When we started Sportsmen's Collective, we did so with the goal of spreading encouragement and positivity during an otherwise bleak time. We want to disrupt the cycle that some of you may be experiencing whether directly or indirectly as a consequence of the global outbreak of COVID-19.
Our goal isn't to offer you a shiny distraction that would serve as a hollow, temporary mollification of your concerns. Instead, our goal is to provide you with uplifting, thoughtfully-created content that will be uplifting to your spirit. Perhaps, we will encourage you (and be encouraged by you) to more effectively use this new-found time we all have to learn something new, rest, develop a new skill or interest, and connect with community around you, though kept apart by the physical barriers of doors closed, and to do so in a deliberate and meaningful way that will cause you to emerge from times, such as these, renewed.
Depending on your locale, your city may be on "shelter-in-place" orders or, simply, orders to work from home and limit non-essential social and life activities. On the onset, I think most of us saw this is as some sort of work "snow day" instead of a serious measure to ensure the integrity of public heath, at large. As our understanding of this outbreak changes, so do our personal measures for controlling our part in the progression of this current affliction.
A quick note before we proceed. I'm not here to debate the severity of the outbreak of COVID-19 or to discuss the appropriateness of our country's response to it, or to discuss what measures I think you should take to protect yourself from it, etc. Those are your decisions to make. I will say that I feel that the attitude by some in the outdoor community has been to downplay how serious this is to the point of satire. I don't feel like that is particularly fair. Most that I've seen make such comments are not individuals who live in work in the city or aren't people who work a full time job AND devote so much of the personal time and ambition to the outdoor space as a "side-hustle" (to be hip with the times.) These individuals represent a very small subset of the greater community with whom I've interacted, but I hope that they can shift they way that they see these current circumstances.
There are those who don't "believe" in COVID-19 from a public-health perspective. I am here to say that, irrespective of whether or not you see this as a public-heath emergency, you should still see that the global response to this has created an increasingly unstable economy. As such, there are very real realities which have come about. Ask the mother and father, who work hourly, who have been told to stay home from work and have three children to look after if this is "real." I think the answer will be a resounding "YES!"
Now… on to the rest..
For those of you not fortunate enough to live out in the country or have a job which will, reliably, take you out to far-away places, you may find yourself completely surrounded by people but, paradoxically, alone without the feeling of genuine community. This physical isolation can quickly lead you down a path of deeper emotional isolation as the lack of physical proximity with others draws yourself inward, further still from others.
Take heart. In this or any season of life when things are uncertain, my response is to lean on my faith and my incredible wife, Liz. I don't know how to look at these times through any other lens and my faith as a Christian. For those of you who are not Christians, I hope you'll continue reading. I think that you'll find that if you cannot agree with my Christianity, you'll still agree, in principle, with the words of encouragement which I will now try to bring to you. It is in this moment when I am particularly contemplating Philippians 4:8 which says,
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things."
Slowing down and pausing to "think on these things" has always brought me a great deal of peace in uncertain times and motivates me, keeps me focused, and grounded by my faith. This passage (through a command, utilizing the imperative voice…"think") impresses upon us to seek the light any situation by which the Lord, through Christ, redeems every situation. This isn't clinging to platitudes or throwing out the "Sunday School" answer of "well all things work out for the good."
While it is true that all things work out for our good (Romans 8:28,) in the moment, this doesn't always offer a lot of temporal peace and can (especially to those who may not be Christians) appear that we are completely out of touch with reality. Certainly not! I understand that there is real hardship during this time. However, I know that dark will not triumph over the light and that you should be encouraged that Jesus will not let darkness have the last laugh in these or any moment as he redeems even these turbid times.
Prior to the breakout of COVID-19, there was a proliferation of social media posts and conversations that we saw and heard about time, or rather lack thereof. You know the posts or conversations with people where someone tells you how busy they are and there's a part of you that feels like you're missing out or that you're not as important since you're not as busy as that person is. I'm learning to be grateful for all have, now, to breathe and to hit the PAUSE button. As my wife said a few weeks ago prior to this, "I feel like the whole world just needs a nap." Hopefully, the cultural phenomenon and praise of "busy-ness" has been struck a blow.
Whatever is True: II Timothy 1:7 "for The Lord did not give us a spirit of timidity but of power and love and self-discipline"
This requires little explanation. This will pass. The Lord did not make us a fearful people but has empowered us with his grace, love, and self-discipline. In light of that, face today with the knowledge that Jesus has already redeemed it through his death on the cross for us.
Whatever is Pure: Time with family and the joy that comes with it.
Over the last week or so, I've seen more families walking in the neighborhood, children playing, and father's out throwing the ball with their son or daughter than I ever have in recent memory. I look out my window and see full driveways and full houses. Families are getting more time, and so much of it unstructured, with each other of these last few weeks alone than (I'd wager) all of holidays and summer break combined. Consider the nature of the time.
Unlike summer, weekends, and holidays when the family is "together," you don't have the same sort of highly structured, meticulously planned scheduling where the family is scattered about, busy with activities, social obligations, and work. This time is really different. All confined at our homes, for our own good (or out in the woods hunting, fishing, or just getting some fresh air) we are forced to spend time together because the "busy-ness" of the world cannot, for now, jerk us in twelve different directions.
I realize that the above scenario may not describe your scenario. That notwithstanding, it's just one example of folks making the best of a situation and choosing to dwell in the present with one another. I hope you'd see this as an opportunity for you recharge your batteries, work on those special projects you've been wanting to work on, or to get out and hunt, fish, or get some air.
Whatever is Lovely: Create.Write.Do
Since you're, likely, not having to get up as early to get ready for work and not having to commute to and from work, and even if you are still working a full 8+ hour work day, you've just been gifted another 3-4 hours of time every day! While Netflix might have taken up that time for a few days (let's be real,) I believe that we are created to desire so much more than entertainment. There is something in all of us that has the desire to create and connect. Use this time for self-reflection to refocus your creative pursuits.
Lately, I've seen and taken part in sharing other Instagram accounts, that we enjoy, and highlighting particular posts that we admire. I've been exposed to so many more accounts and it's shown me that I've been rather waterfowl-centric in my photography and writing. There's so much more out there to see, to learn about, and hopefully to be a part of. I've seen other photo challenges for people to dig up their best action shot. I've seen others where people have challenged each other to do the best sketch of a duck on their Instagram story. It's silly, right? But it's creativity and connectivity. Have a good idea? Start a challenge with your friends or give yourself a personal goal of developing your technical skills in photography (or whatever your pursuit is.) Your subject might not be what you're used to but expand your horizons.
Try something new! The work-from-home or shelter-in-place orders (as I understand it) don't preclude you from going out into the outdoors. I was only recently discussing this with Adam Pecht, another member of the Sportsmen's Collective (and I hope I don't steal your thunder here, Adam so apologies in advance) that since some of his other plans had changed suddenly, that he's decided to try something new and dive into turkey hunting this season in Colorado.
Whatever is Honorable… Commendable… Just… Worthy of Praise: Get Involved in Your Community
There are people in your communities who have a lot more to worry about than how they are going to fill their spare time…
Consider the homeless people in your community who are at risk because of pre-existing conditions or struggling to gather enough money for their meals since fewer people are out and about.
Consider the children in your communities who depend on their school for breakfasts, lunches, or snacks provided by the school as a key part of their daily food. With so many schools shut down, there are children without a readily available access to a sustainable food source. Reach out to churches, the local boys and girls club, and other philanthropic organizations in your area to see how you can help. It might not be your physical presence but your financial contributions can help provide the means for those serving these communities directly to continue to provide such services.
Consider that there are elderly people who have been scared to death by the 24-hour news cycle and are afraid to leave their houses for any reason to get food, etc. While some stores have opened up special hours for these groups, there may still be need in your community. Even if it is as simple as helping someone set up click-list at Kroger or car-side pick up at Target. There are ways that you can still help while "flattening the curve."
Yes, there is trouble. Yes, there is uncertainty. It is these time where the goodness and surety found in the Lord serves as a beacon to the vessel of your spirit and ensures safe passage through such times. So what should you do? Start with thinking on these things…
Would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below and let's talk!
Thank you! I look forward to connecting with you! I'll do my best to get back with you in a timely manner!