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Giving Grace to Others During the Pandemic

This week our society has reached one year anniversary of the COVID-19 lockdown.  Due to this anniversary, there has been a lot of media reflection on the past year and a lot of coping with the fact that life is not back to normal.  We have learned a lot about our families and loved ones as we have lost so many holidays and time spent with some, while spending way too much time with others.  Over the past year we have gone from loving our neighbors by dropping off groceries and leaving friendly notes to hurtful speech brought on by decision fatigue and disappointment. 

One thing that has been made abundantly worse by the pandemic is going to the grocery store.  It all started when we were forced to wait in lines outside no matter the weather, adding a good hour to the usual trip to the market.  Once you were finally inside, you could feel the tension creep up your back as you attempted to navigate around too many people wearing masks all sorts of ways, only to be massively disappointment by the empty aisles barely checking off anything on your market list.  Taking the three items you needed with the 20 others you felt you should pick up just because you were there and surprisingly the market had them to the register, you find yourself halfway down the frozen food aisle.  Conveniently, the store has a surplus of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream you’ve been standing in front of for 20 minutes and since your now stress you grab 4 pints and check out.  Not only do you have to bag your own groceries because the bag they made you bring in 2 weeks ago is contagious but the cashier is quickly attempting to scan your groceries without any attempt at conversation.  But let’s be real you can’t hear her anyways behind the plexiglass and the mask.  You finally make it back to your car after being told you used the wrong exit and your exhausted.  Every interaction you had seemed hurried or tainted with anger.  During a time of lacking human interaction, it seems like the small ones we do have never refresh us and often leave us feeling worse or self-conscious. 

I realized at one point that the problem is everyone is dealing with some level of disappointment.  Vacations, school field trips, and celebrations were all canceled.  Work and life have been reconfigured and not to suit our desires.  No wonder the market is a horrible place.  It’s filled with disappointed, stressed out people who do not have to think about you and don’t. 

This realization showed me, first, how prideful I am in thinking these other people need to think about me during their marketing so my life might be easier.  It also showed me a need for grace.  I needed to give others grace and each person is battling a laundry list of have too and disappointments. 

My list might have seemed greater or longer but the pandemic taught me it is not a contest for the most inconvenienced.  Everyone has been inconvenienced, in multiple ways, nothing is going as planned.  Everyone needs grace.  I often think of grace as something seen only in big gestures, maybe that is because the picture God gives us of grace is so immense.   

We hated God when He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth.  I ran from Jesus as He died on the cross for me.  And yet He saved me, giving me something I could never achieve myself, taking on the wrath of God I truly deserved.  Yet the grace we give to others, even the smallest act of grace points to God’s grace towards us.  It is how we reflect His love. 

As we pass the one-year anniversary of the pandemic and face the unknown future of disappointments, let us strive to give grace to family members who have driven us crazy for 12 months. To those who cut us off with their shopping carts. And to our fellow Christians struggling with navigating praising God and submitting to earthly authority.  We can give up our rights because Jesus Christ gave up all his rights for us.