Togetherness

The doors are opening. Slowly but surely, the doors are opening. Restaurants will soon host family dinners, gyms will provide a time of group Zumba lessons, and our previous sense of a normal world will soon return. Hallelujah, amen! I should just stop my blog right there haha!

A lot of thoughts are running through my patients’ minds. They’re excited to return to their quarterly vacations, visiting friends and family, taking their spouse out to dinner, and returning to church.

At the same time, they have a lot of questions.

“But doc, can I go to a restaurant? Is it safe for me to return to work or to church? They’re asking me because medicine, despite it’s numerous guidelines and algorithms, is variable yet personalized to each patient. What works for one, may not work for the other.

So, how do you know if you should jump outside and greet all of your neighbors or remain quarantined?

You have to go and see your primary care provider. In general, if you have any underlying medical conditions, such as COPD, asthma, heart failure, uncontrolled diabetes, sarcoidosis, etc, you really should be cautious as to where you go and who you interact with until there is a successful treatment and/or a vaccine for this virus.

What we are now learning about COVID-19, is that this virus is no longer simply a target for the respiratory tract. We are now seeing neurological involvement (it’s causing strokes), hematological changes (clots in lower extremities), and GI distress (diarrhea). Basically, this virus is attacking people from head to toe.

So if you want to know if you should be quarantined, semi-quarantined, or freely out in public, please, please, please discuss your overall health with your primary care provider and review your medical conditions and risk factors.

And be sure you know what to do if you think you have COVID-19.

Oh, and ibuprofen does not make COVID-19 worse. I’ve been asked that a lot so here’s your answer.

There once was a woman named Naomi who lost her husband and both of her sons suddenly. She was left alone with her two daughter-in-laws. During this time, an older woman like Naomi would’ve been left to die because she would’ve been too old to marry again and have more children and she wouldn’t have been allowed to work and make ends meet for herself.

She fell into a deep depression, so much so that she no longer wanted to be called Naomi. She wanted to be called “Mara” instead, which means “bitter”. She was depressed and felt that God turned her back on her.

She told her daughter-in-laws to leave her behind and find new husbands so that they could survive and thrive in life, without having to be burdened by her.

But one of her daughters-in-law, Ruth, remained faithful to Naomi. She told Naomi, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16 NIV

They were together, during a time of uncertainty.

This story has a happy ending. Ruth ends up marrying an honorable man and they have a son, who is an ancestor of David, which is the ancestry line of Jesus.

We long for physical togetherness now, especially during a time of a pandemic, but we should also long for a spiritual togetherness. When we can’t hug our families, we should pray for our families. This sense of togetherness is what makes us human. It’s how God created us.

“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the Earth and govern it.” Genesis 1:27-28 NLT.

When God created Adam, He knew He had to create Eve. And this was the start of our desire for togetherness.

God created us to have relationships with each other. And God created us to have a relationship with Him.

He gives us a choice on who we love and who we spend our time with.

Ruth chose to love and be faithful to her mother-in-law. She chose to worship God, which was Naomi’s God, not Ruth’s God (at first). She chose togetherness over everything else.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on isolation, quarantine, physical togetherness, and spiritual togetherness during this pandemic. I am a fairly introverted person and I enjoy my isolation, shoving my nose in a book, and falling asleep on the beach. But even I long for a deep relationship, especially with God. I want that connection. I want to feel at peace, loved, and happy.

Do you have this relationship? Do you feel God’s presence when you trip over something and laugh at yourself? Do you feel God’s comfort when you get into a screaming match with your teenager? Do you feel God’s love when you’re quarantined away from your family?

Whether or not you’re able to roam freely when the doors to the outside are open again, do you have spiritual togetherness? Does God fill your heart and soul indoors and outdoors?

My friend, I pray that your house will soon be filled with the ones you love. But I also pray that you welcome the one who created relationships and togetherness into your home as well. If you’re isolated, I hope that you can pick up the phone and call someone to pray with you so that you are spiritually comforted and connected.

You are loved by God. Know that. Seek that. And there, you will find your spiritual togetherness.

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