I started to write about goal-setting and avocations today, but it didn't happen. Coronavirus got in the way. Instead, I offer my thoughts on reacting and reaching out (in a social-distancing kind of way, of course). #socialdistancing #avocation #goalsetting #love #pandemic

I started to write about goal-setting and avocations today, but it didn’t happen. Coronavirus got in the way. Instead, I offer my thoughts on reacting and reaching out (in a social-distancing kind of way, of course).

I started to write about goal-setting and avocations today, but it didn't happen. Coronavirus got in the way. Instead, I offer my thoughts on reacting and reaching out (in a social-distancing kind of way, of course). #socialdistancing #avocation #goalsetting #love #pandemic

In Search of a Place to Pee

“Let’s stop at that McDonald’s so I can grab a coffee and use the bathroom before we switch drivers.”

“Sounds good,” Pedro answered. He pulled the truck and trailer into the lot.

“I feel like I’ve been here before,” I joked.

“It’s starting to look like home,” he said.

In the past five months he’s made the trek between Holbrook and Reno three times. The first time, I went with him, and we’d stopped at the exact spot—a lonely McDonald’s on the edge of a tiny town in the middle of nowhere Nevada.

I hobbled inside (we spent our week-long vacation getting his parent’s home in Reno ready to sell), eager to find the bathroom. A “No Restrooms for Customers” sign hung from a barricade of chairs and trash cans that blocked the way to the bathrooms. Another sign warned me to stay at least six feet away from other customers and that absolutely no more than 10 people could enter the restaurant at a time.  

I wanted to react with snide comments about whether or not the employees had to wait until quitting time to use the bathroom. Instead, I quietly placed my order, wished the worker a nice day, and found an open port-a-potty at a gas station across the street.

A kind employee came out with hand wipes for me after I finished. “I just want to help,” she said with a shrug. “It’s the least I can do in a bad situation.”

I want to act like her during the pandemic.

The Virus isn’t the Only Thing That Spreads

The day before, fast food restaurants remained open for takeout, and the restroom facilities open for customers. Twelve hours later, it had changed. It seemed illogical that all the businesses along a lonely stretch of highway would lock their bathroom doors.

Six hours and fifty minutes of closed bathroom doors. Four-hundred and thirty-nine miles with nary a tree beside the road. It seemed like a public health crisis in and of itself. Brought on by another public health crisis—COVID-19.

As I write this, it seems as if a lifetime of changes have taken place in less than two weeks. Nine days ago, stores ran out of toilet paper. We laughed and joked about why people needed toilet paper for a virus.

I started to write about goal-setting and avocations today, but it didn't happen. Coronavirus got in the way. Instead, I offer my thoughts on reacting and reaching out (in a social-distancing kind of way, of course). #socialdistancing #avocation #goalsetting #love #pandemic

Two days after that, the governor of our state closed all the schools for two weeks. An extra week of vacation, I silently celebrated.

Starbucks announced they would remove the seating inside their restaurants in order to facilitate social distancing. At least order ahead and the drive-through remain open, I thought. Although I mourned the internet and a comfortable place to write.

I needed bleach and vinegar to deep-clean at my in-law’s. A quick trip to Wal Mart on Tuesday yielded nothing. That last time I’d seen empty shelves in a store happened 35 years ago when I went shopping in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.  

One by one, businesses closed their doors for regular business. Hotels and casinos in Nevada closed down, and the possibility of getting stuck in the state nibbled at us as we rushed to get the house ready to sell. A house that probably won’t sell until this pandemic dies down.

Frustration Leads to Reaction

My daughter had a fever and went for testing yesterday—the flu test came back negative, so they gave her a Coronavirus test. She’ll know in two weeks whether or not she has it. Frustrating that in an era of medical miracles she won’t know whether or not she has a potentially deadly virus until after she recovers.

It seems as pointless as buying excessive quantities of toilet paper based on rumors of a virus. Panicked people do illogical things. Frustration over lack of resources (whether toilet paper or one-day testing) makes people lash out at each other.

A friend inadvertently got into line in front of someone at the cash register, and the person muttered to his companion, “I hope she gets the virus.”

How quickly the world as we know it can turn upside-down. It reminds me of the uncertain times following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The world as we knew it changed the day the twin towers fell.

But we adjusted to the new reality. Longer lines at airport security. Waiting for your loved ones in the airport lobby instead of at the gate. Higher gas prices. Distrust for anyone different. Somehow, our new reality opened the door for more than distrust.

Along the way, we as a nation picked up our bully stick and started to use it on each other. As well as on those wanting to come in. We have forgotten basic human kindness and dignity in our stampede to make America great. Fear stands between us and the stranger on the street who doesn’t look or act just like us.

Reacting or Reaching Out?

Each of you has your own story of bewilderment, shock, frustration, and fear. In these uncertain times, we have two choices. To react or to reach out (figuratively, of course).

During times of uncertainty, let us remember that we don’t control the world, and God never asked us to bear that burden. He did ask us to love. Fear looks like reaction. Love looks like reaching out.

Reaction looks like rudeness in the checkout line or unkind comments on Facebook. Reaching out looks like only buying what you need and showing appreciation for those who continue to work to keep us supplied and safe.

Reaction looks like seeking a scapegoat. Reaching out looks like putting on a mask and knocking on your elderly neighbor’s door to see how you can help.

Reaction looks like quarantining yourself from other cultures. Reaching out looks like taking the gift of time to listen to other stories. I highly recommend the Audible version of Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie—I haven’t finished it yet, but as I listen a whole new world of stories and realities has opened up to me.

Reaction looks like answering Doomsday’s knock. Reaching out means finding ways to promote healing.

Reaction looks like answering Doomsday's knock. Reaching out means finding ways to promote healing. #socialdistancing #pandemic #love Click To Tweet

Reaction sounds like complaining about entertaining your bored kids. Reaching out sees this as an opportunity to get to know each of them on a deeper level.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

This started out as a post about goal-setting and avocations. But it quickly detoured into something else. Yes, time off work may give you opportunities to pursue an avocation. But what if we all turned loving our neighbor into an avocation?

What would the pandemic look like if we cloaked it in love and prayer? How would the world change if reached out more and reacted less during uncertain times?

I leave you with these words from the Apostle Paul:

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, allpurpose garment. Never be without it.”

Colossians 3:12-14 MSG

What one thing can you do to reach out today?

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  1. Great post Anita!
    Checking on others to see if they’re okay & covering this viral time in prayer is my love in action at the moment.

    Though social isolation is unfortunately my norm with autoimmune chronic illness, it’s not the norm for everyone else & it can lead to depression so checking in on them even with a text or phone call is important!
    Bless you,
    Tea With Jennifer recently posted…Overwhelmingly, overwhelmed!My Profile

  2. Anita, such a post that is needed right now for all of us. Love this ” Fear looks like reaction. Love looks like reaching out.” because it is so very true and exactly what we need to be taking note of. We are called to love. No matter what, love! God doesn’t say love only if they love us….He says love one another. I hope your daughter gets to feeling better very soon!!

  3. Anita,
    I can think of no better avocation than to Love each other! This line really jumped out at me: ” Fear looks like reaction. Love looks like reaching out.” I pray that I will be quick to reach out. So glad the Lord changed your blog post…I think we all needed what you were guided to write upon.
    Bev xx

  4. So well articulated, Anita! The comparison to 9/11 is an excellent one. Such times remind us of how much we take things and one another for granted on “ordinary” days and how truly extraordinary “ordinary” days are if we take time to notice them. Not unlike 9/11, we have no certainty of how long this new way of living will be in place or what life will look like on the other side, but we do have a choice about how we walk through this and how we treat each other.

  5. So true, Anita – panicked people do illogical things. Stressors like the pandemic reveal our true character. How we react to daily inconvenience matters. Let’s respond with kindness and compassion like the gas station attendant. Praying for your daughter!

  6. Interestingly–blessedly–I’ve experienced the opposite in my community….As closures mounted, I ran to the post office to procure enough stamps for my Postcrossing habit, and people were kinder in line than ever before. (My PO branch is known for some grumpiness.) People in our Olde Town shopping district have intentionally been ordering take-out food–and even beverages–from local establishments, out of concern for these small businesses surviving. Expressions of love and inclusion and regret for what we can’t control abound. Maybe it’s because we have loads of sunshine in Colorado, and that truly is a mood booster. I can’t say what it is or why it’s different than so many of the other stories I hear. Like the employee offering you hand wipes–let’s just keeping thinking ‘More of THAT!’ Beautiful post; I love your storytelling, Anita. Thank you.

  7. Anita, thanks so much for this inspiring post urging us to “put on love” and do what we can to help and spread hope and cheer. Blessings to you! xo

  8. Great advice here, Anita! As my pastor was reminding us yesterday, there’s a lot we can’t choose about this situation, but we can choose how we respond.

  9. Anita, what a beautiful post. Even small love gestures can be meaningful. What a thoughtful thing for that McD’s employee to do for you. Thank you for the reminder to reach out rather than react. I’ve really had to re-learn how to focus my heart on Jesus in the middle of all of this. And reaching out is a beautiful way to reflect Him to those around us.

  10. Yes! Great words of encouragement, Anita! We don’t have to let this turn us into uncaring bullies, but we can use it as a time to show love in whatever ways we can, even offering a wipe. I hadn’t thought about bathrooms being closed along a trip, but that makes sense I suppose. Makes me second guess any future road trips for awhile. 😉 (Not that I have ANYTHING planned. lol)

  11. I want to promote healing! I wonder if one thing we can all do is just smile at people as we pass them 6 feet apart. LOL

    I’ve also vowed to not hoard. It’s crazy seeing all the shelves at stores empty!
    Jerralea recently posted…Reminders …My Profile

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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