I was in the drive-through lane at my local McDonalds, one car behind the person who was being served. A man, waiting for his meal walked up to the window, asking about his food. Which was when the person in the car ahead of me started shouting at the other man.
I saw the man on foot put his hands up in a gesture of nonviolence, while the other screamed some more about cutting into line. I felt for both of them . . . One completely misunderstanding the situation and the other just trying to get his overdue food. Not taking the time to understand another’s point of view sets us up for anger, resentment and ill feelings.
Excess stress leaves us vulnerable to overreacting. We say and do things we later regret. Overwhelmed with stress the young parent lashes out at a child. A teacher screams at his class. The businesswoman stomps out of a meeting. An angered driver shouts obscenities.
Covid has exaggerated all of that. Anna Carter Florence refers to this time saying, “A rupture has taken place between our life as we knew it and now.” We are stressed about the economy, keeping our families safe and weary of social distancing. Ordinary parts of our lives have changed or been limited. Exhausted parents balance jobs and their children’s virtual learning. Old support systems have floundered. What was once normal has altered. What was melded and smooth is now complicated and messy.
Offering grace to one another is essential as we go through these hard times. Every person we meet, talk to, live with, or encounter is dealing with some level of Covid stress. The writer of Proverbs understood stress and wrote this advice in dealing with those acting out their anxiety. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
Even as we offer grace to others Jesus offers grace to us, telling us: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30