The Coronavirus Stew

by Aaron

When I was growing up we didn’t have a lot of money, which in turn made my mother buy whatever protein was on sale (usually a roast of some sort). I cannot tell you how often we had pot roast growing up. Many people I speak to love pot roast; personally, I hate it because it was the one thing we had all the time (well, that and meatloaf). I remember one time my stepfather made the meatloaf and essentially took a pound of ground beef, poured ketchup on it, and baked it. Did I mention I don’t like meatloaf either? If there was ever anything left after the end of a few days of potroast or meatloaf leftovers in the refrigerator, it got turned into a stew (by the way, I don’t like stew either).

Apparently, stews can be made from just about anything.. You throw it in a crockpot, or something, mix it all up with a little liquid, and boom…the shelf-life of what you were about to throw away has magically been extended. You may be wondering why I am rambling about stews or meatloaf when the title of this blog says “coronavirus”…well, I have noticed many people making stew from a lot of things in their life right now, rather than tossing out what should be considered garbage.

Metaphors aside, what I mean is that during this season of spending most of our time alone or locked in our homes, we have a tendency to stew (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) on issues more than usual. We may find that little slights and hurts we would have let go a few weeks ago, now seem to sit and steep (like a teabag in water) in our hearts. Something that we may have processed through and discarded as being a misunderstanding, suddenly has more weight as we begin to ruminate on it. What accounts for this change?

A few short weeks ago, when we could interact with others on a normative level, we could (hopefully) process through slights, hurts, mistakes, and mix-ups. I know many people don’t and still make stew in the ‘normal world’ as well, but it is easier for most of us to process when we can do so face-to-face. I have come across people recently who are dealing with interpersonal issues that, at one time, would have not even been on their radar…and I believe it stems from our closed-off lives from each other. In keeping with my metaphor, it’s also important to understand that these strange circumstances have created a pressure cooker of an environment for many of us. We’re faced with the stressors of a harmful illness, financial insecurity, loneliness, disruption in our normal routine, and challenges in our family roles. The weight of these things can color our perception in a way where we are much slower to extend patience and grace to the people around us.

While I am not calling for us to break county regulations and start gathering, I am asking that all of us strive to be a little more connected. Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! Yes, our unity is easier when we are together in person, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be unified even in social distancing. The technology we have today that allows us to be connected in these moments is amazing, and if you feel yourself getting worked up, making some sort of stew in your heart, reach of out to someone for some interpersonal interaction. Take stock of how the coronavirus has affected you and remember that it may be affecting others in similar, or even more difficult, ways.

Heb 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. The Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Thess 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. Some of us need encouragement now more than ever, as we are in an unprecedented season of life. Please don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you if you need encouragement and remember to be a source of encouragement to others.

Believe me, I understand the frustration of wanting to be out and enjoying normal life again. I too feel the weight of little things that sit upon my heart in overbearing ways. What has started to happen in my heart, though, is a greater appreciation for the little interactions I have always had and yet taken for granted. 

My encouragement for you, in this stage of our isolation, is to not make stew in your heart when feeling let down or misunderstood by others. If anything, reach out and talk to those around you via Zoom, Teams, Facetime, Messenger, or whatever app you use, because nine out of ten times if we don’t, we will find we were making stew instead of learning to “dwell in unity.”