Maintaining Joy During Quarantine – By MVC Guest Author, Jaime Smith
Over a year ago I told my sister that sometimes I feel like I am left alone in a dark corner of the world to die. That’s how lonely I felt then in our little Hobbit hole on the Westside of Turlock. I didn’t have many close friends, people to come over, people to do life with. It always seemed like everyone else was out doing something together, and I was never invited. I didn’t think things could get much worse. Then they did.
When I found out about the stay-at-home order, I realized how much I would miss being out and about in the community and seeing people. I told my husband, I look forward to seeing people on a regular basis, like when we go to church on Sunday. I knew it would be so hard to lose that.
Once I faced what an awful time was in store. I realized I had to be strong. I started reading Psalm 91 almost daily, standing on the promises therein. Many things started occurring to me, like how much I appreciated teachers and schools, and I asked God to forgive me forever complaining about these things that have so much value in our society.
Then, the most amazing thing happened! My son, who had a history of behavioral issues with his special needs, actually became the most compliant, kind, and cooperative individual when it came to at-home learning. He seemed so happy to be home with me, and even though his behavior wasn’t perfect, we were getting along very well for the most part. This minor miracle blessed me so much, and I began to see just how much God was working all things together for my good, as in Romans 8:28. I determined in my heart that I was going to enjoy my life during this Stay-at-home order. As I’ve done so much throughout my life, I was going to make lemonade out of lemons.
Something I had really been enjoying for about a year was making soaps with my essential oils. I started to study more recipes on Pinterest and such and found much joy in making DIY products. I can’t explain why it thrills me so much to get online after the kids are in bed and peruse different recipes, getting excited about the many things I will make with essential oils. Then, when it actually comes to making them, I feel so overjoyed I could just burst. My friend says it’s because I’m crafty and creative, and it fills me back up. It’s funny; I never imagined I would be so excited about making soaps!
It is great to be creative like this, and I even turned to my favorite form of creativity: making music. For years I have dreamed of having a music career like J.J. Heller or Sara Groves. It’s just been hard to find the time for this. Then I noticed different musicians posting videos on Instagram, and I was really inspired. I liked how Natalie Grant and her husband were performing a song a day to keep the crazies away. I thought I can do something like that! It felt like I finally got the thumbs up from God to start posting my songs on Instagram. It has been a wonderful outlet for me, while I’m at home so much.
Something that has kept me going over the years, and there have been some incredibly tough times, is prayer. I began to develop a prayer life when I became a mom, and it’s something that has led me through some excruciatingly difficult times. At this time I cannot find very much time to pray, but as often as I can I pray for those with the virus, our leaders, and those who’ve lost someone to the virus. I have been excited about prayer over the years, as I have seen what it can do. To me, it’s like being on a treasure hunt every day, in which I follow a thread while living the good life with Jesus. He leads me to pray about certain things, and later I find out why, as I discover all of the little blessings he has lined up for me each day. I’ve even been blessed to pray with some prayer partners and join some prayer meetings over the months in quarantine.
Even though these things have been a blessing, I’m aware of the enemy’s tactic to bring division wherever God is doing something good. I was so excited about praying with others, but some things got thrown off because of misunderstandings. People have let me down, but I’ve been growing in maturity through it all. I know these things happen sometimes, but when I look on the bright side, I can see that I can reach more people this way. Once again, God is working things for my good, and I believe, the good of all people. I am determined to forgive and love in spite of how others have hurt me.
When it comes to joy, I’ve learned it is a choice. I have to choose joy in spite of how my circumstances are. It says in the Bible that the joy of the Lord is our strength. I didn’t always understand that passage, but now I can see that when Jesus infuses me with his joy, it’s my strength. Almost every day I ask God to infuse me with inner strength and joy. It really helps. Also, I am getting better at trusting God, which brings me joy.
While it is good to maintain joy, I’m also trying to be mindful of what others must be going through. I’ve been asking God to help me grow in empathy, and the best way is to cultivate a life of prayer, praying for those who’ve caught the virus, and those without work, etc. It says in the Bible somewhere that he who waters will himself be watered, so I try to reach out to those less fortunate than I am, and I know God will bless me. As I continually pray, I experience more of the joy of the Lord, as he fills my life with his tangible, glorious presence.
As his presence fills my life, I have more hopefulness. I no longer feel left alone to die. This journey of inner healing for depression and anxiety has been going on inside of me for many years. I’ve been working through my issues with God, and as I learn his ways, my life has been much more blessed. It seems like I was getting closer to being completely healed when quarantine started. It feels like God has used this time to see me through to complete healing. His ways are so good!
To follow Jaime’s oily and musical adventures, follow her on Instagram: @theoilyriser @jane.smith7377