Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)
Even before the pandemic began, I cherished phone calls with long-distance family, friends, and former colleagues. All too often our conversations would begin with a litany of how busy we each were as if it were a badge of honor. Every time I give this response, I regret it later. It gives me pause to think about what I am busy doing and the ways in which I manage my time and priorities. I realize the message I frequently give is that something else is more important and worthy of my time and attention. I get so caught up in my own busyness that I sometimes neglect to make the time for loving others well. The truth is, we are never too busy for the people that we care about.
My Uncle Winty loved my frosted sugar cookies. Any time we talked on the phone or he saw one of my Facebook posts, he would blurt out “WHERE ARE MY COOKIES?”
This past Christmas Eve, despite the long list of preparations still left to do, I felt an undeniable nudging for my husband, son, and I to visit my uncle at his care facility. We brought along our corgi puppy, Winston, to meet his namesake for the first time and a bag of freshly frosted holly cookies.
When he saw us, Winty broke out into a wide, joyous smile. His eyes twinkled with childish delight when he saw the bag of cookies I had brought. As we talked on our cell phones through the glass, Winty shared about getting the vaccine a few days earlier and the hope he had to be reunited with his family after the 2nd dose in January. When we turned to leave, I could see the tears of longing in his eyes. Less than two weeks later, my Uncle Winty passed away.
If I have learned anything from this pandemic and from my uncle’s recent death, it’s that I always want more of my busyness to be focused on loving and giving fully to my family, friends, and neighbors, just as Jesus taught. If we remembered every day that we could lose someone at any moment, we would love them more fiercely and with reckless abandon.
Director of Children’s Ministry
Those who are mourning the loss of a loved one
Lord, When I am busy, please help me to remember what matters most in the midst of all I have to do. Give me eyes that see the needs of those around me. Give me ears that hear the meaning behind their words. Give me hands that reach out to make a difference. Remind me often that time is intended to be given, not spent. Amen.
Make a batch of your favorite homemade cookies and either deliver them or send them to one of your relatives. Include a card expressing your love for them.
Learn what it is like to “walk in someone else’s shoes.” Bring a pair of shoes for each member of the family into your gathering space. Each person should choose a pair of shoes to wear that does not belong to them. Talk about what the lives of those people look like. What is it like for daddy or mommy to go to work each day? How might they feel when they come home at night? What is it like to go to school all day and then come home tired? Think about other family and perhaps friends who might be sad, lonely, or sick. Wonder what it might be like to walk in their shoes. By being exposed to how others might feel, we can have more compassion and empathy. We can understand better what it is that they need and do something to meet that need.