As we begin to think about what life may look like after a global pandemic (even while we are still dealing with the pandemic, at least in the U.S.), it can be very tempting to fall into “going back to normal.” This is especially true for those of us who are working on living more simply and striving for a Christian minimalist lifestyle informed by our faith.
Below are some of the major temptations we may have post-pandemic, and the “mic drops” that can snap us out of it.
TEMPTATION: Let’s forget the pandemic happened so we can go back to the way things were.
MIC DROP: The pandemic really happened, and it changed how we understand our lives.
It’s natural for us to want to forget the months we spent staying at home and/or having less ability to do things we are used to doing– because those months were filled with uncertainty and fear and worry.
But for better or for worse, the months during the pandemic made us reevaluate how we spend our time, energy, and resources. In a lot of ways, people were thrown into a more minimalist lifestyle without the understanding of what that type of lifestyle entails. And when our reality shifts drastically and suddenly, we often want to go back to the way things were as soon as possible.
Our consumer culture will capitalize on our innate desire to “get back to normal.” Those who benefit from consumerism will attempt to convince us that our lives can go back to how they were before, and we don’t have to think about the important things that were highlighted during the pandemic– because that serves our consumer culture best.
But the pandemic happened. And if we are open to it, we can use what we learned during the pandemic and change our lives to focus on God and what’s most important. We can live an abundant life filled with God and what matters most (John 10:10) rather than accumulating material things, “success,” and money.
TEMPTATION: If we buy more stuff, we will go back to “normal.”
MIC DROP: Buying things won’t make us feel normal again.
When we are confronted with an uncertain future, we tend to regress and fall back on things that feel comfortable. And for many of us, what feels comfortable is buying things we don’t need to fill some sort of emotional/physical/spiritual void.
For those of us who live in the U.S. and live within that consumer society, we will be bombarded by the message that we need to buy things in order to get our nation and lives back on track.
Hear the good news: It is not your job to save the economy. You are not less patriotic if you don’t go and buy a ton of things you don’t need. You can live into God’s purpose for you by focusing on God and the most important things rather than buying into our consumer society’s guilt trip about getting back to “normal.”
Reject the lie. Buying things will not get you back to normal. Our “normal” is actually the life God wants for us, and that life is not about accumulating stuff.
Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for God has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”Hebrews 13:5
God calls us to be “content with what we have” and not to buy into our consumer culture, literally. We can support our economy and country by continuing to buy our essentials, and buying necessary things through local and small businesses, like ordering take-out/delivery at local restaurants, etc. Falling back on our old bad habits of buying things we don’t need will just perpetuate the vicious consumer cycle and our dissatisfaction.
TEMPTATION: Let’s get back to the way things were as fast as possible.
MIC DROP: We need to make a new normal, and not go back to the way things were.
We may think we want to go back to the way things were before the pandemic because we were used to it.
But our lives before the pandemic were incredibly problematic in a lot of different ways, and many times we just ignored the major issues because we were busy and it was just easier. Our world was run by greed, consumption, oppression, and lack of Sabbath rest– the opposite of what God wants for us:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,Luke 4:18-19
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Jesus came so that these things could happen– and during the pandemic, our eyes have been opened to how far our world has fallen short of God’s vision for us. We are now given the chance to create a new reality, a reality that is more in line with God.
God is inviting us to remake our world in God’s image. We are being called to share God’s love with all people, live more simply, and be generous with those who are in need. We can do something different and amazing, rather than going back to “normal.”
We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was never normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.Sonya Renee Taylor
Let us go forward and build up God’s kingdom on earth, to the glory of God.