Giving people space
“Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” – Colossians 3:12.
What’s obvious these days is the amount of physical space we are all giving each other so that we can slow down the spread of covid-19. What you also might have observed in recent times is the greater space we are giving to each other in other regards; for example, people seem more gracious and flexible these days with work as conditions for everyone are compromised, and lots of us have school children to look after at home on top of our normal duties. There seems to be an understanding that everyone may well be under a significant amount of stress at the moment, and so we are all trying to ‘go easy’ on each other where we are able to.
I wonder, though, if there isn’t something to learn from this. Because even in an ordinary season which might be pandemic-free, we rub shoulders with people who may, in reality, be under a serious load of stress caused by who-knows-what. And while those circumstances causing stress may not be obvious or visible to us, they always have significant impacts on those going through them. On appearances alone, you cannot know if there are significant worries over health issues impacting anyone’s loved ones, or if there are anxieties that someone carries over their financial situation. And yet these stresses are what many people live with all year round, whether they get the chance to explain these things to you or not. People under stress behave in ways which they otherwise wouldn’t if everything was fine, and the gentleness and grace that we’re learning to show to each other in this season - might be an appropriate default position to take in our interactions with people moving forward, pandemic or otherwise. Grace is key; lets keep looking after each other, and all those God brings our way.