A Show of Love
Last week, our locals schools organized a miniature parade through every neighborhood in the district. Teachers and staff decorated their cars with school spirit and then proceeded to drive through the streets, honking and waving to students who they haven’t seen in weeks due to the coronavirus closures. The kids in our neighborhood were thrilled! They jumped, waved, and blew kisses to their teachers as the parade drove down our street. What a wonderful way for the teachers to show love to their students!
Wrapping my sweater tighter to ward off the chilly spring breeze, I looked up and down the street. Every family was sitting together in their driveway as the parade came through. Though we are all in the coronavirus crisis together, each family has their own unique circumstances to face right now. Could the elderly man up the street make it to the grocery store? Did he have enough to eat? What about the woman going through chemo? Could she make it to the drugstore to pick up her prescriptions? And what about the mom and dad who both lost their jobs last week because of the social distancing orders? Could they pay the rent?
Called to Love
During times of crisis, we have two choices:
- We can hunker down, looking out for ourselves and our own interests.
- Or we can reach out to help and serve others. We can show love to our neighbors.
In a world that very much centers around the first choice, God calls us to show His love toward others. Jesus told us that those blessed by God and who will enter His kingdom will be known by their treatment of others. He said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matthew 25:35-36).
At a time when the entire world is facing a crisis because of the coronavirus pandemic, it can be challenging to show love to our neighbors because of the social distancing restrictions that are in place. And, yes, we still want to keep our families safe and healthy. There are ways that we can safely share the love of Christ with our neighbors.
Here are 10 ways that your whole family can get involved in showing love to your neighbors:
1. Give Them A Call
One thing that social distancing has done is left people starving for conversation and interaction with other people. We are very blessed to have a variety of ways that we can communicate with others.
Here are some examples of ways you might choose to strike up a conversation:
- Call someone on the phone or, if calling is not an option, send a text. Kids can call their friends to make sure they are doing well and to say hello.
- Use an app like Skype, Zoom, Facetime, Facebook Messenger or Microsoft Teams. There are many apps out there that allow you to talk with other people through video.
- Write a letter. E-mail can be a great way of keeping in contact with neighbors. If you live nearby, it may be fun to leave letters or postcards in each other’s mailboxes or on the front door.
- Take the conversation outside. If the weather is good, you can talk with your neighbors from your own yard, balcony, or driveway. This leaves plenty of space between you but allows you to see each other and strike up a conversation.
Be sure, no matter which method you use, to check in regularly with your neighbors to make sure they are doing well and see if they need any assistance. Be a willing listener to their stories; sometimes they might not have anyone else to talk to. Just being there is a great way to show love to a neighbor.
2. Shop and Drop
Many people cannot get to the stores or pharmacies right now either due to illness or the fact that they’re trying to avoid getting sick. For an elderly person or someone with a compromised immune system, the idea of walking into the supermarket with hundreds of other people can be downright frightening.
If you’re going to the grocery store or local pharmacy, check with your neighbors and see if they need you to pick up anything while you are there. Be sure to continue observing healthy practices – washing your hands, wearing gloves, not touching your face, etc. – while you are shopping. Wash your hands before you drop off the groceries on their front step to try and prevent any spread of illness.
3. Share Resources
If you have an excess of certain supplies, there may be a family in your neighborhood who is in desperate need of those very items. For instance, toilet paper is a hot commodity right now. If each of your neighbors chipped in one roll to a family in need, it would probably get that family through until they could buy some at the store.
You can also make a care package for people in your neighborhood who may be in need of specific items. This will certainly brighten their day and show them that someone cares. Also, you might want to think about creating a neighborhood “Little Free Pantry.” Like the “Little Free Libraries” where people can take and leave books, this can be a place where people can “take what they need and leave what they can.”
4. Make a Donation
Consider making a donation to a local church, food bank, or nonprofit organization. These organizations are actively reaching out to families who are in need. With many people losing their jobs due to the outbreak, donations of money can be helpful in getting them by until they can start making a salary again.
Many colleges have emergency funds for students who may be stranded and are in need of a place to stay. Food banks are collecting and donating meals to families. And don’t forget to continue to support your church. While we may not be able to attend weekend services or mid-week activities, churches are instrumental in reaching out to members of our communities at this time.
Also, consider donating blood. Blood is a critical need for hospitals right now and with the coronavirus outbreak, many people have stopped donating. If you are healthy, schedule an appointment with a local blood collection organization and donate to someone in need.
Navigate family life with grace and love!
5. Share Your Talents
No matter your age or situation, each person in your family has God-given talents that they can use to bless others at this time. With the technology we have at our fingertips, it is easier to share those talents than ever before. Here are some ideas:
- Love to exercise? Create a fun workout video that people can do. Or send your neighbors a meeting request and all workout together from your living rooms. You can also set up a group “race” and join each other virtually while you walk or run outside. Exercise is important for maintaining positive mental health, so be sure everyone is getting a little bit each day.
- Offer music lessons through apps like Facetime, Zoom, or Skype. This can be a great chance to teach other children how to play an instrument or to sing. If you have older kids, this might be a fun way for them to try out their teaching skills by having them teach the other kids in the neighborhood an instrument that they already may be playing.
- Have a love for a particular school subject? You and your older kids can set up virtual tutoring sessions for kids in the neighborhood.
- Kids of all ages love to create things. Have your kids create crafts or cards that you can deliver to the neighbors or leave in their mailboxes. Creating colorful artwork to hang in the front window can be a great way to brighten someone’s day as they walk or drive by. If it’s a nice day, a stick of sidewalk chalk can turn your driveway or sidewalk into a stunning canvas. Their drawings will undoubtedly bring a smile to the neighbors’ faces.
6. Acts of Service
You can show love to your neighbors by doing acts of service for them. Elderly people and those with an illness may have a difficult time with some tasks around the house. Check to see if there is anyone who needs help with yard maintenance, taking the trash bins to and from the curb, getting the mail or morning newspaper, or walking their dogs.
You can also prepare a meal for those in your neighborhood who may not be able to cook right now. Making an extra portion or two while you’re cooking dinner for your family and taking it over to a neighbor can be very helpful, especially if they are not able to cook much for themselves. If you love to cook and have some extra time on your hands, making meals and then freezing them for a neighbor can also be a great way to show your neighbor love and make sure they have several meals lined up.
7. Thank the Workers on the Front Lines
There are many people who are working on the front lines right now during this coronavirus crisis. People like healthcare workers, firemen, police, and grocery store workers (to only name a few) are working hard to keep us safe, healthy, and keep our communities going. They are working long, exhausting hours and are putting themselves at risk.
If you see one of these people out on the front lines, make sure to stop and thank them for all their hard work and dedication. They don’t hear it enough. Also, think about doing something to show them you appreciate them. It might be ordering a few pizzas and sending them to some healthcare workers or giving a gift card to a grocer. Have your kids make a little craft or card to give to them to show your appreciation.
Also, at several medical offices in our town, a few families have been spotted standing out on the sidewalk in front of medical offices with homemade signs and balloons. As each healthcare worker arrived at work, the family would start waving and cheering. A nurse later told me that simple act of support brightened her entire day.
8. Stay in the Loop
As a neighborhood, it’s important to communicate frequently about current happenings. Creating a private Facebook group or using apps like Nextdoor can help people share positive stories, breaking news, or needs that they have. These places can also be great for sharing safety information and any recent neighborhood alerts that could impact your family.
You can also organize a weekly neighborhood video call on Zoom or Skype. This is a great way to share information and see each other at the same time.
9. Support Local Businesses
Local businesses are in need of our support during this health crisis. The people who own and work at these businesses are our neighbors and need to be shown love. Some have lost income as their stores have had to close. Others may still be open but are not seeing the traffic that they normally do, causing them to lay off workers.
One great way to support these businesses is to buy gift cards. It’s essentially money that they receive now for services rendered later. Continuing to purchase items from local stores that remain open, specifically restaurants with drive thru or to-go services. If your local shop has a website that you can order from, consider making purchases that way.
10. Pray Together
Offer to pray with your neighbors. Praying together is a wonderful way to connect with each other, bolster your faith, encourage each other, and bring peace. Ask if they have specific needs and requests that you can pray for. God promises that when we gather together to pray, He will also be there (Matthew 18:20).
You might also consider doing a Bible study or devotional with your neighbors. Perhaps you could ask to read a passage together and then discuss what the verses bring to mind. You can easily spend time in the Word together on the phone, a video chat, or even from your own sidewalks.
Remember: be sure to ask your neighbors what assistance they might need. Even if they tell you that they’re fine, ask again in a few days. They might have changed their mind or had a new need come to light.
This list only describes 10 of the ways you can show love to your neighbor during the coronavirus pandemic. What are some other ways that you can think of to show love to your neighbors?
© 2020 by Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.