Yesterday I went to Starbucks.
Normally that’s not a remarkable announcement. But these aren’t normal times, are they?
People—I went to Starbucks!!!! You know, that happy place where they toss strawberries in your Pink Drink and tell you to have a nice day. Where cake pops are shaped like unicorns and for some mysterious reason all the fiscally responsible woman of the world gladly slap down five whole dollars for a cup of jolly joy.
Our Starbucks had been closed for over two months. Not even a drive-through.
So, yeah. Yesterday I went to Starbucks. And it was a momentous occasion.
But it wasn’t my same old Starbucks. This pandemic is changing everything.
Instead of a crowded café packed shoulder-to-shoulder with patrons and laptops, the doors are locked and nobody is allowed inside. Peek through the tinted floor-to-ceiling windows and you’ll see a team of baristas wearing masks as they steam the milk and pump the syrup. Ordering ahead on the app (my favorite) means standing outside on a taped-off square while an employee emerges from within and hands you your order—still with a smile, I can tell, even if I can’t see it behind her mask—then promptly wipes down the table to sanitize it before the next customer steps up. You know, the neighbor who is standing on her own square six feet behind.
Does anybody else see it??
The world is so weird right now.
People are walking around in face masks just going about their business and nobody bats an eye.
Plexiglass separates human from human at checkout lanes and office cubicles.
My daughter went to the orthodontist and I wasn’t allowed in the building. They took her temperature, made her sit in a lobby where every third chair was open while the rest were taped off.
What used to be normal is now taboo. Don’t hug people. Don’t step in their space. Don’t sing happy birthday unless you’re just driving by, and, well, we can all forget about eating the cake unless whoever blew out the candles was a member of your own immediate family and is displaying no symptoms.
People were created by God, for God, and for relationship with other people. But He has allowed COVID-19 and therefore we can trust He will redeem this sad season in which our relationships look different and distanced.
But I’ve got to say it.
Can we PLEASE… please… not make an already weird world even weirder with our response to ONE ANOTHER?
We all have different views on the state of the planet right now. We’re all allowed to make our own choices on how to respond to it, what parameters to set for ourselves and our families, how comfortable we feel facing the risk. And that’s okay. There’s a lot of room for personal preference within the boundaries of faith.
But since when do we make room for animosity?
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12–14)
I’ve never seen anything polarize friends and neighbors quite like this virus. People who three months ago were united in love and Christ are now criticizing, judging, rolling eyes at one another simply because they stand somewhere else on the spectrum of green light (go! let’s all lick the same popsicle again!) to red light (let’s just meet on Zoom until there’s a vaccine, thanks).
I’ve got to admit I’ve done my share of wondering. Is it okay to socialize? It is okay to not? What will people think of me for making one choice or another??
What will I think of other people??
Gah!!! Can we all just agree to love one another with the love of God? That means accepting each other and encouraging each other in spite of our differences. We know this. We’ve been at this Christian living thing for long enough now. So the world is weird and feels out of control—but it’s not. It never has been. The Sovereign God is still on the throne, still directing traffic, still healing hearts and souls. Do we really think He can’t handle a pandemic? Of course He can.
The bigger question is—can we?
I pray you are all finding peace in the midst of the madness. Soon enough we’ll all be together again in person and not just in spirit. But until then, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
And go get a Pink Drink. I’ll meet you there—six feet behind.
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