Farmers use a practice called fallowing to increase the amount of production in their harvest per unit of land. If you apply the principles of fallowing in your own life during this time when life as you have known it has been completely interrupted, you can leverage the power of pause to increase the harvest in your life once the world reopens again!
The world as we know it has been completely turned upside down in just a matter of weeks. We initially held to our coveted ideal of business as usual for as long as we possibly could. Then, when it became apparent that the coronavirus was a force to be reckoned with, we reluctantly accepted its terms of engagement. The world paused. No area of life has remained untouched. No demographic is unaffected. No Industry is immune. Business, education, government…every aspect of life has had to accommodate change and adaptation.
At the forefront of the crisis is the health of citizens around the world. The Healthcare profession and corresponding industry has experienced unprecedented levels of pressure and demands. If you are an essential worker, you have been able to maintain employment, which may be minimizing the financial impact of the pandemic, but every other aspect of your life is still on the table.
The personal impact to individuals and families range from isolation from friends and family, to total disruption of work and education routines, to health, or financial crisis. The propensity to feel overwhelmed, fearful, grief and feelings of loss and disappointment is great.
Yet, there is hope in this moment. There are opportunities for you to take advantage of during this time. I do not minimize the severity of this disruption in your life. Things are bad, but you can still thrive. Fallow by definition means inactive. Farmers use fallowing to allow their land to rest and regenerate for a period of time so that when they begin to plant again, their crop yield will be greater in number, but will also be greater in quality.
When farmers choose fallowing, the decision is often driven by forces external to their control: the land requires respite in order to be of maximum use to the farmer. They must make a difficult choice to give up the expectation that they can continue to work the land and produce a harvest, which will then bring in profits.
For the first time in my lifetime, government officials are controlling our ability to move outside of our homes. Little by little the things we never dreamed of going without, have ceased to be available to us. Elements of life that we thought were untouchable and could never stop, did just that. Professional sports—ended. Entertainment/Performance Events — canceled. Churches and places of worship—closed. Schools—closed. Businesses—closed. It seemed only a matter of days before you lost the ability to make any decisions about your livelihood. Really, you couldn’t even be sure of how to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and safe! We’ve had to relinquish the idea of having control.
Thrive: First acknowledge that you are powerless to change the situation. Then, accept that you have no ability to control what’s happening around you, but you can control your response and choose the environment you will set inside of the domain that you can control—your home. When you have a relationship with God, you understand that He is sovereign and in control of your life. Broaden that understanding, stretch your faith and understand that God is still in control in this pandemic. He’s not causing the spread of illness, panic, or fear—some of that is just nature and some is the adversary’s work. To thrive during the pause, surrender your ideals, goals, and expectations to God and rest in the truth that He is in control, and He is with you in the pause.
Fallowing the land allows the soil to replenish important nutrients that support stronger, healthier, and faster crop growth. These nutrients are naturally present in the soil, but the constant planting and harvesting strips the soil and while it still produces a harvest, the harvest is far less nutritious. In other words, depleted soil will produce a carrot that looks like a carrot, and tastes like a carrot, but will actually be providing far less nutritional substance than it was originally designed to provide.
Thrive: Consider yourself as the soil for a moment. Under the constant pressure to fulfill the demands of nurturing your marriage, meeting the needs of your children, fostering community with siblings and friends, and performing to perfect at work, you are constantly churning. As a believer, your source of strength and ability to fulfill these many demands joyfully and effectively is found in your relationship with God. How often does your quiet time, bible study and worship get displaced by these other demands of life? Use the gift of time that has been given to you during the pause (no matter how small it may be) to move closer to God by going deeper in your bible time. Worship to ward off the fear, worry, and anxious feelings so readily waiting to weigh upon you after tuning into the news. Instead of running to the kitchen for comfort foods, or anchoring your body to the couch for endless entertainment with Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ or the like, lace up your sneakers and take a walk, get out and play with the kids, grab a mat, blanket or towel and stretch out with a little yoga. Replenish your inner fortitude, and refill from the inside out. Take a moment to ask yourself, “what is the biggest lesson I’m learning about myself, about my life, about my family, about God…during this moment in time?”
When planting is paused, as during fallowing, the critical elements that help the plant transform energy from the sun to fuel faster growth and healthier plants buildup in the soil. These elements are beneficial not only to plant growth, but to the health of the soil itself, as well as beneficial in promoting a clean environment (ozone protection).
Thrive: Survey the differences in your life on pause: Unless you or someone in the home is an essential worker, your family is home together all day, everyday! Thriving in the pause means counting this as a good thing. So, you either shift mental gears to appreciate that you have a chance to engage your mate and/or your children in new ways, or you dread every moment and find yourself feeling crushed by the burden of having to deal with them (especially the home school piece) daily. If you’ve taken the time to replenish, you can access the energy to reprioritize your life, starting at home!
Now I challenge you to consider your family as the soil: love is inherently present. Acceptance, compassion, patience and grace are all present. Maybe they’ve been stripped by the constant wear and tear of life, but in the pause…ask God what you can do to cultivate these elements? Tap into the power of the Holy Spirit to transform God’s energy into fuel for your marriage, for parenting, for establishing or re-establishing family traditions. Maybe a family devotional period would pump life into the level of intimacy in your family dynamics. Perhaps having meals together each day can elevate communication. Maybe regular game times or some other joint recreation to pass the time will bring out the fun-loving nature of everyone. Reprioritize the important things as God reveals them. As He does so, focus on the things that you can do, then use prayer and trust Him for the things only He can do.
Burying yourself in work, using retail therapy, or fitness therapy (for us gym lovers), leaving the house when frustration sets in, sending the kids to a friend or family member, seemingly all similar methods of copying have been pulled off the table. Even your normal well-adjusted, well-balanced everyday life has been interrupted. Routines and schedules that served you well are no longer an option. So what to do with the time? You’re reconnecting with God, you’re replenishing yourself, you’re reprioritizing within your home and family, now to redirect your energy and efforts.
Thrive: Now that you aren’t squeezing a fitness class between work, school drop-off and pickup, little league, dinner, and the other trillion things that once filled your life daily, what could you be doing with your skills, gifts, talents, and the resources that are available to you? Now, let’s not get overzealous here, life is still on pause. Your energy and efforts, skills, gifts and talents may very well be best put to work in fallowing! Your redirect may just be to relinquish control to God, learn to rest and be replenished in Him, recharge yourself and your family life, and straighten out your life’s priorities. For some though, God may be stirring creativity, drawing you to self development or skill building, or otherwise revealing some solution or change to address a pre-pandemic challenge you’d been struggling with. Similarly, He may be preparing you to successfully handle some post-pandemic opportunity. Seek God for a revelation concerning if and how He would have you to redirect your energy and efforts during this time.
When farmland has had sufficient time fallowing, it is not only prepared to produce more in terms of volume. It is prepared to produce more visually appealing, healthier, increased nutrient dense produce. The soil and the crops are more efficient in using and storing water and nutrients, and ultimately the soil, the crops produced, and the environment as a whole benefits from the harvest.
Thrive: When the world opens again, we will likely be living in a new normal. Right now, the pause presents many challenges and opportunities for adaptation and adjustment. When the green flag is waved and we can recommence living without exposing ourselves or others to health risks, we can be positioned to have a life that doesn’t just look appealing, but we can have a life in which we are deeply rooted in the life-giving presence and power of God. Our produce will look like more resilience, more mental fortitude, more patience, more creativity, more compassion, more gratitude and appreciation, better communication…You fill in a few. Think about the ways in which you will be different when the world opens up again. How will you approach life differently? What will you do differently? How will you impact the new world around you?