COVID-19: Your next right thing for today

This morning I called my neighbor to check in on her. She’s in her 70s, lives alone, and has had her fair share of health issues. I asked her to give me her grocery list so we could pick it up for her on our next run to the store. To my surprise, she wasn’t at all concerned about getting groceries. The public transit takes her to her appointments and drops her off at the market, and she likes getting out of the house.

“In other news, my microwave blew up on Tuesday, so that’s been an issue!” she laughs. 

Blew up?! 

I guess she blew a fuse and has been without a microwave—her main cooking source—for 5 days. She said she was just waiting for someone to come along and fix it for her. She assumed she needed to throw it away and get a new one. 

I sent Brenin over there to check on the situation. Turns out, she just needed to flip her breaker. But she had no idea, and just resolved to deal with no microwave until someone happened to stop by and help. Luckily, it was an easy fix and now she can cook again! But it got me thinking. 

I’m sad that I haven’t been the kind of neighbor she knew she could call when she was in trouble. She has my number. We chat occasionally. If I hadn’t felt prompted to check in on her because of coronavirus, how long was she just going to deal with not being able to cook her food? Why did it take me until pandemic-status to actually start caring about my neighbors beyond a simple wave and weather-related chat?

There’s a lot I don’t know right now. I don’t know when schools and churches and organizations will be able to reopen safely. I don’t know how many people will die from this. I don’t know how long it will be until toilet paper is restocked. I don’t know how this will affect the economy, the lives of my friends and family, or the lives of people at higher risk. 

But here’s what I do know: 

I know how to call my neighbor and make sure she’s okay.

I know how to offer my extra wipes to the family who lives down the street.

I know how to color with my daughter and sing silly songs.

I know how to pray for God to heal and deliver the sick. 

I know how to flip the switch on a breaker (more accurately, I know how to volunteer my husband to do so ;-))

I don’t know how to deal with everything that’s going on. But I do know how to do the next few small things in front of me, and to trust that I don’t need to think beyond that right now.

Here’s a simple revelation that came to my mind after talking to my neighbor today:

For those of us who are privileged and at lower risk, which I’m assuming is a majority of my friends on here, what if we all called our neighbors and asked what they need right now?

What if we were willing to be inconvenienced by our neighbors’ needs, counting theirs’ just as important as our own? 

If we all cooked a meal and shared extras with our 2 closest neighbors, that’s 3 families being fed instead of one. If we have a little extra TP and wipes, we could supply 3 families instead of one. 

And if we all do that, we’re tripling the amount of people who are cared for and covered. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by what to do—how to prepare ourselves and help others. But if we all embraced the responsibility to love our neighbors, fewer vulnerable people will get lost in the mix of all this mayhem. 

Even though our little American kingdom seems to be shaking around us, we still carry the Kingdom of God within us. Little acts of love and generosity go a long way in a world that’s confused and scared. When our instincts tell us we need to stock up and hoard, the Kingdom urges us to share our burdens and be generous with one another. 

Let’s be really literal right now about God’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves. Ask them what they need, and be willing to share what you have. 

We may need social distance, but we don’t need soul isolation. Let’s show up for one another in the ways we still can, and watch as the Kingdom of God advances despite the chaos surrounding us.

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