Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Greater Gift

It's easy to count up the losses. They've mounted as the days and weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic have rolled on: loss of life, loss of freedoms, a sense of safety, loss of routine and social events, and above all, loss of control. We've experienced the loss of things we love: baseball, playgrounds, travel, coffee shops.

Yes, we could go on and on about the losses.

People say this can be a time of gains. We must think of it as a GIFT, you see. I know they're right. We've been given the gift of time with our kids or to pursue a new hobby or organize the attic or spend time getting closer to God. I know this, but so far with kids home and attempting to work and everyone here, I somehow find I have less time. And all of the things that I'm not doing or could be doing threaten to pile up like tasks I haven't accomplished on my Pandemic To-Do List. I want to live grateful but not burdened.

There is one thing, though, one gift I can embrace with fully opened arms. It's the glimpse into other people's life situations that may be different than my own but point back to the same thing: we all, whether during a time of crisis in the nation or not, have struggles and pain and heartbreak. That saying about being kind because everyone is fighting some kind of battle rings true today and every single day of human existence, no matter what we see on social media.

I hate this pernicious virus that is sweeping across the world, taking lives and our economy with it. But suddenly more than ever I'm thinking about people on the front lines who consistently risk their lives to care for others. I think of them as real people with families and fears who push on because it's what they do.

I'm thinking about nursing homes and the people who fill them; about confused minds who wonder (or don't wonder) why people aren't visiting, and those who love them but can only from a distance right now. There are some nursing home residents who before the virus were already alone. Every day, just down my street, I pass them on my walks, but don't always see.

There are the cognitively disabled who may not understand why routines have changed; they can't leave their group home to go home; their work program has been cancelled; the staff person who worked with them was laid off. There are children with special needs missing therapies and schedules and the parents trying to explain things they can't fully explain themselves, and teach in ways they haven't been trained to teach.

Our children are missing their friend groups and teachers at school; other kids are missing a safe haven from a troubled home. Some kids are understandably disappointed about missing field trips and concerts and graduations. Every year some kids are in the hospital missing real life due to serious illness...only their class isn't missing out with them. They're alone in the disappointment.

There are those with addictions and mental health issues needing healthy connections and outlets more than ever during an extremely stressful time but not having them.

There are people who were already struggling to pay the bills who are now struggling that much harder.

We could throw our hands up in the air in despair, wondering how we can even hope with so much loss and heartache and pain. But I hope we won't.

We've been provided a generous gift of empathy and perspective. COVID-19 is a different lens to see the world -- as full of beautiful, broken people who we may not be able to impact on a global scale, but certainly can on an individual one.

We can think: who's life CAN I touch...not just now, but always?

We can remember: No matter the smile or Instagram photo or feigned confidence, every one of has a burden we carry.

We can ask that God keeps our eyes and hearts open, long after the virus fears have faded away, because the needs will still be there. And we are here to help meet them.

No comments: