Written by Rachel Beckham.
I am not an extrovert. I love people, and I want to help them in any way I can, but at the end of the day, they absolutely exhaust me.
I am perfectly content to spend my nights at home crossing things off my to-do list or binge-watching whatever my latest obsession may be. Yet when the world locked its doors and I found myself trapped inside, I couldn’t help but long for the presence of my dearest friends, my loving family or — in all honesty — anyone.
As people, we are meant to be in relationship with others. And as God’s people, we are called to be in relationship with others. Yet over and over again in the midst of the pandemic, I found myself asking, “How can I show love to the people I can’t see?”
I turned to others my age to find the answer. My Instagram feeds were filled with friends on group FaceTime calls or having socially distanced picnics. Many told me to love others by wearing my mask and staying away. I remember participating in a drive-thru birthday celebration and being so close to my friends, yet feeling farther than ever from them.
All of this advice — keep your distance, wear your mask, don’t leave the house unless absolutely necessary — led to a culmination of fear. The thought of being around people gave me great anxiety, and the very beings I was called to love suddenly seemed like the enemy.
In the midst of my own trials, I saw a similar issue reflected on a national level. People were stripped of their humanity and transformed into walking infections. Those who chose not to wear masks were selfish and ignorant, and the leaders enforcing mask mandates were destroyers of our nation’s freedom. In a time of national crisis, people turned against each other instead of joining together to fight the thing attacking us all.
Recently, I have been on a Star Wars kick (I know I’m a little late to the party, but at least I finally got here). A quote from Master Yoda struck me as the perfect descriptor of what has occurred amidst the pandemic: “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Our fear of the coronavirus led to an anger so deep that we began to hate our fellow people.
I, too, am guilty of this. I have given rude looks to people in the grocery store or made negative assumptions about them. But this is not what we were called to do. We were called to love. In his book “Everybody Always,” Bob Goff tells readers to love 30 seconds at a time. This quote has helped me grow: When I am quick to judge a stranger, I remember that they are a child of God and deserving of the same love that he showed me.
The pandemic has caused overwhelming anxiety for many people. I would argue that fear is a good thing; it protects us from things that might cause us harm. But it can also become an impediment to daily life. As we reenter the world, let us remember what we are told in 1 John 4:18: “Perfect love casts out fear.” Be kind to the stranger at the store, show mercy to those around