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  • Katie Smith


Few people can sit in a cell for an extended period of time without coming out changed- some for better, and some for worse. Many people feel their current places of rest are now walls of prison thanks to sheltering in place guidelines. They are chained to their computer calls, leashed to their children's educational outcome, or simply slaves to anxious fear.

Some inmates exchange their jumpsuits for their old garments left at the door, while others become new citizens with new resolve in a new wardrobe. Likewise there are plenty of holocaust survivors that hid away in attics or basements or worse for much longer than our current crisis, but they have changed their grief to grace. Their claustrophobic tendencies transformed to fearless security.

On the other hand, there will always be some who hold on to bitter roots refusing to change, expecting the world to become better without their own introspection. Often if we look closely at ourselves, we will feel pain or stings that require medical (and spiritual) attention, yet that sting means the medicine is cleaning the wound. Without pain, we wouldn't know when to run from fire. We may keep sitting in our cells long after it was time to walk out.

Today a few understand the sweetness of slowdown. A few look for beautiful ways to help the helpers. But sadly, many exchange freedom for fear, which the book of Romans speaks perfectly towards in chapter eight. Since the beginning, the world has been subjected to frustration and suffering, but not by the will of the one who created it. But, our frustration exists to liberate us to greater freedom, just as an ex-convict experiences after significant jail time. We don't have to return to the things that once frustrated us because we know a new God-given strength, God-given perspective, and God-given heart from our time behind bars.

Healing will certainly come one way or another, just as death comes to us all, but how we handle the "after" determines our future. Holocaust survivors lived through hiding, hurt, and horrors, yet like many prisoners, they kept going because they lived in hope. Our quarantine crises feels new and unprecedented, but it is no different from the heart of war that has come to many before us. When we prepare our hearts for the unknown, we don't return to slavery because we have become persons of freedom in our rightful identity. The walls around us don't determine our hope. Rather, what we do during those days behind walls determines our outcome.


For those currently working while teaching your young ones, may I offer encouragement as a mother and educator....

1. Remember that a few months under your tutorship will not determine their lifelong vocation.

2. You may be exercising muscles in yourself and your kids that needed to be stretched, but we are at the end of the school year. The finish line is in sight. Don't quit!

3. It may be that those elementary truths of respect for authority needed to be recalled and reiterated as you sit in position of teacher and principal now.

4. Learning should be fun, but there are always classes, teachers, and subjects that we all had to "get through." Find new ways to laugh even through the hard moments.

5. You may be discovering a new side of your student that needed your attention. It may be that your own vocation is being called to change in the best interest of your child, even if just for a time.

6. This will not last forever, nor will your time with your kids.

7. Rotate schedules and get up really early (or stay up really late if your a night owl) in order to have certain days that feel freer and easier than others.

8. Draw specific lines in the sand for boundaries of screen-time, alone-time, and communal-time.

9. Don't tell little boys to go "find something to do." If they aren't prone to come up with their own "safe" imaginary activities, you'll end up with a bigger mess to deal with when you've finished your work. It's often easier to do the hard work of coming up with their optional fun activities before their free time begins.

10. Everyone needs fresh air, every day. It does us all real good to take some deep breaths and do a passeggiata every single day!

I applaud you. I learned after my second son that I couldn't and shouldn't work outside our home. Hang in there. You're amazing!


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