Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 22, 2020

Find the Upside of Downtime


We are living through an unprecedented period in the history of the human race. Who could have imagined that a virus would force the population of the entire planet into some measure of quarantine. The current Covid-19 social distancing measures have undoubtedly interrupted the rhythm of our respective lives.

Social distancing is more accurately physical distancing — something that is hard for most of us. Having to stay home is tough. Perhaps the worst part of it all is dealing with some degree of boredom. After all, there is only so much binge watching or game playing or other stuff that distracts us that we can do to pass the time.

Downtime can result in boredom and boredom scares a lot of people. That’s why we always keep our prescriptions of anti-boredom filled. These pills keep us in constant motion and engagement. Staying busy, we have found, is the most common antidote to boredom. As long as we can keep doing and going and engaging then we can keep boredom at bay.

For many, the current social distancing measures have resulted in financial strain and worry due to job loss or furloughing. For all of us, we must mark time, pass the time, and patiently wait until the planet returns to its normal rotation. So, what can we do to embrace the boredom and make the most of the forced downtime that we all must endure?

Here is my personal list of some of the intentional things I am doing to find the upside of downtime:

Read | I am reading. These days have given me the opportunity to read and to absorb new material and ideas while dealing with less distractions. Turning off the television and instead turning the page of a book is a great way to redeem the time.

Reflect | Reflection is one of the things that easily gets crowded out when I find myself as busy as a bird in a hurricane. However, the current slower-paced season has provided me with time to think deeply about things, especially Scripture, so that I can in turn live wisely.

Research | In addition to my blogs, I maintain my Bible Teaching Notes website. I try to do exegetical research on selected Scripture passages on a regular basis. I have more time to do that now.

Return | The current slower pace of life has given give me the opportunity to return to or to revisit back-burner ideas. Because the work of our missions ministry is so extensive, I like to map my thoughts to consider different scenarios for particular initiatives. These visual mind maps are helpful in considering how to move some of these initiatives to the front burner.

Record | I am very intentional about holding myself accountable for thinking deeply about something of importance every day and recording my thoughts. Some of these thoughts become blog material. Others remain in my personal journals. But regardless, the current season of downtime offers good opportunities for reflecting and recording personal thoughts.

Reach | I am in constant contact with our local ministry partners. I try to text or call many of them daily to stay abreast of what is happening and how we can help them to be more effective in assisting people in need. In some cases this means leaving the house to purchase food or to deliver necessary items.

Rejoice | It’s easy to complain about any and every thing during downtimes, but it does not do any good. I prefer to find something to rejoice about. This is a great time to send encouraging notes and texts to others or to check on neighbors. Doing this is helping me to stay focused on how God uses the kindness of others to bless and sustain me.

Rest | I have found this to be a good time for me to embrace silence and solitude and to use these quieter moments to remember all the ways in which God has blessed me. This kind of rest and reflection can revitalize and refresh us.

Release | Trusting God is the best antidote to the anxiety of the day. This season of downtime is giving me opportunities to release anxieties and commit my cares to the Lord. Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still” — literally “let your hands drop” in order to “know He is God.” Sadly, we often miss out on much that God wants us to know about Him when we complain because we are stuck in the mire of downtime. When things slow down, learn to let your hands drop so that you don’t miss out on what God wants to teach you about Himself.

Resharpen | Ecclesiastes 10:10 cautions us, “If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.” When I was in Boy Scouts I learned the importance of taking the time to sharpen my axe. Life’s downtimes provide the best opportunities for us to “sharpen the edge” so that we can be even more effective when the pace of life picks up once again.

Responsibility | I remind myself daily that I am ultimately responsible for what I do with and in this season of downtime. Each of us can choose to do nothing, to cast blame on others, to lament that we have nothing to do, or take the initiative to redeem the time. As for me, I choose to make the most of the opportunity to grow in new ways by looking for the upside of downtime. I hope you will too.


Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing

  2. Great words Omar! Thanks as always for the encouragement!


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