When we were attacked by terrorists on 9/11 I told my children to watch carefully, as heroes would emerge. And they did, in countless number. Today, as a pandemic sweeps our globe, there are individuals all over the world who rise up and help each other.
This is a scary time. But I’ve noticed that something happens when God’s children are put to the test. They rise. They fight through fear and serve. Even the ones who don’t know they’re God’s children—that basic human goodness emerges. Yes, we must practice social distancing, but that doesn’t mean we need to become self-focused.
Parents who are confined to their homes with their children have an incredible opportunity to teach other-centeredness. Most of the time our kids are immersed in school, sports, music, and dozens of commitments that leave little time to teach this crucial lesson.
Yet, even when quarantined, there are so many ways we can still reach out to help those around us. You’ve seen many examples on social media. Here are a few I hope you’ll consider at this time when kindness needs to trump selfishness:
- Deliver a care package to someone’s porch. Include staples hard to find, if you’ve stockpiled or already had the food storage our leaders have long advised. Remember their pets with a little treat, too.
- Call the lonely. Reach out to those you minister to, but also to people who simply come to mind when you pray, “Who needs my help?”
- Start up an online family newsletter (kids can compile and edit the stories and photos) to let loved ones know how you’re all doing. This is an opportunity to forge strong family bonds, forgive old slights, make friends of your relatives.
- Set an ambitious Family History goal and find new names in the easier-than-ever computer programs we now have. Paint a giant mural of a tree with names on every leaf. Make traditional treats honoring your heritage. Print up a coloring book featuring print-outs of family faces. Finding names is temple work, too. And remember to journal your thoughts about the pandemic.
- Take an old table or bookcase, and set it on the curb with a sign telling neighbors to take what they need. Now load it up with everything—including toys and books—that might help your neighbors through this crisis.
- Buy gift cards for upcoming holidays—even Christmas. You know you’re going to need them, and doing it now might help a small business stay afloat.
- Order meal deliveries for those who cannot risk going out in public. Hire local caterers whose business has all but evaporated.
- Write a letter. Yes, that all-but-lost treasure still exists. When was the last time you opened the mail and saw a friendly letter? It’s almost unheard of. Yet what a thrill, right? We love to see someone’s handwriting, to know the time they took, to have a tangible expression of their love. We save these things because they mean the world to us. Those you know feel the same way.
- Get creative, thinking how you can hire someone who’s unable to work right now. Could a substitute teacher tutor your child online? Could a construction worker fix your fence? What are some chores you could hire someone to do that won’t compromise social distancing? Is there a teen in your area who’s a tech wizard? How about a one-hour phone call answering all the computer questions you have? Who’s out of work but has a talent (cookie baking?) you’d happily pay for?
- Share your talents. I saw a photo of two little kids giving a cello concert to an elderly neighbor sitting some distance away on her own porch. Your three-year-old could call people and sing a cheery song to them. Or you could make up a “We’ll get through this together” song and go caroling at a safe distance, or carol by Facetime!
- Model optimism. If you cave in to panic and mob hysteria, your kids will adopt your same anxiety. Instead, use this as a chance to show how we handle emergencies. Show reliance upon God and faith in Him.
- Help your kids look up scriptures that address every concern. Our award-winning topical guide can provide you with immediate comfort. Look up words like fear, hope, healing, calm, peace, prayer, fellowman.
Yes, we live in “interesting” times. We need to be prudent and cautious, safe and well. But we must rise above the frantic worry that could so easily cripple us, and use this as an opportunity to learn greater love for one another. Christ taught that we are to reach out to succor one another, to meet the needs of those around us. What a grand time to show what we’re made of.
Hilton’s books, humor blog, and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Interfaith Specialist for Public Affairs.