I may be one of the few people who wish that the enhanced community quarantine placed in Metro Manila, Philippines, won’t end yet. As the region finished its ninth and final week of stay-at-home orders, being at home wasn’t all that bad, besides, it’s the safest place in the world to be in.
The Enhanced Community Quarantine was formally placed on Metro Manila on March 16. A week before, I’ve already been in self-imposed quarantine at home because of the cancellation of classes. I celebrated my 24th birthday with a pizza delivery to our house. Simple, but I was still very much happy, if not happier than year’s before.
The truth is, there is much happiness in simplicity that people no longer grasp because of the development of technology that brings us what we want right there and then, flashier and more indulgent with social media’s pressure. The time spent at home was a welcomed break from the bustle and hustle of life as we know it. Responsibilities continued, even doubled, but there was a temporary halt to my worries and question marks in life. Those, I never wanted to face. But during devotion on the morning of May 11, the Lord gave me such wonderful and comforting words:
“During these [problematic] times, when my strength wanes and immediate relief evades me, running and hiding can seem like a good idea. But since I can’t escape my pain, change my circumstances, or ignore my emotions, I’m learning slowly to rely on God to carry me through.”
The material then talked about King David’s experience when his son, Absalom, was plotting to kill him for the throne. Despite such painful circumstances, David’s faith never wavered and found peace and solace from the Lord. In Psalm 3, he writes, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me.”
It were the words I needed the most. Restless and anxious from a number of things, I was afraid that lifting the community quarantine and going back to regular life was just like throwing me back into shark-infested waters to be devoured by contemptuous people. Just like David, who was plotted against, the Lord will deliver me. As the Lord said, what men plot for evil, the Lord will change for good. When I look back at previous experiences, the Lord had indeed been faithful and He will still be faithful now.
During this ECQ, the Lord showed us His goodness in several instances and I’ll bear testimony to it. One was the sudden move of the bank below our house to a new branch in the same street in November last year. While we didn’t think much of it back then expect for the inconvenience it caused us, God’s plan was revealed to us. Their employees tested positive for Covid-19 within the first two weeks of ECQ and the entire staff was placed into self-isolated quarantine. Had not God timed their move perfectly would we be exposed to certain risk. Why should I doubt him now?
Calmer because of my renewed trust in the Lord, on the last day of ECQ, I assessed myself for the past two months. In terms of productivity, I was able to complete the goals I had set myself in the beginning and even had to write another list. There were mundane goals such as helping in housework and avoiding soft-drinks and snacks (I had one entire can of Coca-Cola just once and the rest were seldom single sips), but there were also big ones like exercising and studying. One of the things that I’m proud of was that I made different kinds of breakfast food.
I followed a schedule that pushed me to keep working on things. I worked on my personal growth and character building. When I found myself not grumbling at the sight of dirty dishes, I may have grown up a little to realize that the dishes must be cleaned by someone and that someone could be me. I changed my mindset to one that likened housework to hitting two birds with one stone: I’m helping my parents and at the same time, I’m helping myself. By doing what my parents did, I learned to appreciate them even more. I did much cleaning, washing, folding, and cooking.
I also took care of myself and engaged in self-care activities. And I worked hard.
My job shifted to a work-from-home setup for the first two to three weeks of quarantine. I never thought that staring into a screen and talking for hours is so tiring! When my work was suspended I shifted to different kinds of work for the church. When that was over, I worked on developing certain skills and studying.
Free time at 4 to 6PM and after 9PM were spent reading books or painting. At the end of nine weeks, I was able to read eight books and create six watercolour paintings and two and 1/2 canvas paintings.
Despite working so much around the house, God is good that He has helped me achieve so much during this period. God knows how, sometimes, I really don’t want to stand at the kitchen counter anymore because I was tired of it. There were also times when I felt like I should be doing more and push myself to do more and to work harder, but maybe I should also allow myself to rest just like the fika (Swedish for coffee break) I take in the afternoon drinking a cup of hot coffee and having a biscuit. Looking back and slashing out every goal on my list, I thank the Lord for giving me the strength to accomplish them.
There is still much more to accomplish and the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine terrifies me, but the passage of time makes it inevitable. In this new adjustment phase, the illustration of Jesus as the Shepherd, as pointed out by various Sunday services on May 17, is the perfect image of God that I need right now. We find Him as the Shepherd in Psalm 23:
A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
It is touching to know that while I am like a sheep who is lost and confused in fear, I have a shepherd who will lead me through the darkness, protect me from danger, and comfort me. It’s amazing how God knows us individually and how He knows what right words you need to hear to be comforted. I am confident that the Lord will protect me from evil and that He will deliver me from any harm. Even when I face difficulties and heartaches, I will not fear, but place my faith unto Him.
The last day of ECQ was spent into deep reflection and I remember all of God’s blessings. My heart is just full of thanksgiving to the Almighty God. He is good all time!