“Stay-at-home” in our area has had a revolutionary impact in only a few days. We live in the same neighborhood as one of our church members. He’s walked past my house a few times, and each time this week, I happened to be on the phone. Apparently, my front porch has become my “new office” as he put it.
It’s not just the front porch we’ve rediscovered. It’s the back yard and brush needing to be cleaned up. It’s sorting and organizing the garage. It’s kitchen cabinets in need of some tlc. These chores that are sometimes hard to get around to because of scurrying schedules have reminded me that we can easily put them off until later. Sometimes though, we realize we’ve put them off too long.
The lessons in these chores against the backdrop of the “stay-at-home” order has also revealed an even more important truth. We’ve got to connect with our family intentionally. The past few weeks have been marked by a number of reengagements with my wife and son. Card games. Board games. Movies. Walks together. Cuddles. Fishing. Laughter. Joy.
Our closeness has also exposed some of our buttons we sometimes push (or get pushed). Our presence with each other almost constantly means we get each other’s best moments and prickly moments. Marriage and parenting always have their challenges, but when you mix in A LOT more time with each other along with the uneasiness and anxieties this season has birthed, it’s a recipe for some interesting “moments.”
While I’m sure Peter didn’t have my home in the midst of this virus outbreak in mind, his words have been sweet balm and a helpful corrective:
8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:8-9 ESV)
Those words must start with our family. The truth is, I desperately need my family. I’m overwhelmingly grateful for them. Many are cut off from grandchildren or children or even spouses because of all the social distancing restrictions or certain careers that force separation. On an even more serious note, some are cut off from loved ones because they are sick. Close hospitality cannot be accomplished right now with many, which makes it all the more important that we get those expectations right with those under our roof.
Those words also press the importance of the “now.” Peter says, “Keep loving one another earnestly.” Earnestly pleads for a zealous effort. A press upon the immediate. In this season where our peace of mind about our health is so fragile, we better be loving those we are living with “earnestly.”We are well right now. I’m going to praise Jesus for that gift! I’m also going to try to live with my wife and son in such a way I don’t take it for granted.
Furthermore, he gives instruction for those interesting “moments.” Love covers our sins and an earnest love helps us ward off grumbling. My guess is, your home has had its share of tensions, complaints, or outbursts. In Jesus, we’ve been given the power of God in us to teach us to bite our tongues, extend generous grace, and reset our emotions before we pop off in unfair or unkind ways at those we love the most.
While you may not be able to be with all those you would like to connect with, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay in touch. Make a call. Send a text. FaceTime with a friend. Zoom with your Bible study group. Send an email, or go really old school by writing a letter. Check on a neighbor. And while you do, be sure not to miss those right in front of you.
You see, I’m I’m bound to my family. I’m one flesh with Diana. Joseph is our child. We are linked at the hip. We are in each other’s personal space. We are close. Extremely close. I’ve got to be connected to them.
So, are you connecting? It’s important. Especially right now.