Our collective detour thanks to COVID

Lay Servant Ministries


A friend of mine recently wrote of how she is dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and I thought it worthy of sharing here:
“I enjoy walking in the early mornings when my schedule allows it. Recently, my walks have been made more adventurous by the addition of a detour on my route — not a detour for me but for many drivers who were used to taking another route and now are forced to drive slower, through my usually quiet neighborhood. The traffic has become heavier, yes, but it’s the drivers’ behavior that has been the most interesting to observe. What is it about a detour that puts us on edge? Oh, no, I’m going to be late. … I was already running late this morning. … My boss is going to be angry. … I’m going to miss the first part of that important meeting or class. … Why me, why this on this particular day!
“I’ve had all those negative thoughts and more.
“Saturday morning I was very nearly hit by a driver of a big vehicle who was speeding and appeared to be paying more attention to his cell phone than to what was ahead. (As he drove past, I saw only the top of his head, looking down, and I saw the panicked look on his passenger’s face looking straight at me.)
“Today I decided to make myself more visible, by my actions. As each vehicle approached, if possible I very deliberately stepped off the road, taking a little “detour” myself. Almost 100% of the drivers reacted by giving me more room, even detouring completely into the other lane if an oncoming vehicle wasn’t present. I gave each of these drivers a wave and mouthed a big “thank you.” Most of them waved and smiled back. I felt better, and I hope it brightened their days as well.
“It occurred to me then that the COVID pandemic has been one giant detour for the entire world. As a result, many of us haven’t been behaving as our best selves. Sometimes I feel so discouraged and powerless, in the face of the many huge challenges we’re all facing and the negative behavior that often results. The lesson I re-learned this morning: It doesn’t take much to give each other a little space, a smile, a thank you. Perhaps it will brighten someone’s day. You never know what the ripple effect might be. Maybe that’s our superpower in the midst of this particular detour.”

At the time that I read this on Janet's page, I was feeling irritated about the inconveniences that this extended COVID time has brought down on poor little ol' me, wallowing in self-pity. Why me Lord? I had plans for this time that have been derailed — or sent on a detour, as Janet writes. But then her words reminded me that I am not in this alone. We all are in this together: one big detour.
The question is, what do we do with this thing? What do we make of this? How do we respond?
Do we lash out and treat others in an angry way when none of this is their fault, either? Or is such a time as this our opportunity to show who we are, by our actions.
“As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord." I try to remember that my story isn't the only one out there. How can I help others?
The world is our mission field, wherever we are, whether literally in the field, stuck in our home, or on the side of the road — with a smile and a friendly wave. How do you choose?

— Scott Barnum is Hays District director of Lay Servant Ministry