Love One Another
by Steph Beth Nickel
A simple walk through Walmart. That’s when it hit her. I don’t think I can do this mask thing for the long haul.
Deep breath. You’ll be okay.
Thankfully, with God’s help, she talked herself off the ledge. But it was scary. It was the first time she could, in a small way, empathize with those who deal with full-fledged panic attacks.
This isn’t a post about the benefits and drawbacks of wearing masks. It’s about something far more important. It’s about love and respect.
Years ago, our former pastor said we can’t know for sure what motivates a person to speak and act the way they do. We may have our suspicions, but two people can do exactly the same thing for entirely different reasons.
It breaks my heart to read how people are attacking one another on social media. Like many people, I find conflict upsetting—even when I’m not directly involved.
While some conflict is inevitable, much is avoidable—especially when it stems from the assumption that we know why people are choosing to respond to COVID-19 in the way they are.
This situation isn’t going away anytime soon—barring divine intervention. How can we love one another well?
Here are nine ideas:
- Draw close to the Lord. We can only love others well if His love becomes a wellspring in us, bubbling up and overflowing to those around us.
- Be kind to yourself. It’s especially important these days to take care of ourselves. It’s not selfish; it’s vital.
- Admit it when you’re struggling in one way or another. We all need at least one confidante in our life who will actively listen as we pour out our heart, someone who won’t simply spout platitudes and expect us to “get over it.”
- Become a good listener. Stephen Covey said, “Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.” I prefer the simpler version: listen to learn, not to respond.
- Begin a Gratitude Journal. While the situation can be overwhelming, when we deliberately examine our life for things to be grateful for, it changes our attitude—and that splashes over onto the people around us.
- Plan fun activities. Instead of grieving what we can’t do—at least for prolonged periods—it’s important to make the best of the situation. We are created for community. It’s important to enjoy time with family and friends, whether in person or online.
- Look for an opportunity to reach out to someone who is lonely. Even pre-COVID it was easy to neglect those who are isolated and on their own. It’s even harder for them these days. While we can’t necessarily go for a visit, we can write them a letter or give them a call. A simple act can brighten someone’s day more than we realize.
- Fellowship with other believers. The Lord used the analogy of a body for good reason. We truly need one another. Whether we get together in person or learn to use Zoom, it’s crucial to our spiritual wellbeing to spend time with other Christians. While watching a church service online can be beneficial, it isn’t the same as interacting with one another.
- Pray for one another. We see throughout the Scriptures that prayer is a command and an invitation. One of the most incredible things someone can do for us is pray. Why not let someone know today that you are praying for them—and don’t forget to do just that.
This list could be much longer, but these ideas provide a good jumping off point.
I’d love to hear how you are loving others in the midst of these challenging times.
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Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org;
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or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.