Feeling a need to break out of the monotony of stay-at-home rules during the pandemic? Try these ideas.
By Dennis Rainey
It’s Day 50 of the Covid-19 quarantine, and Barbara and I have grown weary of cable news, movies, and sports reruns (actually I’ve only watched a piece of one that was from a World Series shortly after Columbus discovered America in 1492, but it was entertaining. It was the Pirates versus the Indians). We have enjoyed American Idol … some great talent this year. And we admit that we’ve enjoyed “going to church” online, wearing our PJs and sitting on the couch together listening to some really great sermons.
The good thing is: WE ARE NOT RETIRED! We are on a mission, continuing to encourage individuals, marrieds and families to pay attention to their souls and relationship with God and one another. I told Barbara about three weeks ago, I can’t imagine being retired and not being missional and having a purpose.
Still … we’ve found we have to work at getting out of the “ruts” we form. I love the sign once found beside the Alaskan Highway: “Choose your rut carefully. You’ll be in it for the next 200 miles.” The COVID-19 Pandemic and sheltering in place has created a whole new set of deep ruts.
So how are you doing? Despite your efforts to make your rut as comfortable as possible, are you feeling the need to break out?
It may be time for a game. No, not a board game, but a game, sort of, that I played as a teen.
Double dare acts of foolishness
In those days, back before the Earth’s crust hardened, there was always a daredevil, risk-taking friend who would attempt to coax, goad or shame me into some hideous, high-risk act or adventure. Some were pretty challenging, like jumping off a 60-foot bluff into a lake/river … or devising and executing a prank on a friend, a schoolteacher. These were called a “dare,” and if it was highly extreme it would become a “I double dare you!” act of foolishness.
I’ll share one such “double dare” because the statute of limitations has run out after more than 55 years. One night I was with a group of my buddies who had some excess “cherry bombs” and “bulldogs,” which were basically legal explosives made available for the 4th of July primarily for teens who had too much time on their hands and too little common sense in their heads. (Those steroid “juiced” fire crackers really were fun, but now that I’ve finally emerged into adulthood, I’m glad they are now illegal.)
Late that night we were cruising by a buddy’s house and one of the guys threw out a “Double Dare” challenge … “What if we stick the fuse of the cherry bomb in one end of a cigarette and light the other end, and place it in our buddy Kerry’s mailbox?” And to add a little additional adventure, a couple of other mailboxes in the neighborhood. It was midnight and no one was awake … but that was about to change!
So we did the deed. And we high tailed it out of that neighborhood back home, 10 miles away.
Kerry later told us that one cherry bomb went off, then another … lights started coming on in the neighborhood … and the police arrived at the scene of the crime.
Actually I confess, I’m ashamed that I was a part of that stupidity. But you’ve likely done some things too, so give me some grace, like Jesus did!
Some good double dares
A double dare can also be used for something good, like I am about to do with you…you may need a double dare to get you out of your rut. Here are a few:
1. I double dare you to call a coworker that you don’t get along with and ask how they are doing. It’s likely their phone has been surrounded by crickets because you aren’t the only one who struggles with not liking them. Bless those who curse you! (1 Peter 3:8-9). Call ‘em!
2. The next double dare is kind of a multiple choice because you’ve got a lot of different ways you could go. Speak your spouse’s love language and do a double heaping of love on her or him. It might be good to be reminded of what communicates love to your spouse. Gary Chapman’s bestseller The Five Love Languages unpacks them, but here’s a quick hit list in case you don’t know what your spouse’s love “language” is:
Words of affirmation … Write a note—and no, you cannot tweet or send an email. Compose a handwritten note that lists 3-5 things that you most appreciate about your spouse and mail it. Or read it to your spouse over dinner in front of the kids, or in private. Pray and ask God to give you the words that your spouse needs to hear.
Quality time … Invite your spouse to a quality time adventure, a walk together for 20-30 minutes once a week. Dare you extend the invitation to 3-5 times a week? What will you talk about? Here are a couple conversational log jam busters: “Name two or three people you admire, and explain why” … “If the house or apartment caught on fire (and everyone was out), what two or three things would you most like to save, and why?” And one more: “What are your three greatest needs right now?” Don’t be afraid of silence, your spouse may be a slower processer than you are. Be patient.
Gifts … Go big or small on Amazon. Think about your spouse and reflect on what kind of gift would most encourage him/her. Maybe it’s the gift of a drive in the country. Flowers work great and if you can afford to have them delivered, that an extra touch. Write a great note that is delivered with them.
Acts of service … Go double big and help your spouse in the yard or garage for a full day. Have some fun with it and “invite” (a cleverly disguised command/order/threat) your children to help, if that works with social-distancing guidelines in your state. Years ago, after Barbara expressed repeatedly that she’d like my sons and me to build her a rock pathway, we finally did it over one weekend, when she was on a retreat. I can’t recall if the girls helped … I doubt it! But that rock-lined path is still there nearly 30 years later … I know, because Barbara and I just took a walk on that pathway and collected more rocks for yet another rock tribute for her.
Physical touch … Hold hands. Get out of your fave chairs and sit next to one another as you watch a movie. Give your spouse a hug that says, “I value you and love you.” Or kiss that lasts significantly longer than a millisecond! Or a foot massage. Hey, it’s spring maybe consider lighting a fire in the fireplace and another in bedroom, not a literal fire, but … well, you get the point.
Which one is your spouse’s love language? Double down on a double dare!!
3. “Rally the Troops” Mission Impossible: Take the whole family along for an outside cleanup day or half day for a single-parent mom or a widow. Or perhaps take a Saturday to pick up trash at one of your children’s schools. If you don’t know someone, call your pastor for a couple of names of people who need help. TRIPLE DARE: Take a bag of groceries or goodies for the kids to help deliver.
4. Create a purge campaign! Run a contest to see which room or closet (perhaps it’s the garage) that most needs a purging! Then lead everyone in rolling up their sleeves to sort through stuff to go to Goodwill or to the garbage can. Pry the “hoarder’s” hands off those “meaningful” relics and help them pitch it into the dumpster.
Barbara has helped me in the past with my desk at home. And here it is again desperately in need of being cleaned out, cleaned up and re-organized. I’ll get there, but I’m not-so-secretly hoping that she’ll come help me go through each drawer and make decisions to toss all kinds of memorabilia and junk. The hardest will be going through two file drawers that look like they are pregnant. I’m going to do 15 sit-ups and pushups every day for a week before physically attacking those two drawers.
5. Team up with five other families who will honor the six-foot distancing and offer to feed nurses and doctors as they get off their shift, or have food like Chick-fil-A delivered to the floor of the hospital that needs it most. You’ll need to do a little prep work and problem solving, to make sure this can be done; some hospitals may not allow it.
All these ideas are rooted in the command of Hebrews 10:24 to “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works … ” Hebrews 10:24 is a very good double dare!
And don’t over think this. Just choose one (or lead your family in picking one) and have some fun. If you do, you are going to have some fun that isn’t illegal! And if you do a double dare that was especially a rut buster, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what happened.
Dennis “Double Dare” Rainey
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