“How are you?” I recently asked a church member.
“I’m stuck in a house with 2 teen boys and a husband!” she said. “You know what I realize? I miss missing them.”
I hope Hallmark is tracking with her! “I miss missing you” is a great pandemic word this Valentine’s Day. There is just no easy way to be this close for this long to other humans.
The same might even be true for beloved pets. Our dog now spends part of her day in the back of my closet! I’m convinced it’s her attempt to miss us.
For others of us, these words reflect a longing, in this season of isolation, for another human in the home—someone sitting at the table, a hand to hold, arms to hug. For you, it’s the missing that hurts.
Whether we are missing others or miss missing others, a pandemic Valentine’s is an opportunity to name what love looks like this year.
Read Mark 1:29-39:
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Reflect: In last Sunday’s gospel lesson, Simon’s mother-in-law is healed by Jesus to serve. The verb “to serve” is the same one Jesus uses to describe the essence of his ministry. In other words, the woman is not healed so Jesus has someone to cook him dinner! She’s healed and becomes the first person in Mark’s gospel to follow Jesus. Jesus describes this call, in Mark 12, as one that begins in love of God then love of self so to love others.
Take Action: What does it look like this Valentine’s to love God and yourself, so to love others?
I don’t have your answer. There are days I don’t even have my answer. But, as I reflect on 2020, I give thanks for some of the ways I’ve found to love God, myself, and others:
- Marriage Counseling. We began this year. A friend asked how we’ve made it this long without it! Our conference provides financial assistance.
- “Pastor, who is your pastor?” My spiritual director is an important part of my self-love.
- Do you miss missing them? Run away for a day. $35/night to stay in one of our pastor’s cabins.
- Do you miss others? Prayer texting, pet fostering, and walks with friends are ways I’ve watched others love themselves.
“Jesus lifted her up…and she began to serve.” May you likewise find ways to be lifted up in love this Valentine’s as you serve (love) God and self so to serve others.
Center for Leadership Excellence and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women
We are grateful to the Rev. Heather Rodrigues, Lead Pastor at Duke Memorial UMC, for writing this month’s issue of Encouragements.