Professional and personal boundaries are also blurred during this pandemic time in small and not-so-small ways:
- We get to see inside people’s private homes and offices on Zoom calls. This Global Health expert has an electric guitar on her wall. Anthony Fauci collects baseballs. (Not surprisingly) Martha Stewart has a really nice espresso machine and (surprisingly) a dog that sheds like crazy. Would someone please interview Phoebe Waller Bridge from her London flat? Or Cynthia Erivo? Fun game you can play at home: who has a Bible on their bookshelf? In a world in which it is not okay to peep through somebody’s windows, it is okay to check out their private space online.
- Work/Home lines are definitely blurred during this time of home quarantine, if we are fortunate enough to have jobs and be able to work from home. I can turn off my Zoom video and eat a sandwich while the rest of the committee talks. I can bake a quiche during a staff meeting. And I can answer emails after 10 pm if I want. (Actually that was always true.) My therapist recommends that I shut down work at 5 and not look at it again until the next morning, and I wasn’t even good at that pre-COVID. In a world where it’s not okay to wear pjs to the office, now it’s perfectly fine to wear them all day with an appropriate shirt.
- After beloved pastors leave our church to go to another church, we can still see them in worship every Sunday via YouTube and Facebook Live. It’s like they never left! In a world in which former pastors sign separation agreements to refrain from offering pastoral care after they leave us, it’s now okay to watch them preach every Sunday.
Clear boundaries are essential in any organization and yet those boundaries might be forever altered post-pandemic. Many people plan to continue meeting via Zoom. Many congregations plan to offer online worship long after a vaccine is available. And it’s increasingly difficult to fully separate from the relationships we enjoyed in previous workplaces.
We face the adventure of figuring all this out in the coming years. I see the creation of new boundaries that maintain appropriate roles and norms AND allow for more permission-giving and fluidity.
This is a good thing if we take on the attitude that this is a time of creativity and courage. As a person who wears eyeglasses, it’s a little scary when the world looks blurry. But if we help each other and ask for holy guidance, we’ll continue to move in the right direction.