What a crazy time in history we’re living through at the moment! In fact it’s so crazy, I just apologized to 2019 for saying it was one of the worst years ever!
I wanted to take a moment to share a few thoughts regarding the foreseeable future that I believe you will find helpful.
Proverbs 22:3 says this: “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”
The prudent or shrewd person knows where the dangers are in life and avoids them. The simple or naive are untrained, gullible and ill equipped to survive the dangers of this world. In other words, a wise man sees trouble from afar off and arranges his steps to stay out of trouble.
What dangers will confront us in the coming days?
During this time of social distancing, several of us will be working from home and not getting out as much as we’re accustomed. This will without a doubt present some potential dangers that you should be aware of and be proactive in avoiding.
Social Distancing not Social Isolation:
We are already facing a major loneliness epidemic. Research tells us that 63% of men admit to being lonely and an even higher percentage of men claim they don’t have a single best friend.
We have indirect friendships. We watch sports together or see other men a couple of times a month at church, but we lack deep direct friendships. The kind of friendships where you’re REALLY known by others and they're known by you.
We have “rust” friends. Like the ones that we met in college that we talk with once a year and “it seems like we just pick up where we left off” kinda friends. But do they really still know who we are, the changes we’ve been through, or the life challenges we’ve faced?
Now mix in a little global social distancing and we have a different kind of pandemic on our hands, which, by the way, you should be washing at least for 20 seconds... a thousand times a day. You can literally starve yourself emotionally by a lack of connecting with another human. The negative results can be an avalanche of frustration, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, a weakened immune system, increased stress levels, and suicidal thoughts.
It brings to mind an old Zulu proverb that says, “A person is a person through other persons.”
Now more than ever, we need to be diligent about OTHER persons. Simply put, you need friends. We ALL need friends. Not just a casual friend, but a real friend.
Of course I can already hear you saying, “really?!” In an age of “stay at home” and “social distancing?”
Yes! Remember, a wise man sees danger from afar and avoids it. Isolation is like quicksand in the jungle. Be aware of it and avoid it. Here’s a few practical steps to help you:
- Take a break from the news: Continually watching, listening or reading about the coronavirus pandemic will feed fear and will cause mental distress.
- Take control of social media: An overly saturated diet of social media isn’t mentally or emotionally healthy. Limit your usage by discipline and accountability.
- Take a chance and reach out: Do you realize how many men are desperate for someone to just reach out? Don’t wait to be picked like it’s a fifth grade basketball game. Be strong and courageous! Initiate the connection! If you don't have anyone to reach out too, take a risk and reach out to someone that you’ve always wished was your friend to someone you’ve always wanted to talk to but never had the time.
- Take care of your body: Get outside Take a daily walk or two. Eat healthy. Get plenty of sleep. You don’t need a gym membership to be active. There are a plethora of free videos to help you navigate simple body weight exercises.
- Take a moment and reflect: Life is NOT all bad! If you look at a life with a sober mind, you realize that good and bad happen simultaneously. You’re responsible for which one captures your focus. It’s a part of the tension of life. Don’t lose sight of the good, because the bad fights for a ginormous portion of your thoughts.
During the 1606 plague in England, Shakespeare was quarantined. During his confinement he wrote MacBeth, King Lear and Anthony and Cleopatra. If you have the right perspective, instead of writing a few best-sellers, maybe you could initiate new friendships that will last a lifetime.
This is the time. This is your moment. You were built for such a time as this!
JT McCraw is the men’s pastor at Bethel World Outreach in Brentwood, TN, a John Maxwell certified Life Coach/Trainer/Speaker and founder of the BE MEN Movement, where he provides oversight for this multi-ethnic, multi-site men’s ministry, focusing on activating, challenging & training men for their journey to authentic manhood. Presently they have locations in Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Alabama and Arizona. JT lives in Franklin, TN with his wife of twenty-eight years and has five incredible children. You can follow JT on Twitter @jtmccraw.