Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: I just got home from an impromptu dance party with some small foster children I was on a playdate with. I’m still beaming – my heart does a happy front-flip every time I picture the goofy smile written across the face of this pre-verbal toddler who didn’t say much but who communicated such loud joy with his whole body as we rocked out together to The Lion Sleeps Tonight. His older brother was the mastermind behind the idea; after we got back from a playdate at the park and found there was no one else home yet, a mischievous glint flashed across his eyes and he said, “We have the house all to ourselves… we should have a party!!!A dance party!” So we did. It was awesome.
On Monday morning I woke up to a message from a friend that read, “I am sorry to hear about your lockdown!” I had literally just woken up moments before picking up my phone (I know, I know, I’m a millennial), so the fact that we were going into lockdown was news to me. When I’d gone to bed 8 hours earlier, I expected to wake up to another normal day. Instead, I found out from an interstate friend that Brisbane was going into a snap lockdown to control the spread of some new covid cases.
When I first started this blog about a year ago, one of my main goals was to share stories. By nature, I tend to intellectualise a bit and default to sharing ideas rather than stories, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that there’s a deeper kind of learning that happens through embodied experiences and stories. Some learning is more caught than taught: especially the kind of learning that involves character growth and worldview shifts. So I wanted to share with you a story of how my church family taught me about family.
A few weeks ago I was on a late an evening walk through the park talking to a dear friend on the phone about how lockdown and social distancing have affected us this year. Both of us are people that have always been good at long-distance friendships, and we’ve both managed to stay closely connected to our friends this year through phone calls, video calls, 1-1 catchups and small group gatherings. But something was missing.
Last week a good friend had me over for dinner. He and his wife were great company, and we enjoyed chatting about all sorts of things, both funny and serious; and I came away feeling really encouraged by them. In particular, I felt really seen and loved in my journey as a single gay Christian. Occasionally you have these beautiful moments of feeling the verbal equivalent of a warm hug (since real-life hugs are off limits at the moment) where a conversation just leaves you feeling really cared for—really embraced.
In my last post I talked about the idea of cultural scripts that tell us how to live and behave: what to aspire to. Cultural scripts embody the virtues a community values most highly. But what do we do when our community doesn’t value things that ought to be valued? What do we do when the cultural script we are handed is inadequate in guiding us to a life of flourishing? I think our culture needs to re-write those scripts.
As someone who [mostly] identifies as an extroverted people-person, I’ve been extremely surprised to find how much I’m enjoying the self-isolation life. I might even go so far as to say I feel like I am flourishing more right now than I have in years. This has been a bizarre experience to make sense of, especially as I see people all around me struggling with loneliness, anxiety or despair.