Everyone’s talking about a “new normal” when the coronavirus saga is over. But that makes me wonder, so what was the “old normal”? What did we believe in and rely on that we shouldn’t any more?

What will you do when the Covid-19 restrictions get lifted?

Of course, this is going to be a gradual process. But as the restrictions get lifted one by one, we will have more and more freedom to do what we have not been able to do in the past two weeks.

What will you do when that happens? Will you rush down to the first bubble tea shop you can find? Will you head for the nearest fast-food outlet or hawker centre where you can finally eat there and then? Will you make an appointment for that much-needed hairdo? Or will you make a beeline for your favourite mall, knowing that you can finally indulge in some shopping that doesn’t involve home delivery?

I must confess that some of these things came to mind first as I read about the restrictions being lifted. I’ve been looking forward to having an unhurried cup of kopi at my neighbourhood coffeeshop, with some half-boiled eggs and kaya toast, of course. But I realise there’s something I’ve been missing even more—being able to greet someone, give him a smile, and have a little chat . . . not through a mask nor Zoom.

A friend of mine, journalist and author Nicholas Yong, penned a short but wonderfully whimsical piece about what he would do “When All This Is Over”. He writes:

When all this is over, the first thing I will do is take a long, long walk. I will greet everyone I meet along the way and shake their hands, and grab their forearms, and look into their eyes. No more fear in my heart, lurking just beneath the surface. No more social distancing or alternative greetings: I want to talk to people the way human beings are meant to . . .

When all this is over, I will hug the ones I love, and even the ones I don’t. And though it is a miraculous and wondrous thing, I don’t ever want to talk to the people who matter most through a video screen again. Whether they are next door or a million miles away, I will meet them and tell them, face to face, just how much they mean to me. I’ve missed you, I will say. I thought of you every day.

Nicholas has been tracking the whole saga as a journalist. Yet it’s the personal touches that have left the biggest mark on him:

But when all this is over, I know what I will remember most. A bag of groceries left at the door when I was in quarantine and couldn’t leave my flat. A homemade meal delivered to me, just because a friend did not want me to feel all alone. And most of all, the simple text messages saying ‘Just checking in. How are you?’

When all this is over, I will treasure the little things with all my heart. Because it is the little things that make up the big things, and I never want to take them for granted again.

Over the past weeks, we’ve been hearing phrases like, “Life will never be the same again after Covid-19”, or, “There will be a new normal”.

Granted, many of us will be struggling with what this means for us in our daily lives. Perhaps many of us will be working or studying at home more. Perhaps we will have to remember to wash our hands more often. Perhaps we will have to be careful when meeting in large groups—such as in church. We will have to change the way we work, move, and interact with people.

But when the Circuit Breaker finally ends, and when all this is over, what will we do?

In the book of Haggai, God reminds the Israelites that they had neglected God and His house while seeking their own comfort (Haggai 1:2–4). That was why, He said, they never seem to be satisfied with what they did (v. 6). God told them: “Give careful thought to your ways” (v. 5).

When all this is over, will we continue to focus on our own needs, concerns, and desires? Or will we, as Christians, seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness? (Matthew 6:33) Will we be grateful for what we’ve taken for granted and learn to give what we have been receiving? Will we give a passer-by a big smile, visit a lonely relative, buy something for a neighbour in need, and tell them that we miss them and care just as God cares for us?

Lord, thank You for being with me throughout this time. As the restrictions get eased, may I go back to “normal life” with a new perspective of Your heart and a new commitment to put You first in my life—to love You and to love others, just as You have loved me.

Leslie Koh spent more than 15 years as a journalist in The Straits Times before moving to Our Daily Bread Ministries. He’s found moving from bad news to good news most rewarding, and still believes that nothing reaches out to people better than a good, compelling story. He likes eating (a lot), travelling, running, editing, and writing.