There is a statment I’ll often make when I’m confronted by some technological problem which took me a bit to figure out.
“I wonder what normal people do?”
The answer is, often, “They call someone like me 1.”
Then the pandemic washed over the country in March and I came to realize just how relevant that question was. Pastors all across my social sphere, and teachers across my wife’s, were thrown into a world they’d always been able to keep out of reach 2. All of the sudden they needed to understand how things like streaming worked, what “premiering a video” meant, and had to figure out the best angle to place their iPhone so they weren’t looking up people’s noses all the time. They took crash courses on lighting, and thought about the concept of what sound sounds like for the first time in their lives. They tried to teach, to communicate, and keep their communities together as best they could in a literal nightmare scenario.
I flipped the page and switched over to a daily morning devotional stream for ABCNJ and a Sunday morning talk show thingamabob for Central. There were hiccups, sure 3, but for the most part I was ok. My rhythm was frustrated, to be sure, because there were suddenly five people in the house at all times and Bump wanted to play, but I wasn’t panicking about the processes though which I’d get things done. It was a rare moment in my adult life when the world turned into my lane.
This isn’t to say it’s been all cotton candy and unicorns. The first two months of the Pandemic wiped me out emotionally, and I limped through the third month on fumes. But, even with the oddness of life continuing to nag at my psyche 4, I’m still driving in my lane. And, because so many other people are trying to come into my lane, I feel as though I have more permission to experiment with different ways to doing “church things.” I was able, for example, to run a alt-Bible study over zoom and have begun a live stream dealing with creativity and spirituality. I’m able to lose myself a bit in working out the technological and creative processes which are necessary in pandemic-land, which is a welcome respite.
But the thought always comes back to me, “What do normal people do?”
See, wrestling with technological and communications needs is my world. It’s where I live. Because of this I find working through the specific issues of pandemic-land to be an escape from the difficulties of life at present. For folks who have not lived in this world, dealing with all these issues is a reminder, again and again and again, that the world is not right at present. And if I’m feeling the burden of pastoring in pandemic land, even though the world is literally steering into my lane, I imagine a lot of “normal folks” may be near a melt down.
For me, this means my bizarre calling as a geek-pastor means I need to offer as much support and encouragement as I’m able 5. I’m doing a lot of pastoring by providing tech support right now 6. And that’s good, it’s a gift I have to share 7.
For other folks, let me say this. If you’re disappointed in your pastors, teachers, school administrators, bible study leaders, book club coordinators, or chair of your lawn-mower drill team because you haven’t been as connected as you feel you deserve in pandemic land—please understand the stress you’re feeling is magnitudes greater for anyone in a position of leadership. Not only do they have to navigate the hazards of pandemic-land, they are struggling with the radical new needs 8 this world has hoisted upon them. Give them space to figure it out, six months is nothing when folks are literally learning how to navigate a new world in a way that helps others move forward.
Remember to breathe, and we’ll all be fine. And I’ll get used to the added traffic. Eventually.
- The other common answer is, “They put it down the offending device and forget they have it. Complaining about it on Facebook is assumed in any case. ↩
- Whether or not they should have done that is another question. I have opinions. ↩
- Mostly dealing with normal people who were suddenly asked to live in my native mental space. ↩
- And the election isn’t helping. ↩
- More than normal. ↩
- And some of this is even for folks in Central. ↩
- Even if I hate traffic. ↩
- Again, I have opinions about how “new” this is, but I’m not normal. ↩