Amidst the shelter at home quarantine, I received a very interesting question via my Instagram. Even though it’s been months and we’re all in different parts of the country with varying plans for re-opening, many will ponder different aspects of her vulnerable question.

“Jen, I know you are passionate about creating community and biblical hospitality, but what if after this quarantine, I struggle to find my place again? I’m finding I don’t like small talk and I don’t miss ‘lunch with the girls.’ I love my family and realize that being with my kids is my passion. I don’t really have interests outside of them, but that’s not really fair to them is it? How do I step back into the social/friend stuff when I don’t even want to?”

I wrestled through my response to her because I’ve been struggling too. The longer we are living distant lives, the potential for complacency becomes greater. The quarantine has already been going on for months so statistically, we’re forming new habits. Habits filled with distance. Habits designed to measure personal safety and comfort. Habits that systematically make us question how our day’s actions will impact our health, ourselves, and our families. It’s just a fact.

So when one of the most important aspects of my personal ministry’s foundation encourages women to step forward in absolute freedom to love on others by gathering and “just opening the door,” my heart grieves amidst this “must shut the door” lifestyle.  Understanding there’s never been a more important time to ward off the loneliness and isolation that play havoc in a woman’s soul, please know that I have been on my knees in prayer for you — all of you.

Community is of critical importance, especially in these times. We are created for it, and so I’ve spent time brainstorming and petitioning the Lord for wisdom as to what that will look like in the future. I know we can’t stop gathering. We can’t stop pursuing one another — it’s more important now than ever before.

Yet the ongoing social, emotional, and even spiritual implications in which COVID-19 manifests itself varies dramatically for each family unit whether we are single, married, with kids or without. We need to give grace to ourselves as we figure out our new normal because it will take time. There’s no “one tried and true way” for us to recover from a pandemic, yet the wisdom of Scripture is quite straight forward when it comes to the topics in her question — mentoring and discipleship (for her, parenting) and practicing hospitality.

While there are lists of how-to’s on these topics, we must first understand why we’re commanded to pursue others and then model it. God’s Word provides the answer, and His Word doesn’t change amidst varying social climates.

First, I celebrated this precious mom and the tremendous job she’s doing of teaching His Word to her children. As you know, that is no small feat. To find such joy and to place such a priority on discipling her closest neighbors – her own children – speaks to the critical importance of Deuteronomy 6:7 —

Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

When we talk and then walk out His commandments throughout the day, we bring Him glory. But it can’t stop there. We must talk and walk out our faith for those inside and outside our homes.

Every day I pray, “Bearing the Imago Dei, being made in Your image, Lord, show me unique ways that I can point others to You today.” I remind myself, “Jen, this isn’t about you or your comfort,” and I embrace 1 Thessalonians 2:8 —

Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

So whether it’s for our neighbors or co-workers or our children, my desire is that they witness a woman whose faith embraces the fullness of God’s unending, overflowing, abundant, and perfect love. I pray they’ll know our lives have been so changed, that we can’t help but tell others about what the Savior has been up to in our lives. For the Schmidt family (and I hope yours too), we can’t help but invite others into our home (or gather at a park) or pursue those who need encouragement. We know the story of His goodness and are compelled to share it. We don’t always get this right. In fact, sometimes we fail miserably, but we continue to step forward asking Him to use our mistakes.

So to the mom who asked me that question, I didn’t give her any tips on how to step back into the social/friend stuff, but instead, I challenged her to understand the why. We welcome and invite others into community because we’re driven by the overarching principle to love God, love His will, and point others to His glory.

I challenged her to ask these same questions as if the quarantine never occurred. Would she struggle with the same issues? Would you? Do you?

As she wrestled through my response, her very real and raw answer spoke to me.

“You gave me a lot to think about. ‘We are commanded to,’  you said. Still soaking that in and really needing to ponder what you said to me.”

As always, my friends, grace on, guilt off. But ponder with me what your new normal will look like, and let’s keep pursuing others, compelled by the love God has for us.