Michael Fuelling - March 27, 2020

0708 Quarantine Is Exposing Myself And My Family. The Good And The Bad. What Do I Do With This?

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This is the Village Church Q & A Podcast where our goal is to create digital, shareable and helpful content. To make disciples who will go, grow, and overcome.

Suz Macleod: Hey it’s Suz MacLeod here with the Village Church Q&A podcast. We are back again talking about the coronavirus. This time, Pastor Michael, we’re talking about quarantine because I’m seeing this in myself. Quarantine is exposing myself and my family, not exposing to the virus, I’m talking about the internal exposure that’s coming out. The good and the bad, right? Both are coming out of me. What do I do with this?

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Pastor Michael Fuelling: So the people of God are a self-reflective people. Always have been. Always should be. The crazy of American culture up until this last month or two, it is so insane that the ability for Americans to stop and reflect and consider and to think, it’s like a lost art. So you have like a, in not the, sort of the fringes of evangelicalism, you have these more contemplative preachers or people just advocating for a slower lifestyle, et cetera. They’re on the fringes because their voices are almost impossible to obey with the pace of this life and culture. The art of reflection and stopping and Sabbath, it’s, it’s almost impossible. Even when you think about church staff and how we think about…

Suz: Saturday night services and Sunday, yeah.

Pastor Michael: It’s crazy, we don’t do Saturday night services.

Suz: Yeah, thankfully at our church.

Pastor Michael: Well, until this past Saturday, my goodness. So what’s happening though is when people stop, they reflect. Yaweh, Old Testament, puts in a Sabbath and lets them do almost nothing. You’re just forced to be. To be with Him. To be with people. To be in the synagogue or the temple, wherever you might be. To be with family. To open up Scripture. You’re almost forced to this, but it actually makes you face people. It makes you look them in the eyes. So what God injected into the rhythm of his people has almost been this forced weekly rhythm of stopping that made us just take stock of what was. Unfortunately, there are some families, I would say 98% of them, that haven’t taken stock in years. We’ve just been going.

Suz: I’m even thinking about family dinner.

Pastor Michael: Right.

Suz: That’s not even happening in the Christian church that much anymore.

Pastor Michael: Right. When you think about rhythms and schedules and Moms and Dads working and then just the reality of virtual life allows you to work anywhere, anytime, all the time; we’re seeing that in new phases right now. The Christian is called to be a self-reflecting person. I want to read a passage from 2nd Corinthians Chapter 13 verse 5. The apostle Paul is talking to a fairly dysfunctional church. The Corinthian church had lots of issues.

Suz: They needed guidance.

Pastor Michael: It’s been interesting. It’s been really hard for people, for Christians over the last 2,000 years to figure out what Paul means here specifically, but we know what he means generally. Here’s what he says. ‘Examine yourselves to see whether you’re in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourself that Jesus Christ is in you, unless indeed you fail to meet the test’!

Here’s the point. He’s even talking about look at your life, take stock, test yourself. Put yourself under the magnifying glass. What do you see? Is the spirit in you? Are you doing spiritual things? Do you love God? We don’t know what questions. He didn’t give us a 10 point test where you could fill in the blanks or do a Scantron. We don’t actually know what the questions are that you’re supposed to ask yourself. It’s almost irrelevant at this point. He’s saying basically we’re just a reflective people. I’m reflecting on the state of my heart, on my life. You open up the Psalms and Davids’ approach to meditation and self-reflection, ‘Lord, examine my heart, you know my ways, you know my motivations’. We could just go on and on. I’m going to stop with that part of it now and say you’re probably learning in this time of quarantine about the real state of your marriage. You’re learning whether or not you actually really like your kids.

Suz: Because you’re kind of around them all the time now. You don’t really have a choice.

Pastor Michael: You’re probably, by you I mean you, I, me, all of us, everybody in general. You’re probably realizing whether or not you’ve raised them well.

Suz: Oh, interesting.

Pastor Michael: You’re probably realizing how much of a slob they are. How well they are taking direction. How self-led they are. If they have learning disabilities. That’s a whole other level of compassion that I have.

Suz: Especially for these Moms that are now home schooling. I’ve seen a lot of memes that refer to now you understand that teachers are underpaid. All of these ideas because these parents are doing 5 hours of learning with their kids for middle school. It’s a lot of work.

Pastor Michael: Yep. We could shift gears to Dads. A part of a male mans’ rhythm if the Mom’s at home with the kids; there’s a handful of families who do that still. The Dad’s now at home. Many Dads don’t work from home and now your realizing how easily irritated you are. You’re working on top of each another. You had your own office. You had your own rhythms. You were important in your office maybe. People respected you. You might be on a phone call with a client or your boss or somebody that works for you and your wife’s chiming in over here and your kids are interrupting. They don’t care how important you are. In your home, you’re Dad, you’re husband, you’re just a dude, you know?

Suz: I think we’re finding the things we took stock in, we can’t really take stock in anymore in a quarantine. I take stock in relationship. I get filled up from that. Now I’m not actually able to have people over. I mean anyone who’s actually willing to break the law or the rules. I’m actually going oh, I don’t care which is showing something else about me, right?

Pastor Michael: We’re all judging you right now.

Suz: You can judge me. Judge away.

Pastor Michael: No, you’re all right.

Suz: It is showing for me, the things that I valued the most

Pastor Michael: Correct. I would say this is a great time to take stock and also it’s a great time to hit the reset button because life will go back to normal eventually. When it does, it doesn’t change the real state of things.

Suz: Yes

Pastor Michael: You might get busier, you might get more distracted, you could put it off but I would encourage a couple of things. Number 1, would be create intentional rhythms that prioritize your relationship with God. Number 2, get on the same page with your spouse if you’re married, because you will never ever be able to create intentional rhythms with your children until you and the person whose in your home 24/7 hours a day now with you are unified. Before you even focus on your kids, I mean you have to do stuff with the kids, you have to get school going and doing all the stuff you’re doing, one of the most important things is for you to sit down with your husband or wife and say, let’s just talk. Put yourself in the bedroom. Tell the kids to go away. Tell them you guys just have to talk. You’ve got to work stuff out. On-line counseling. I happen to be married to a counselor who’s moving her entire practice on-line right now.

Suz: Oh, that’s so cool.

Pastor Michael: Those are things, there are amazing people who love you and want to support you. Also though, one of the challenges is she also owns a flower shop so counseling and flowers are considered luxuries so what’s also exposing in many families is your income is going to be massively adjusted almost immediately. That also exposes worry and anxiety and your community and your resources and financial habits.

Suz: But it really does expose for me, it exposes what do I really need. I was telling someone recently we were going to get new blinds. I had this list of all the things I want before the baby comes. I actually made it for my husband and I was like, we’re going to buy this, this and this and this. Some of it is necessary. We had to upgrade the car to have the space, but, we don’t need blinds for the bedroom. Right?

Pastor Michael: Right.

Suz: This type of crisis exposes my actual needs and my desires and wants.

Pastor Michael: Yep. When you’re in any kind of future uncertainty you say no the perks and privileges. That’s normal and good. When there’s excess you’re able to do that and that’s fine. So as a church we had to say, we had to put pause on a $200,000 internal renovation of our kids wing. No one’s in there. You know, we don’t even know when we’re going to get back in there so why are we going to pump $200K into that? That’s a nauseating thought.

The big picture is number 1, your relationship with God. How is your time in the Word? Take time alone. If it has to be at night or before your kids get up, do it. How’s your time with your husband or wife? Do it.

If you’re single, here’s what’s happening. Your addictions are being exposed. So if you’re an alcoholic and nobody knows about it, I’m mean this is anybody but I’m thinking about particularly you may run out of access to the things that you have been addicted to or if it’s a porn addiction then you’re going to be exposed to just you and yourself and there’s no accountability, there’s no where to go, there’s no one to talk to. There’s a lot of downward spirals that I’m expecting by the end of this. There’s going to be a lot of cleanup in terms of souls and relationships and addictions. All that kind of stuff.

Suz: I would say as an encouragement, let it change us for the good. You made me think of…

Pastor Michael: I need to chime in though. Upswing, Michael. Think positive.

Suz: 13 years ago I came back from a 2 month trip to Cairo, Egypt and it was a couple of months in Egypt and it really affected me. When I opened my closet when I got back, I was just overwhelmed with all of the things that I owned. Praise the Lord, He helped me to see that and I emptied out a lot of stuff. Now we’re 13 years later. It’s easy to forget those types of experiences. I would say, let it change you. Whatever that means. For me, I’m realizing that in order to stop worrying I actually just have to keep serving. I want to just keep taking care of Suz and Suzs’ kids and her husband, but I’m supposed to actually be reaching out to these other people and taking care of them. It actually takes my eyes off myself. I need to do this outside of crisis.

Pastor Michael: Amen. It’s interesting because as we’re being exposed, we’re also are being exposed in terms of who we serve most. Here’s just a simple question that I think is really good for most people to ask. Who have you reached out to specifically and made a difference in their life while they’ve been in quarantine? Just one person.

Right before I got here, my daughter was telling me that, I have a list from Mom. I said, what’s your list? She said I need to call 3 people a day. She’s in 6th grade. I was like why are you calling 3 people a day? She says she wants me to keep connected to people and to take care of people. So here’s my 6th grader, right, and all the ladies in my house, except for Via, my middle one, they don’t like phone calls. I mean, thats like, why are you calling people on the phone, right? So she’s connecting with friends. The Facebook Messenger has these really fun, they’re actually a blast, interactive games. So we’re just trying to inject, I didn’t even know Breanne was trying to do that. I was so proud of her. I was like, girl, that was awesome, you know? My time, to be honest is spent almost 24/7 sleeping and getting our church purely digital.

Suz: You’re in work mode right now.

Pastor Michael: I’m hoping that’s a week and half of eh, I’m loosing my mind, and then we can just calm down or whatever. So who, one person, have you reached out to that’s not your Mom and Dad? That’s easy. That’s biological impulse. Who? Your neighbors? Have you talked to them? Have you reached out?

Suz: Two of them.

Pastor Michael: Good job.

Suz: It’s cause I want to see still them. It’s selfish. Like, are you really going to do this?

Pastor Michael: Honestly, all serving to some degree is selfish. We have these biological things inside of us created to make us feel good when we do good things but that’s the genius of God. People don’t get this. They’re like ah, I can’t serve. You’re actually wired to be happier when you give your life away. Gods’ wired it this way. Is it selfish? Eh, to a degree but you’re actually following the rhythms that God has designed in your body so lean into that.

So this time of reflection, it is, it’s a good time to ask questions. Prioritize your soul. Prioritize your marriage. Prioritize then your kids and then the least in your life. Use the digital mechanisms that you have. Redeem the time. I do believe the way I’ve been thinking about my time in this is that I am going to be, I’m going to give an accounting for how I have stewarded my soul. How I’ve stewarded my kids. You know that I’ve been thinking about how to restructure my life so I can prioritize, have more time with my kids. How I’ve stewarded my wife in this and then how I’ve stewarded our church. Those are the things, like, I’m going to be accountable. This is the season where I believe I’m going to be held accountable for how I do things. Now there are some things that come up that honestly say everything needs to go on hold because I have to deal with this thing. It might be in me. It might be my kids. It might be my wife. I don’t know how I’m going to take care of the church and do everything else but I’m going to lean into this thing right here and right now.

Suz: Maybe the widow wondered how she was going to eat next when she gave all she had.

Pastor Michael: Oh my gosh, yeah. That’s so good.

Suz: I’ve just been thinking about that. I’ve been thinking of some of the heroes of the faith like Corrie ten Boom who hid people and I’ve been thinking about people who took people in through the Underground Railroad. Just different scenarios, where these people poured out when it was really uncomfortable, really inconvenient and a huge actual sacrifice. What is Suz willing to do? What are you willing to do? What are we, what are we willing to sacrifice? Is it the food in our deep freezer?

Pastor Michael: We almost did a question in here about hoarding. The answer is just simple. It’s, get what you need and if you have any extra, give it away. If you can, help people out. Right now, again, right now, at the time of this recording, that’s not an issue. People are hoarding, no doubt. Most people have enough. The government is providing meals in different ways so good. But we don’t know how this thing evolves and your test of your ability to love people and trust God for the future, that could be, that could be reality. Whether or not it’s coronavirus, it might be something 50 years from now.

Suz: Totally.

Pastor Michael: So quarantine, here’s the question, is exposing myself and my family. The good and the bad. What do I do with this? Self-reflect. Confess, repent, to the Lord and to people. Create new rhythms that prioritize God, my family and other people. Enjoy this season. It’s different. Redeem it. The anxiety part. That’s the hard one because that’s going to be a huge thing for a lot of people. Lots of anxiety.

Suz: It’s because it’s not physical. You can’t take anxiety and go put it out of the house. Oh, okay, I swept it off the porch. It’s inside of you.

Pastor Michael: The only antidote is to caste your anxiety on the Lord who cares for you.

Suz: Which I think a concrete way to do that, for me, as I’ve shared in a previous episode, I’m going into having a baby. There’s already new stipulations being put on the hospitals regularly. You can’t even have more than 1 more support person at this point. That might change in the next week and a half, I don’t know, two weeks. That’s affecting a lot of pregnant women as they’re going into birth. I’m already talking to people who don’t get to have a doula now and it’s a scary thing. To avoid anxiety for me, the concrete way is to stop actually thinking about the thing that’s going to cause it.

So you and I have talked about how you have this amazing ability to solve problems but think of 10 solutions to 1 problem. Actually, I’m not even allowed to drive there right now with some of my problems because if I start driving in that direction, I get, I get weary and anxious.

Pastor Michael: So what you’re doing right now is evaluating, you’re self-reflecting. People who don’t like to think…

Suz: This is going to be a hard time.

Pastor Michael: Let me close this with saying one big encouragement. It’s a negative encouragement and a positive. Find digital media that you can download and it will help grow you. Avoid becoming addicted to television and movies. That’s my big thing. Substitute. Substitute endless hours of video games and movies with somehow, things that build you up spiritually.

So with that, we’re going to come back. We’re going to answer more questions. We’re not going to tell you what they are, because quite honestly, we don’t know what they are going to be next. Join us next time as we go after more of your questions on the Village Church Q&A podcast.

In This Episode:

Michael Fuelling
Michael Fuelling
Suz MacLeod
Suz MacLeod