“Social distancing” is a new term for me. I understand its importance, so I am following the recommendations given to us by health professionals during this coronavirus crisis.
But as I sit at home and think about it, I realize that, in a way, I have been practicing social distancing my whole life. I keep my distance from those I deem rude, loud or obnoxious. I separate myself from those who are angry or annoying and those who don’t seem to have my best interests in mind.
In turn, I can become judgmental, impatient and intolerant. My thoughts and attitudes toward others sometimes end up no better than the behaviors that bother me so much.
When someone hurts me or pushes me away, I have no way of knowing the underlying reasons for their behavior. They may have deep wounds that have never healed. They might be battling insecurities, depression or anxiety.
I often forget that they are broken just like I am. It’s so easy to make excuses for my own negative behavior. It’s much harder to remember that other people also carry pain and disappointment that shape the way they act.
I’m not suggesting that we excuse wrong behavior, but keeping these things in mind can help us view others with compassion and show them grace. In most instances, we would do well to move toward people we find difficult, not away from them. It’s hard to hate someone once you know their story.
Here’s a tip for writing to your students this week: Encourage them to remember that everyone has a story—even those who are difficult to get along with. They are also broken and wounded. They also need grace.
Your students may still need to distance themselves from certain people, depending on the circumstance, but they can strive not to judge them and instead exhibit a calm, peace-seeking attitude toward them.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
Serving alongside you,
Church Mobilization Director
Crossroads Prison Ministries
NEWS & NOTES FOR MENTORS
- Because staff members are working remotely and volunteers are not able to serve in their usual capacity, we are not currently enrolling new students. We hope to begin doing this again soon as long as we can find a steady rhythm with our new process that allows us to continue serving our current students well.
- We have been so encouraged by the recent Zoom calls with mentors! It was great to see so many of your faces and hear from you. We will continue hosting these calls; watch your email inbox for invitations.
- More than 200 Crossroads mentors can’t stay connected with us through email. Several of you have volunteered to call them regularly to offer encouragement, give them a sense of belonging and keep them updated. If you would like to serve in this way, please contact Joni at 616-208-1480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.