present. We want to break out of the bubble and be normal – even for just 1 day. But we would all hate it if we were the one who passed Covid on to someone who’s body couldn’t fight the virus as well. When you feel things are getting on top of you, do something else that you love – take a hot bath with candles around, go for a run, shout at the moon, watch a movie that never fails to make you laugh, pray for our healthcare workers who have to fight the worst of Covid every day. We all want to see this pandemic season end, to not take another person’s life. So let’s stand in the opposite spirit – to take our frustration and channel it into warrior prayers and helping bless someone else. 

9. Patience = actively waiting.

Waiting doesn’t have to be a passive thing. Being patient doesn’t mean you sit back or standstill to have good patience. It’s not just about having a positive attitude while waiting for someone else to do something you have no control over. No, it’s not about pressuring them to do what you’re waiting for them to do/ change either. But about taking responsibility to see what else you can do, while waiting, to be best prepared for when you can take action in that particular area next. For example:

Your character and response to others inactivity; you have the power to choose how you will respond – with patience, kindness and encouragement. 

How else can you put this ‘free’ time to best use? Are there other tasks you need to work on, finish, and start that you currently have the time to pay attention? Is someone else waiting on you to do something you said you would do?

Are there any adjustments or improvements you can do to make the report, website, article, design… even better? (especially if you have time to go back and see it with fresh eyes).

How’s your attitude? Does it need a reality check? Do you need to ask forgiveness to someone for your impatience or inactivity?

What patience means

I’m regularly asked – “Your name is Patience, so are you patient?” My answer is that I am more patient because I have a constant reminder. But there is a limit to when it’s ok to not be patient any more. To state your case and ask the person you’re waiting on to step up and do. When I lived in India, I had lots of practice waiting in long hot queues. Instead of being frustrated or stressed about how long it was taking, chose to use that time to think and process stuff I needed time to think about. To look around the room and observe others, sometimes praying for them or asking God to help me understand the Indian culture through His eyes. We all have to wait for things, but it’s how you use your time and respond to unexpected and expected times of pause/ waiting – that’s where your character is best developed.

Look ahead

We have 46 weeks left of this year – that is a lot of time and potential. We don’t know all that’s going to happen this year, but I want to be a better Patience, friend, sister, writer, leader, disciple and french speaker by the end of 2021. It’s up to me how much I grow, learn and bless others with each day we have. I ask God to help me be obedient to what He asks of me each day. Don’t wait to be asked, take the initiative, be present in each moment and enjoy the time I have with those around me today.

Writing goals for the year is also an excellent way to plan ahead. Check out two of my previous blogs: #4 Looking ahead to 2021 and #11 Smart Goals – helping you create an action plan to help you.

So I leave you with this prayer from Ephesians 1 (in The Message version)

“That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you – every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask – ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory – to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of his glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him – endless energy, boundless strength!

All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a through in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the centre of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.”