Road Trip: Keeping Your Sanity During Quarantine

When the pressures of the quarantine began taking a toll on our marriage, religion and sanity, my wife and I did the only sensible thing: we took a road trip.

A road trip is a statement of freedom and adventure and requires a vehicle that matches.

I’m cheap by nature and didn’t want to spring for a rental but Pam’s pickup truck with the Clemson sticker or my 2008 Highlander just didn’t seem right. A road trip is a statement of freedom and adventure and requires a vehicle that matches.

So I bit the bullet and rented a bright red Ford Mustang convertible with leather seats, a loud sound system and an engine that you could hear coming from a mile away. Then we packed a picnic lunch, took clothes warm enough to keep the top down and got out of town as quick as we could.

The day was crisp, the sun was bright, and we spent hours wandering down long country roads without an agenda or schedule. I remember driving around Saluda then into the endless peach orchards surrounding Johnston. We found a park in Edgefield that was perfect for a picnic.

Winding our way further west we cruised by Lake Strom Thurmond and stopped for a snack in McCormick. “How about we head over to Greenwood?” Pam asked. “Why not?” I said.

We made the northerly loop that took us through Greenwood before turning southeast towards home. Highway 178 is filled with beautiful farms and we enjoyed watching goats in several pastures along the way. People who raise goats tell me they’re crazy animals that can’t be trusted but from a distance they looked safe enough, like small cows but not as dull.

We took a break from it all and rested in one another, the beauty of nature and the thrill of the open road.

We made it home around dark, windblown and tired but refreshed. For the hours we were on the road, the worries of COVID-19, the strains of the weeks of isolation and the ongoing leadership concerns for family and church were the furthest things from our minds. We took a break from it all and rested in one another, the beauty of nature and the thrill of the open road. A cynical pastor once told me, “Church can only do so much for you. Sometimes you need a muscle car.” While I don’t endorse his theology, our road trip confirmed his wisdom.

One of my previous blogs has more practical applications on how to find spiritual renewal in your getaway times.

There’s no shortage of problems and concerns right now—and most (but not all) of them are real. The COVID-19 pandemic has spawned not only a medical crisis but also economic and political ones as well.

How can I keep my sanity during this quarantine?

The funny thing, though, is how the number one concern I hear about as pastor of a large, diverse congregation is as simple as it is clear: How can I keep my sanity during this quarantine?

People who ask me that question don’t mean “sanity” in a clinical sense, as though they’re about to be committed to an institution. They mean it in the more general sense of keeping their spiritual, emotional and mental balance through the disruptions and disappointments of this season of life:

Men and women forced to work from home instead of the office.

Moms and dads trying to figure out how to teach their children’s school lessons at home.

High school graduates missing their graduation ceremony.

Senior adults who are isolated and alone.

Pastors struggling with the challenges of leading their churches.

Small business owners trying to keep their businesses afloat.

The Jesus we trust for our salvation is the same Jesus we can trust for our provision

There’s no simple answer to the challenges we’re facing right now, but those who live by faith are convinced of two things: one, the Jesus we trust for our salvation is the same Jesus we can trust for our provision; and, two, the best thing we can do when life gets hard is get back in touch with him.

Which is why Pam and I took our road trip. Not to run away from our problems, ignore them or be irresponsible, but to take a breather and step out from under the pressure for just a little while in order to get back into balance. The fresh air, the blue sky, the thrill of the ride were more refreshing than anything else we could have done.

The Lord speaks to us in the middle of pain and confusion; but his voice often has a sweeter tone in those moments when our minds are less encumbered–it’s the difference between a shout and a whisper.  That’s what the Bible is getting at when it says, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

People try different ways of keeping their sanity through this quarantine. Some cook. Others work in their yards or do those home repairs they’ve been putting off. Others watch Netflix. I even heard an NPR report about a Facebook group that meets online to howl at the moon—not sure what that’s about.

The important thing is to remember that whatever way you settle on to restore your balance and, yes, keep your sanity, allow the Lord to speak through it into your heart. Be creative. Find the time. Do something outside your comfort zone so that you can reclaim His promise to you that no matter what changes around you, His love for you never will.

Just don’t try to rent that red Mustang–I may need it again.

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2 thoughts on “Road Trip: Keeping Your Sanity During Quarantine”

  1. Mike,
    You have found my way of unwinding and unloading. Kim and I will load up in my Triumph TR-6 and head for the forgotten highways and back roads. We really try our best to “get lost”. There is something medicinal about driving with the top down on a beautiful day enjoying God’s creation.
    From an old friend….Tom Freeman

    1. Always great to hear from you…I’m so jealous of your TR-6! I was in McDonough yesterday visiting Dad. One of these days I’d love to catch up with you

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