Dear ES, some of my friends and family still tell me they don't feel comfortable catching up, even though the government said we're allowed to catch up again now...what should I say to my friends if they don't want to catch up? From a lonely Christian
Dear Lonely Christian,
Even introverts like me are getting to that stage where we just want to see someone face to face. There is only so long that anyone can last on their own! All people need community, so its pretty natural for you to be feeling that way (although knowing that might not make you feel any better about it).
Maybe there are particular people you want to see that you’re still separated from: family or friends who might be overseas or interstate. But with the current restrictions still in place to limit travel, they may as well be on the moon, because you don’t know when you’ll be able to make it there to see them!
But even more frustrating might be those friends who are just around the corner, but don’t seem to want to catch up…
With restrictions easing, there are is a lot more freedom now to see people (though still with the appropriate government recommended precautions and social distancing). But how can and should we respond to people who seem to ignore that and still don’t want to catch up?
It is important to recognise that there are still a lot of very valid reasons for people to be cautious about going out. People who work in health care, live with chronic health conditions, or are in high risk categories might still want to limit face to face contact. It is important to realise that when someone says they don’t want to catch up face to face there are lots of reasons this might be the case. And if they don’t want to discuss these, this is something we should respect without offering judgement!
As followers of Jesus, we are called to show love to others, and this is what Paul told the Colossian church in his letter to them.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
We’re not just told to be loving or patient when it is easy: Paul says we should clothe ourselves with these things. Because we are God’s chosen people, these are things we’re meant to wear all the time. The way we treat each other is important to God, and we are to follow the way he has treated us.
So how do we practically love our friends who have decided for personal reasons that they don’t feel comfortable to catch up in person? We need to respect that without judgement, and understand that they may have reasons for this decision which they don’t have to share with everyone else. We need to remember these things we are clothed with now as Jesus’ followers: gentleness, love, patience.
There are still lots of creative ways we can catch up with people until they feel comfortable meeting up face to face! Over the last few months I’ve had a video chat with my friend where we both cooked brunch at the same time then ate it and chatted, where we’ve watched movies together and talked about them online, or we’ve had a video call while we both went for a walk through our neighbourhoods. This is a chance to see not a limitation, but an opportunity to think of different ways to catch up!
As well as that, staying up to date and informed on what is happening across our state and country is a way to love the people around us. To act lovingly, we need to really know the current situation and government advice. Being well informed is part of loving others too, to not just make good decisions for ourselves but help others make good decisions too.
It can be frustrating when we can’t see people, but being patient and waiting until other people feel comfortable to do this can be an important way to love them at this time. And in the meantime, you can find some more long distance ways to care for people!
Grace & peace,