As a teenager I had a deep affection for boys. Not any particular boy, just boys in general. In fact, in middle school I wrote a song about this deep affection entitled Boys R’ Us. Borrowing the tune from the popular Toys R’ Us ads of that day and adopting my own lyrics, it went a little something like this:
I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Boys R’ Us girl
They’ve got a million boys at Boys R’ Us that I can play with
I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Boys R’ Us girl
They’ve got the cutest boys at Boy’s R’ Us you’ll really flip your lid
From hunks to babes, to guys that shave
It’s the biggest boy store there is (Gee Whiz!)
I don’t want to grow up ‘cuz maybe if I did
I wouldn’t be a Boys R’ Us girl
Did I mention that my affection for boys was deep? Did I also mention it was concerning? Fortunately though I did grow up, found the ultimate “Boy” and married him. My days of cruising the aisles of Boys R’ Us were finally over. I find it completely tragic that I can still recall every lyric to that song, but maybe that will help you understand why my parents had to ground me from boys for an entire summer. That’s right. An entire summer I was banned from boys. My poor parents! I put them in a place of absolute desperation. Knowing if I continued to be a Boys R’ Us Girl there would be significant consequences. So, my parents isolated me from the raging hormones of the teenage boy. My life was surely over at the age of 14. All those dreams imagined while playing M.A.S.H (If you don’t know what that is, ask any middle school girl…it lives on even now) all those dreams had now vanished. At least, that’s how I felt. I believe the goal of that summer was to help my obsession with boys to decrease. Let me tell you people, I barely survived! I admit that I might have broken out of my isolation a time or two, but by summer’s end I was definitely even more obsessed. Again, my poor parents!
Currently, our world is navigating a pandemic. The outbreak of COVID-19 has altered our lives requiring us to live in a state of self-quarantine. The last few weeks have reminded me of that summer of the great boy ban. Feelings of isolation, loss of freedoms and contact with the outside world seem similar. Just as I gained a new appreciation for boys on the other side of that summer, I believe there will also be a deeper sense of appreciation on the other side of this COVID-19 quarantine. The ordinary of our daily life has been set aside, restricted out of necessity. When the time comes that we can live outside of these restrictions what will you appreciate in a whole new way? Maybe it will be those fairly simple, routine things that you never stopped to appreciate before. It’s likely that now, after being restricted; we will all grow in gratitude.
If there’s an area we can all benefit from continued growth, it would be gratitude. In the book of Philippians, Paul exhorts us to not be anxious, but to discuss the situations of life that cause us anxiety with God. One key component to these anxiety-lifting conversations is gratitude.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving; let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. 9 Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
In the passage above, the italicized portions are prescriptive for relieving anxiety and ushering in peace.
- Be JOYFUL and GRACIOUS
- Pray with thankfulness
- Think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, morally excellent, or worthy of praise. (Does this describe your current thought filter?)
Maybe this becomes a part of your daily practice as individuals or as a family in the midst of this season of quarantine. A practice added at dinner or bedtime, keeping a list that grows with a heart of gratitude. Asking questions such as:
- What brought me joy today?
- How did I extend grace to someone today?
- What can we give thanks to God for today?
- What am I thinking about that does not pass through the thought filter of Philippians 4:8? What can I replace that thought with?
I believe what Paul says, that as we practice the ways of gratitude in the midst of this pandemic, we will experience a guard of God’s peace over our hearts. This is my hope and prayer for you friends.