10 Connecting Lessons From COVID-19 to 2021!!!

10 Connecting Lessons From COVID-19 to 2021!!!

I tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, December 1st.

It all started on Thanksgiving day. My Korean wife loves Christmas! She shops all year long for people. Hallmark movies are recorded and watched again and again. The house is transformed into nativity sets, lights, trees, and Christmas decorations. My role? The outside! I grumble. Boxes of lights that worked the previous year, more often than not, don’t work now. Where did all the extension cords run off to? The ladder seems more wobbly than last year. The roof is a bit taller than I remembered. As I tried to decorate to please my Christmas wife, I felt fatigued. My legs, arms, and head didn’t feel quite right. The first thought was, “I am REALLY out of shape!!!”

As those symptoms increased for me the next two days. In addition, my wife came down with a cough and tiredness, so we decided to go get a COVID test just to be safe. On December 2nd, we both were told we were positive for the virus. For the next two weeks, we were hurting. Body aches, headaches, eyes ready to pop out of the sockets, a low grade fever that seemed to spike at night leading to nightmares. No taste and no appetite. The COVID didn’t make it to my chest but it sure did with my wife. Her cough, breathing, and fatigue were tough to witness.

My heart goes out to those that have had it worse than us. Hospitalization, ventilators, loneliness, and death has been the tragic story of many around the world. Our case was mild compared to these dear souls but during our two weeks, days were long and uncertain.

The following are 10 lessons I have learned from dealing with COVID and how that is shaping my 2021:

10. Life is short. How often I take my health for granted! The little things that I don’t even think about: equilibrium, a normal temperature, waking up with no achiness, and eyeballs that don’t hurt each time I blink are just a few that I will cherish going forward. Did you know that if you lived in the late 1890’s, your life expectancy would be under 50 years old? So really, those of us over 50, our mindset should be that life is dessert. The ancient scriptures tell us that life is a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. My lesson going into 2021 is to embrace each day as if it is my last similar to how I attack my dessert!

9. Update your will. As I stared at the ceiling of my bedroom feeling that my body was deteriorating (OK, I know what you are thinking. You are saying to yourself, “Towne, your body has been deteriorating for a LONG time!”, I couldn’t help but realize my stuff is not in order if this was really it. Yes, I have embarked on what I call The Death Purge these last few years. The Death Purge for me is sharing a book from my library at every meeting I have. Since my kids won’t be interested in packing up over a 1,000 titles and giving them to Goodwill, I want to make my departure easier for them. Why I thought of my books and not a will is beyond me. My lesson for 2021 is to spend some money to create a Will that will take care of those around me and make it easier for them.

8. Go outside. During my three weeks on my back as I contemplated if these were the last days on planet earth, I would occasionally shuffle to the back yard, find a sliver of sunlight, sit in a chair and bask in the light. As I closed my eyes, I heard sounds I had never paid attention to before. The sounds of life all around me. Birds chirping, airplanes overhead, cars along the street, voices coming from nearby houses, wind rustling branches, and the sound of silence. It was good for my soul and I realized that a lesson for 2021 is to be more intentional when it comes to just being outside, with zero agenda and task. Oh, the sounds we will hear!

7. Work is a good thing. As enticing as it is to imagine a life of retirement, free from the pressures and annoying alarm clock, COVID reminded me that we were made for purposeful work. Within our gut, we want to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Feeling comatose for those weeks, I struggled emotionally. The dark days lied to me. They quietly whispered that my life meant nothing. That I had no purpose and was letting so many down by being quarantined. I have grown in the fact that my work does not define me but work is a good thing.

6. Appreciate the gift of taste. Years ago, a dear friend of mine shared with me that he permanently lost his sense of taste. Next to losing my eyesight, I think that would be the worst thing that could happen to me. Taste is so enjoyable and something we never even think about losing. When I lost my taste (actually a gross metal taste invaded my taste buds for about a week), my first thought was…I am going to lose weight!!! But as reality set in, I was reminded of the importance of the delight of taste in our lives. From food, to gum, to even toothpaste, the miracle of taste adds so much to the enjoyment of life. My taste is back and I am so thankful! I am even embracing the taste of broccoli so miracles do happen!

5. Invest in others. Being alone (I was with my wife but she moved into the guest room for those weeks. I’ve never seen her so happy!), cut off from others for almost a month, reminded me what is really important, lasting, and eternal: PEOPLE! As much as we focus on material things (houses, phones, televisions, furniture, clothes, etc.), all of it is kindling in the end. What is truly lasting are people and relationships. The lesson I learned is truly investing in people more than those things in my life that are temporal. Oh, by the way, Sophia moved back into our bedroom if I promised to stay on my side of the bed!

4. See beauty all around. When one is stuck looking at the same thing day after day (like a closed off bedroom with no one around), beauty is sometimes hard to find. Yet, as I looked closely at things in the bedroom that I never paid attention to before, oh the beauty I saw! Pictures, paintings, colors, and designs are just a few that shouted to me during the COVID journey. My lesson going into 2021 is to continue intentionally looking for the beauty in all things!
3. Friends want to help, let them. For those that know me, I don’t receive well. It is easier for me to ask the questions rather than answer them. Yet in December, while I was totally dependent on others, I was shoved out of my comfort zone and received their help and love. It was overwhelming in a good way. Food was delivered to our doorstep. Neighbors banded together to support us. Family and friends were there at a moment’s notice. My wife always chooses a word for each new year. Her word this past year was RECEIVE. All year long, she had been learning how to receive. When December came, with the virus knocking us off our feet, she accepted the attention graciously. For me, it was more of a challenge but I realized the truth of the balance of giving and receiving. It might be my word for 2021.

2. Hugs are huge. I grew up in a hugging family. Both my mom and dad hugged me a lot. Naturally, I inherited the physical touch gene. It drives some crazy (ask my stepmom) but it is natural and important for me to appropriately touch those dear to me. I even began shaking the hand of the flight attendants (pre-COVID) when exiting the plane and communicating how much I appreciated their service (you should have seen some of their expressions!). We were created to be touched. While I was quarantined and dealing with the virus, the absence of meaningful touch was difficult. Moving into 2021, I’m hugging! I might even hug a flight attendant on my next flight!

1. Family. During the dark days of December when the virus was doing its thing, one of my grandsons was so concerned for me that he kept asking his mom, “Is Papa going to die?” How precious is that? As our family came over, we looked and communicated through the windows for those three weeks, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how priceless family is to me. There are no perfect families and issues pop up to strain relationships BUT family is such a blessing and not to be taken for granted.
“Is Papa going to die?” One day…yep. But I am alive and kicking for 2021 inspired by the lessons I learned from COVID in 2020.

My hope and prayer for you is that you are encouraged in 2021 to live, laugh, and learn. If An UpTowne Experience can serve you in the coming year, please reach out as we are committed in growing schools, businesses, and churches to abundant organizational health.

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