Don’t Distance, Socially
Friends – this entry is being written in the eighth month of the Covid-19 pandemic where we are being told to ‘social distance’. It is also during a time of political anxiety due to the upcoming elections and racial unrest that is creating divisions throughout our nation. It is being written during a time where there are hybrid models in place guiding everything from how we shop, to how our children are being taught. There are also ongoing safety concerns limiting how we socialize and even worship. While inconvenient, these precautions are intended to help us avoid the impacts of catching or spreading this insidious virus wherever possible. Unfortunately, it also creates an underlying risk of a subtle isolation as part of the new ways of engaging.
In recent months we have seen protests, protests of the protests, hurricanes, economic swings, and much more. I must admit, I am weary. I am weary from Covid-19, weary from the challenges of keeping my child engaged during these quarantine months, and weary from recent events that have pinnacled into an apprehension of allowing my family to step outside for anything. As we are being urged to ‘socially distance’ to stay safe, I have to admit, I miss the engagement and interaction of the pre-Covid19 days. I am a hugger by nature, so it feels awkward to wave or air-bump elbows. I am getting used to it, but I feel some days like a disconnected soul looking for another soul to connect to.
And this brings me to my topic today – as we social distance to stay safe, let’s be mindful not to ‘socially distance’ from each other.
Love Neighbor and Yourself
Friends – as tensions escalate due to experiences relating to race and injustice, I am just as weary. I am old enough to remember times in my upbringing when I have been called names by departing residents as the complexion of the neighborhood changed in the 1970s. Over the years, as my faith grew, my heart opened to a greater empathy for all because that is what the Bible says to do. I was fortunate to have a mother who, despite racial injustice in her own life, taught me to love unconditionally. She would always say “Let love prevail” and so, that is what I learned to do. While all relationships are not so genial, this has kept peace in my soul in all of my interactions over the years. To this day I am grateful for her lessons and I have gained some awesome relationships as a result.
But today, I am weary. I feel like these recent months, also during a medical pandemic, have served well to beat the emotional life out of me. Almost like running a marathon on a hot day with little water, I want to finish well but my energy is getting low. That is when I am reminded of one of my favorite passages in the Bible in Mark 12:30-31 (New International Version) –
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.
As life tries to widen the areas that connect us all, make every effort to not become distant in the core areas that bring us together. In our humanity, we need each other – and that is what God intended when He said to ‘love your neighbor’. But don’t miss a critical component of this edict and that is we must love our neighbor as ourselves. This requires self-love that expands beyond the individual being. The love of ‘self’ begins when we see how much God loves us. We matter to Him! When the dots of this love connection all play out, we are all better in the end. That sets the stage for a peace that is directly tied to our social relationships.
So again, as you ‘social distance’, please don’t distance socially. Let us stay connected, in Jesus’ Name!