A new normal?

Published 1:56 pm Monday, April 6, 2020

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By Charles Qualls

There is a tube of Clinique Line Concealer in my bathroom basket, skin tone #004 medium. I saw it today. Right there along with all the other toiletries I use every morning, it’s still there from years ago. To match, there is still a little plastic jar of eye-makeup remover pads in one of my desk drawers at the office. Let me explain.

At my former church, we were on TV across the city. Out of a population of more than seven million people, we were on a religious network that went into more than a million homes in a seven county area. Don’t get me wrong. We weren’t one of the crooked, smarmy megachurches that run all hours of the day and night on your cable system. We were simply one of many local churches who aired our normal worship services there. Rule No. 1 was that no one could ask for money on the air.

The TV lights in our sanctuary were harsh. They were powerful, and shone down on us from the tall ceiling. At that angle, any imperfections or let’s say signs of aging were magnified. “Charles, I was watching you on TV again this week,” said one childhood friend. “Are you OK? You haven’t been sick or anything, have you?”

The lights. They were cruel. So eventually I did what others wouldn’t readily admit to in churches there. I sat down in a makeup chair at Bloomingdales in the mall. While there, I learned that when a man sits down in one one of those department store chairs at the makeup counter, women will lose all social graces. They will take a slowww walk-by and stare at you like you are an invasive freak. I suppose they might have wondered if I were some TV celebrity, and were just trying to place me. They must have been disappointed.

Over time, putting on the makeup just under my eyes and wearing it around until noon became routine. Sundays only, of course. I would have never thought of doing something like that. As I got ready on Sunday mornings, I would dab on a few spots of it and spread it with a Q-tip. At noon, after church, I would make a beeline for my office and use the makeup remover pads to take it off. Simple. Years and years later, I did this without thought.

None of us seem to like the phrase much, a “new normal.” Use of it violates most things rational within us. No, I am not comparing a global pandemic with putting on eye makeup. Then again I am saying that we have the capacity to adapt to new, unthinkable routines and over time they don’t seem so new anymore.

Are we complete victims of this COVID-19 Coronavirus? We sure don’t have to be. Last week, on a “live” video update I did for our congregation, I outlined a few strategies that might be of help in adjusting to this odd, new way of life. Here are a few of them.

• Our congregation, and other churches, will do special online services or devotionals on Sundays. However, this enforced period of physical distancing is, among other things, a forced Sabbath. Explore what it might mean for you to view it that way. If you are “stuck at home,” how can you turn the tables and claim this time for intentional rest, productivity, growth, and other uses that you rarely take time to do?

• Consider how this might be different if we tried just that, “physical” distancing rather than social? Explore how you can take control of this time and reach out to others. In that spirit, you might find someone outside your household to check on. Don’t wait for someone to check on you. Call a friend, text or email a family member for whom you are concerned.

• In fact, I have a buddy back at home who is an in-demand business speaker. He talks about cultivating your own village around you. Become the mayor of your own little personal village. In these odd days of isolation, gather up your village.

• Try something new. Break the boredom of this new isolation at home. Get to that thing you’ve been thinking of doing, or have been putting off. Sign up for an online course. Tour museums online. Learn something. Cook a new recipe.

• Whatever else you do, find something every day that makes you laugh! Search out something online, on TV, in a book, watching a movie or wherever you can find humor.

We just may need a new normal to make it through this thing healthy and together.

THE REV. DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.