Steadfast in Community While Safer at Home: Reflections on Social Distancing
We are, as you’ve likely heard, in an unprecedented situation for our generation. There is so much fear, confusion, sadness, panic, xenophobia, name any number of emotions, swirling around us hourly. With the increased call to self-isolate and distance yourself from social interactions, with possible government mandated lockdowns in the works, its going to be more and more difficult to find joy and peace, community and comfort.
Right now, what I’m experiencing, feels a lot like what I experienced while I was in Ghana. It’s not necessarily an isolation from human contact or being outside, but it’s like part of your life is missing, an empty hole. Like the center of a donut. Without the donut. When I was abroad, I still had people to interact with daily, I had my housemates, I had my co-workers, I even had good friends I could message and chat with back home. But I was still alone. I missed physically being with my church family. I missed going into church on Sunday, seeing the people who’ve walked along side me daily for years and years. I missed the annoyed side-eyes my friends would give me when I said something stupid. I missed the youth group kids that annoyed me Friday nights. I missed playing basketball on Monday. And I would find myself, on so many weeknights and weekends, walking aimlessly and grasping for something to fill that hole. But why? I missed the point.
Even the most ardent introvert knows that we were made to live in community. When speaking with his disciples in John 13:34, Jesus commanded his disciplines to love one another, just as Jesus loved the disciples, the disciples were to love one another. Peter, Peter built the Church, the community of believers. Romans 12, we’re one body, and the body cannot function without all its members. Hebrews 10, we’re told to not stop meeting together. And ultimately, when all is said and done, the perfect relationship we’ll have with God, through Jesus, by the holy spirit. True community isn’t just walking into a room where everybody knows your name though. A community of believers is one where people know your struggles, yearn to be part of your life, rejoices with you, struggles with you, bears your burden, and love you every step of the way.
It took a good friend to remind me that I wasn’t alone, and I had community. Because God was with me even when I wasn’t looking for him. Isaiah 41:10, fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand. He also reminded me that I had a church praying for me, that my burdens could be shared with them, and that I didn’t have to walk alone.
People are suffering right now. Scared for their health and their family’s health. Anxious about their future, their finances, their homes and businesses. Wanting to be with family, to be with the ones they love, but can’t physically be with. They are home, socially distanced. If this is you, don’t be me, you’re not alone, don’t try to rely on yourself. God is always with you, trust in him. The church is with you, let us bear your burdens. For the “introvert,” the “extrovert”, and everyone in between, now’s a particularly good time to stop thinking about yourself. Ask somebody if they need help, ask somebody FOR help. Be together, even when we’re not. Bear one another’s burden.