When I was married to my first husband and the kids were very small, we lived in a sweet little house that I loved near Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, NC. The front door was solid and I couldn’t see who was there when someone came over. So I asked him to install a peephole.
He was so proud of his handiwork. It was perfectly centered. No splinters around it. No scratches on the paint. There was only one problem . . . I couldn’t see out of it.
I’m 5’3″ and he was 6’3″. The peephole was an entire foot above my line of vision. He had made the peephole where he could see clearly who was on the porch if he was standing flatfooted. There was no reason to fuss about it. It would have looked stupid to have two peepholes in the door. So for the rest of the time we lived there, I pulled up a chair to stand on when the doorbell rang.
There was no malice in what he’d done. He wasn’t trying to inconvenience me. He was simply doing what most all of us do from time to time — he was looking at the world through his own eyes.
We all have our own peepholes. We have a tendency to be egocentric, and unless we make a concerted effort to think about how things look from another’s point of view, we’re destined to think all views are the same.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic, in case you haven’t noticed. People are dying. Our entire economy is shut down. One phrase I keep reading (and quite honestly it’s getting old) is, “We’re all in this together!”
Not exactly. Someone else said it much better, I think,
We’re all in the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat.
Some of us have had COVID-19 and have recovered. Some of us have died. Some have lost loved ones and couldn’t even have a proper funeral. Some have enjoyed the time home and are glad to have had the downtime. Some have felt desperately lost and inadequate trying to teach their children who are upset that school is canceled. Some are stuck with an abusive spouse or parents. Some have lost jobs, their small business or their retirement plan. Some have lost their senior year — no prom, sports, and no graduation. Some are on the front lines, caring for the sick and risking their lives, and some are safe in quarantine. It’s been a vacation for some and a nightmare for others.
Even though we’re not all having the same experience, we can still be good humans. We can do our best to see things from others’ perspectives. We can fight the urge to compare our INSIDES to their OUTSIDES.
It might be tempting to judge a young mom for bringing her children into the grocery story instead of keeping them safe at home, when the truth is she’s a single mom with no one to help her, and she can’t very well leave them in the car.
It might be tempting to judge someone who fights to keep the family business open because it’s safer to stay closed, when the truth is they’re trying to put food on the table and not go bankrupt.
It might be tempting to say you are young and healthy and would be fine if you caught the virus, when the truth is, you might unknowingly give it to someone who is immunocompromised or the healthcare worker caring for them.
I don’t pretend to have the answers. I don’t know when this mess will be over or what life will look like when COVID-19 is a dot in our rearview mirror. (If it’s never going to be, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know!)
So here’s my suggestion. Instead of thinking about what we CAN’T do, let’s think about what we CAN do.
We can be kind to everyone, even if they’re not kind to us. We can stop and think for just a second how things might be for someone else that is different from what we’re experiencing.
We can keep scrolling when someone makes a post online that makes you think they might not be socially distancing like you think they should be, or if they are doing anything else you don’t like. No one EVER changed anyone’s mind about ANYTHING by starting an argument or shaming anyone on social media.
We can patronize local businesses. The big guys are going to survive. When this is over, Walmart, Target, McDonald’s and Taco Bell will still be there. How about getting takeout from the local eatery and help some folks keep their houses? Guaranteed it’s healthier than fast food anyway!
We can check in on an elderly neighbor. See if you can bring them groceries and leave it on their step. Talk to them through the door. I bet they’re lonely and would love a little human interaction!
We can send cards to those in nursing homes or homebound and brighten their day since they can’t have visitors or see their families.
We can call or text someone who lives alone, is a frontline worker — healthcare or first responder, or anyone especially struggling right now. Ask how they are, let them know you care.
We can choose NOT to politicize this pandemic. For the love of all that is holy, PLEASE don’t use it to promote and/or disparage the elected official you love or love to hate. It is OKAY for someone to disagree with you.
Jesus told us in Luke 6:35-36,
Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.
We’re all scared. Even if we don’t show it. We’re uncertain about the future. Most of us are tired of being on lockdown. We’re lonely. Many of us are ready to get out of the house and get back to our lives — we just don’t know what that will look like. We can’t fix it and we can’t control it.
But we can do our best to try to see things from another’s perspective.
Grab a chair and look out someone else’s peephole. They’ll be glad you did. And so will you.