“Woman, here is your son” and to John, “Here is your mother.” John 19:25-27
Quarantine feels synonymous with loneliness. In all transparency, I actually welcomed the first few weeks of solitude with my little family. Being away from the hectic felt like a gift! But, a few nights ago I finally looked at Aaron and said, “I miss seeing people! - Our life needs its normal back.”
Of course, I’ll be more than ready for the community when the time gets here, but it hasn’t been the worst isolation I’ve ever felt. A ministry I was highly involved with in my early 20’s was also a future employer, as well as, a tight-knit group of Believers that felt more like family than anything else. After a male leader acted inappropriately towards me, I shared the situation with the ministry’s founder. The perpetrator was asked to apologize and he did. But in a strange turn of events, a promotion already being planned for this man solidified while all communication this group had with me evaporated; including my job offer. Graduating college directionless and feeling duped was an incredibly challenging time. And, not having a single, faith-family member left made me feel distant from the God I put my very faith in. Loneliness, solitude, and even rejection are all painful, human experiences - but, ones Jesus knows. I was in the four gospels Easter week as an appropriate place to re-visit the holiday's roots. I noticed Jesus’ own very human struggle with isolation tucked in this resurrection story: •The disciples all fell back after the guards seized Jesus in the Garden of Olives (Mark 14:50) •Random followers fled (Mark 14:51) •Jesus had dishonest accusers attack him publicly (Mark 14:56) •Simon Peter, a close friend, and faithful disciple denied he even knew Jesus to others. Then, He and Jesus caught eyes across the courtyard after the final crushing denial (Luke 22:61) •Pilate didn’t fight for Jesus (Luke 23:24) •Joseph of Arimathea tended to Jesus’ dead body, but was always a secret disciple, afraid of the leaders, (John 19:38) and •Nicodemus came to see Jesus only at night when he would be unnoticed (John 19:39) And the unthinkable blow? Jesus' own Father looked away from Him. (Mark 15:34) When we put ourselves in these shoes as though they were modern-day, we can imagine the depths of what Jesus’ endured; shame and humiliation, loneliness, and rejection. And often, from the people he loved and called friends. And yet, with two sentences spoken to both John and his mother at the foot of the cross, in the height of Jesus’ own pain and isolation, He begins to build the opposite of solitude; the Christian community. What irony. “Woman, here is your son” and to John, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:25-27)
Jesus would make sure his widowed mother was cared for, even when this Jewish, family law wasn’t necessarily applicable. He showed selfless love in caring for her despite his own immediate agony. In addition to the love which Jesus is defined by, He also constructs a relationship between these two Believers enacting the 'New Commandment' He had just introduced at the last supper. (John 13:34) Jesus institutes the concept of loving community, the Church, at the foot of His own cross. Beyond quarantine (or possibly in addition to quarantine), maybe a divorce, a shunning, or an estrangement has left you, too feeling utterly displaced. This isn’t God’s intention as He desires for us to have loving community amidst Believers we call ‘the Church’. It has caused me to ask myself two things recently:
1) How am I displaying the selfless love Christ showed His mother by loving the lonely in my own loneliness? and
2) How am I acting as the true ‘Church’ in providing others loving relationship, not hurt?
I will continue to ask myself these questions, but today, these answers need to be really creative ideas! How do I love and create community during #Covid?
Here are some answers the kids and I came up with*:
1) Place a gift card or note in a mailbox anonymously
2) Have one of your kiddos mail a handwritten note or hand-drawn picture
3) Put a hot meal on a neighbor's front porch
4) Put together a personal treat bag for a friend
6) Another family "egged" us. The kids and I walked out to a surprise, candy hunt in our front yard.
7) Make a Zoom, Facetime, Google meet, or phone call date with loved ones
8) Designate a special place in your neighborhood where everyone can drop-off and pick-up surprises at their leisure
9 ) Be a cookie delivery service for a day. Drive around and do porch drops.
10) Start a fundraiser for those in the hospital...or donate :)
11) Collect treats/gifts for hospital staff
12) Stage a community prayer and worship in front of your local hospital to honor workers and patients. Did you see that one video on social?!
13) Mail a mom struggling with concern for her family a copy of Unraveled: Mothering Fiercely in a World Full of Fears. With a January release, God's timing is oh, so perfect.
No matter how hard quarantine gets or how empty isolating circumstances have left us, the One who gave His life for us understands. He offers intimacy beyond any human relationship but has sacrificed greatly to welcome us into His family. Community is also part of His gift to us. No, we are never really alone — even in our loneliness. But, when we follow His instruction to focus on the lonely, the lost, and those living all around us, we no longer have a sense of feeling lonely ourselves. I’d sincerely love to hear what creative ways you and your family have loved others and built #community during this #quarantine. Just know that I will probably credit you with your idea on my public socials. Also, if rejection has been a personal struggle for you, I discuss the topic more in-depth in my new book Unraveled. You can preview or order a copy here. For your good and His glory, Amanda
*These are just suggestions made by precious kids ages 4-11. Definitely pray about what you feel comfortable with.