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For many people, COVID-19 restrictions mean that we are spending a lot more time with our families than what is the norm. This brings with it a whole lot of opportunities to grow together as a family and challenges in navigating the usual tensions when they are intensified by spending so much more time together. For those of us who are single, the opportunities and challenges are different.

Church on your own

Across the past few weeks, I’ve had the bizarre experience of live streaming church services with only my dog as company. The peculiarity of only seeing my pastor on the screen is amplified by singing the psalms and hymns on my own. There is no accountability to ensure that I get out of bed on time and nobody would be the wiser if I were to watch the service in my dressing gown. I miss the smiles and short chats that happen before the service and the unplanned heart-to-hearts that happen over coffee afterwards. Church has suddenly become a very lonely experience.

This provides a unique opportunity for Sunday mornings in which I can spend a greater amount of time after the service reflecting on the message. The worship service is always a great springboard for personal growth and deepening our personal relationship with God. Not interacting with anyone following the service provides a chance to do this while everything is fresh in our minds.

Silence

Instead of an increased time in our homes with a noisy family, single people are faced with an increased amount of silence. Especially for those of us who are now working from home, we spend a whole lot more time with only ourselves as company. Events have been falling off our schedules and the interactions that fill our weeks are suddenly non-existent. Many of us come face to face with loneliness from time to time, but when our social calendar is empty, the loneliness is amplified.

When the silence is so much bigger our thoughts have the tendency to be much louder. It is easy to stay inside our heads when there is no one around to help us externalise our thoughts. This is particularly challenging while we face the overwhelm of all the change that is happening in everyone’s lives right now. Isolated with our thoughts can be incredibly challenging for our mental health.

Silence is also good. On one level, fewer social commitments mean that there is the chance to spend more time with our hobbies or pick up a new one. I personally am super excited about making my way through my rather large collection of unfinished art projects. We can do some of the big cleaning jobs that we never had the time for previously or start doing some DIY projects and other home improvement jobs that we keep putting off.

Less noise in our lives also makes it easier to listen properly to our bodies, our minds and most of all to God. As the volume turns down on everything that we fit into our daily lives, we may find that our minds are not constantly jumping back to our to-do lists while we do our devotions. When we are not rushing about, we can hear the messages we get from our body and have the time to respond to them wisely. Our thoughts are loud when we face silence, and this can be overwhelming without the right structures. However, when we take the time to grow in our awareness of God and our awareness of self, there is the space for us to listen and engage with what is going on inside of our hearts and minds.

Temptation to isolate as well as distance

With many social events cancelled and our calendars unusually empty, it is very tempting to button down the hatches and weather out the storm of COVID-19 without engaging with anyone. We are being told to socially distance and isolate physically, not emotionally or spiritually. This temptation is particularly strong for those of us who are not doing so well with our mental or spiritual health. The truth is, regardless of what is happening in the world, we need people around us. We may not be able to hang out in groups or have small gatherings with people anymore but there are still so many opportunities to connect with people on a one-to-one level. It is when we spend time with people individually that the most meaningful, edifying and uplifting interactions happen. It is in these times that we gain clearer glimpses into the hearts of those who are so near and dear to us.

Stay connected with those you love. Call or facetime with family. Reach out to your close friends and have a virtual dinner together. Here in Western Australia we are blessed to still meet with one other person; organise to go for a walk or meet in a park somewhere. As single people we are blessed with the gift of spontaneity. Whether we are social distancing or not we have a flexibility and freedom that isn’t available to those who have families. As we move forward in this pandemic use this gift well.

Grow in Relationship with God and Your Neighbour

We are commanded to love and serve our God with every fibre of our being, and to love our neighbour self-sacrificially. COVID-19 has brought with it many challenges. As single people we can face these challenges in the strength that God has given us. As we grow in relationship with Him, we also grow in relationship with each-other.