I had a dream the other night. I’m told that we dream every night, and that it’s really a matter of whether or not we remember those dreams. I usually don’t remember any. But I started praying to remember my dreams…. I can’t help but feel like there’s something sacred about the thoughts we think when we’re at our freest, with the fewest distractions. But I digress.

In this dream, I got called to pastor a church. A traditional, established church with over 150 years of history. When I type it out, I recognize that this sounds beautiful, and like an honor. Because it is, and it should be. But if you know me… you know that dream tugs on my largest insecurities. I’m a little unpolished. I’m rough around the edges. I ask too many questions, I question too many traditions, I’m a bit too much of a provocateur for a lot of traditional settings. But in this dream… they sought me out anyway.

This pandemic has made a lot of people, groups, and organizations step out of their comfort zones. “Because that’s the way we’ve always done things” has proven to be an inadequate means of survival when the environments in which we’ve always done things begin to change quicker than anticipated.

But it has also left a lot of individuals plenty of time for self-reflection.

When I dreamt that dream, it almost felt like a Jonah moment for me. “God, why would you call me to that church? They’ll never accept someone like me!” And just like Jonah, I wasn’t allowed any peace until I let God work on me.

There exists a possibility that, in the past 30 years of formation, God has made me the man I am today for reasons beyond making me a minister/prophet of whatever stature I happen to be. It’s possible that I was made this way in service to the divine. It’s possible that many of the reasons I assumed the traditional church would reject someone like me are the things that God gave me to make available to them.

But this was all a dream. It didn’t happen.

What HAS happened is me being home with my three children around the clock for nine months (and counting) straight. And that has been the biggest trial for me during this pandemic.

I recognize that this isn’t foreign for some people. Many people home school their children for years. And I respect those people. But I am not one of those people, and that is not an accident.

I did not envision having my three school-aged children in a confined space with me for such an extended period of time. It has shown me the limits of my patience, the dangerous potential of my anger, and my propensity to shut down. It has shown me some of the biggest cracks in myself as both a husband and father.

It has shown me my need for grace.

So, in order to honor the title of this post that I absolutely came up with before I wrote it and should probably change but won’t because I’m stubborn, here are the three biggest lessons I’ve learned during the pandemic:

1) Sometimes, surviving is enough.
Some of us put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be trailblazers and crush it every single day. And that’s fine. But sometimes… just making it is enough. My Lord and Savior once taught his disciples to ask for their daily bread when they prayed. Sometimes, we need to pray for just enough to get by.

2) Grace is a two way street.
I’ve been irritable a lot during this pandemic. I don’t have my typical quiet times, and children require a level of attention that I didn’t imagine having to supply for such extended periods of time past the age of four. A lot of people want the schools opened for the kids. That’s cute. I want the schools back open for me.

But I’m still an okay-ish guy at heart, and my kids already gave me all that “world’s greatest dad” stuff, so they’re gonna have to work with me a little bit.

However, because my kids didn’t ask for this pandemic anymore than I did… I owe them the same grace and patience I need them to give me. Except even more so. Because they’re kids, and I’m grown. And I ought to know better.

My Lord and Savior also taught his disciples to pray to have their trespasses forgiven as they forgave those who trespassed against them.

3) Invest in your peace.
I’ve had to take varied approaches to keeping it together. Sometimes that means I lay in bed a little longer. Sometimes that means I go for a jog.

It always means that I pray, and that I spend more time in my Bible (even if I did switch up my routine, but that’s another post for another day), and that I spend time documenting my thoughts in my journal. I have to be intentional about the activity of my mind. It’s one of the ways I track my mental health.

At the end of every one of my journal entries, I write a short prayer. That practice helps me remember where I’ve chosen to place my hope.

Because my Lord and Savior also taught his disciples to pray to that the kingdom, the power, and the glory all belonged to God.

We do not have any evidence to support the idea that Jonah enjoyed his time in the great fish. What we DO have is evidence that Jonah’s time in the fish helped reorient his time towards a God whose plans for him went beyond his own perception. And so, during this pandemic, I’m trying to listen to the God who sees beyond the moment.

What are some lessons you’ve learned during this pandemic? Leave a lesson or two in the comments!