Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

Pandemic Perspective – Part 4 Social Distancing

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One of the greatest challenges of this Covid-19 pandemic is the need to distance ourselves from each other. We are seeing the economic effects of the pandemic but what about the emotional ones? What effects will distancing ourselves from other human beings have on us as a culture. My wife had to go to the post office yesterday and the line was out the door due to social distancing. Normally everyone would have been inside within a foot or two of each other. But now taped to the floor of the Post office are heart shaped pieces of paper with the reminder to stay six feet apart. Social distancing is not just distancing our bodies but our hearts. These little hearts taped to the floor got me to wondering not only how connected are our hearts right now, but how connected were they before this pandemic struck? Our societies attempt at social distancing isn’t the result of a virus called Covid-19 it’s been going on for a long time. As a society we have been distancing ourselves from each other for decades and it shows up in many different aspects of our lives, architecture and building being just one. In the 20’s through the 50’s we build homes with porches on the front of our houses so we could interact with our neighbors. Not only to wave at them as they passed by but invite them over to sit and catch up on life. Then in the 60’s there was a noticeable shift, we started building decks on the back of our homes and putting up privacy fences, so we didn’t have to deal with our neighbors. We attached garages to our houses so we could drive in close the garage door and go into our home without having to see or deal with other people. But it wasn’t just the outside of our homes that we structured to distance ourselves from our neighbors but also the inside creating distance with our families. We traded the dining room for the breakfast bar. After all its only purpose was a place to eat, right? Wrong the dining room table was more than just a place for food but also fellowship. It was where we sat and talked together, even a place to play games together. It was in essence the family front porch, that place where we connected and found out what was going on in each other’s lives. But what happens when you remove the front porch that connects you to your neighborhood and the family front porch, the dining room table that connects you to your family? What is the result of social distancing, isolation and loneliness. I believe the real pandemic our nation if facing is not the virus of Covid-19 but the virus of social distancing that leads to isolation and loneliness. When was the last time you really listened to someone and what was really going on in their life? Right now, there are nursing homes filled with lonely people because nobody can come to visit them, but how many of us did before? After this virus passes there will still be home bound people who nobody goes to see, shut away in isolation. Right now, millions want out of their homes they feel trapped. We want things to go back to normal, but what is normal, our old lives of social and relational disconnection with the freedom to leave our homes? If you could leave your home right now what would you do? I for one don’t want things to go back to normal where we are free to leave our homes but still socially distant. The truth is we were a socially distant society before this virus and unless something changes, we will remain relationally distant. The only thing this pandemic has done is to help us physically see the six-foot distance between us. I have seen lots of tongue and cheek posts about families killing each other because they have to be together. Spouses sick of being cooped up with each other and parents frustrated with their kids. On the surface it’s just a joke but under the surface there is a grain of truth because while we are not going to kill each other many are sick of having to be together. The truth is we are so used to social distancing that now that we are cooped up together, we don’t know how to be around each other. What we are doing is training the next generation to believe that we don’t like each other. We are passing the virus on and infecting the next generation. Unlike Covid-19 that we are told will die out if we socially distance ourselves from each other the real socially destructive virus, the distance between our hearts, will only die out if we come back together. So, what led to our social distancing, I believe our social distancing was the result of our soul distancing. We were created to walk with God in the garden, but sin distanced our hearts from God. The solution to our sin is the Savior Jesus Christ who died on the cross of Calvary to pay for our sin. Yet many of us have never accepted His free gift of grace and among those who have, many view it as a get out of hell free card instead of an invitation into a relationship with Jesus. We worship on Sunday and go back to work on Monday, without ever letting our worship impacting our work. The greater the soul distance the more we socially distance. This is not an extravert verses an introverted thing this is a heart thing. We all need to feel loved and to love others. As a society we are starving the heart of what it was really made to do love others. We have made labor not love our greatest priority. Yes, we need to work but why, so we will have something to give to others. But we have made work primarily about self not service. We have become results driven instead of relationship driven. Social distancing leads to surface living, where we ask how are you doing? But we don’t take the time to find out. Asking people how they are doing in our culture is not really a question its more of a greeting. We were a culture of social distancing long before Covid-19, this virus has just exposed what was always there the distance between our hearts. Instead of turning to Jesus as the lover of our soul we have turned to technology. Why are we constantly looking at social media? Because we yearn for connection. The problem is Facebook doesn’t bring us not face to face, neither does my back-yard deck or my breakfast bar. We just had our first grandbaby and right now we can’t see him except through technology. Facetime is great but it’s not the same as snuggle time. Something happens to my heart when I get to physically hold him, emotionally and even physiologically our hearts connect. Something deep in my soul gets fed and feels full just being together. We need to start connecting on a soul level and not just a surface level. It’s been interesting to watch a culture that was previously distancing itself socially because of technology now try to use that same technology to bring us back together. Will it work, I don’t think so because we were built for connection not computers. We need we not Wi-Fi. Just living under the same roof doesn’t make a house a home love does. Why not take some time to evaluate where your heart is at. If you are the post office person with way too much distance between your heart and others what do you need to do to close the distance. The worst thing that could happen is for us to go through a pandemic and come out unchanged.  

 

 

 

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