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How to Maximize Fall 2021 (Now That The World's A Little More Normal)


What good came out of the global pandemic?

The list might not be long, but 2020 did bring a newfound appreciation for the normal parts of life that we otherwise take for granted.

For me, it was the grocery store. I started to hate going grocery shopping—not because I was afraid of catching COVID, but because the whole apocalyptic vibe was too much.

It took me a while to put my finger on it, but I missed the human interaction. The awkward little smile when you accidentally make eye contact with someone, the “oops, let me sneak past ya real quick” when someone’s blocking the milk, the brief small talk with the cashier as you’re checking out. I would never have listed any of those moments as important or particularly enjoyable in my pre-pandemic world. But I definitely felt their absence.

In an increasingly independent and self-focused world, it’s easy to discount what communal and experiential creatures we are. But the barriers of social distancing, mandatory masks, quarantine, and city-wide lockdowns revealed how hard isolation really is. And how much of our lives pre-COVID relied upon others.

One of the biggest mistakes we can make moving forward is to squander this awareness and gratitude. The pandemic forced us into habits of homebound, fear-induced isolation. Don't let these attitudes define your life as you look into the future.

Even though the pandemic isn't over, the reality is, people are returning more and more to their normal routines. If this is true for you, make a concentrated effort to reincorporate those things—and people!—that you missed.

Below is a list of normal parts of life that you couldn’t do last fall. If you're ready to add them back in, be intentional! Don't take "normal" for granted. 

Listen to Live Music

Columbia has a fun variety of places to listen to live music. And with temperatures cooling down, it’s a better time than ever to get to that outdoor venue you haven’t visited since 2019. Some of my favorites are Rose Park, Cooper’s Landing, and the Pierpont General Store!

Schedule a Coffee Date

“Once this is all over, we’ll have to…” Does that sound familiar? I spent most of 2020 making plans to catch up with friends as soon as “this is all over.” Turns out, the time is now! Don’t put off the people you missed most during the pandemic.

Find Your New Favorite Local Restaurant

During the shutdown, a highlight of the week was ordering take-out from different local restaurants. As great as that was, though, it’s so much better in person. Discover your favorite atmosphere by exploring as many local restaurants as you can.

Worship In Person at Church on Sunday

Watching church from your couch (in your PJs) is great. But do you miss something when you worship exclusively online? God created us as embodied people, meant for embodied community. That means that when Christians gather together in person, we unite together to experience God in worship in ways that can’t happen when we’re apart. The live stream has been a wonderful blessing during the pandemic—and will continue to be so. But if you haven’t come back to church yet, I encourage you to do so this fall!

Organize a Game Night with Your Friends

You had to get creative with how you “saw” your friends during the pandemic. Apps like House Party, virtual happy hours, and socially distanced parking lot hangs helped you stick together through the worst of it. But again, as great as that was, there’s no alternative for piling into a living room and having those laughs in person. 

Invite Your Neighbor to Join You for Dinner

With so much time at home over the last year, your most regular human contact might have become waving to your neighbor. After all, they were stuck at home that whole time too. Don’t let those casual interactions end as life gets busy again. Instead, carry those neighbor relationships forward into your post-pandemic life. Invite the couple next door over for dinner. Or organize a block party for your street. Whatever that looks like for you, capitalize on the community you have right where you live.

Plan a Weekend Trip with Your Family

One perk of 2020 was that busy families enjoyed a break from their packed schedules. Multiple kids in multiple activities mean that “normal” is having something to do every night of the week. Instead, the summer of 2020 had space for family meals, slow weekends outside, and an opportunity to re-connect with one another. You can get that kind of time even in a post-pandemic world! As your schedule fills back up, build in (and protect) intentional family time.   

Enjoy Your Next Trip to the Grocery Store :)

Whatever this fall looks like for you, don’t lose sight of those good things that came out of 2020. Remember what you missed. Hold onto what you enjoyed. And carry that pandemic perspective with you even in the most mundane parts of your life.

After all, God created us to relate to other people. So even in those quick, casual, slightly awkward grocery store interactions, you’re experiencing the communal life God created you for.

We all prioritized our physical health over the last year and a half, but what about our spiritual health? Here are 4 warning signs that show the toll the pandemic might have taken on your faith.