Lately, at least to me, it seems the world around us is lacking in the love department. We all know that 2020 was a rough year for most. We are all still reeling from the effects of an ongoing global pandemic: illness and death, financial distress, failing small businesses, depression and anxiety, unemployment, food shortages… the list could go on forever. On top of that, racial and partisan divisions seem to be at a boiling point as riots continue and we have even seen our very own Capitol temporarily taken hostage and our democracy threatened. I saw a very funny meme a few days ago that pointed out the pronunciation of our new year is “2020 won” Unfortunately it does seem like we have all let 2020 get the best of us.
If you look back in our more recent history, tough times are usually something that unites us. Even if only for a short time, we have been able to put our differences aside and see each other as human, instead of as a color, or as a republican or a democrat. It has been so disheartening to watch as the struggles of our current times have turned us against each other. That we have allowed something as simple as a face mask, to cause division and incite hatred. I am not making light of racial and political struggles, because I know they are very real. I am just saying that there seems to be something major missing in our country, and I think it is love. We are all too busy thinking we have been wronged in some way, or that our struggle is worse than someone else's, or that no one understands us, or that “our” particular interests are not being represented. We have lost sight of our most important and most basic job, to love one another as Christ loved us. You may come back at me and say that the people causing the most trouble, are not believers, and you may be right, but I am willing to bet that most of the loudest mouths, and the biggest troublemakers in our society right now, would claim to at least believe in God, and would probably even claim to be following his will. I know you will also say that there is plenty of good still happening in the world and we just see the bad. I know that too, but just to be clear, there are a lot of serious, bad things happening. Things that are important, and need to be addressed, but if we as a whole, can’t figure out how to approach those situations first with love, and respect for our fellow man, we will never be able to overcome our differences.
Don’t worry, I am not about to take a political stance, or force my personal beliefs on you. I am getting to the “love” part I promise! The truth is, I have been feeling a little overwhelmed. 2021 is off to a rocky start. We are facing many unknowns and uncertainties. It is easy to get swept up in the craziness of the world, and forget that we can all move mountains, if we start with ourselves, with our own families, churches, businesses and communities. I was reminded recently, in my daily devotional, the importance of focusing on the unfailing and incomparable love of the Lord. Psalm 118 was the scripture that went with the devotion on the particular day I was reading, and it happened on a day that I truly needed to hear it. The Lord reminds us over and over that His love endures forever.
As Tara and I were brainstorming about the Spring schedule and our themes for the year, we just kept coming back to “share the love”. We are all given opportunities, everyday, to share the love. Whether it be kindness to a neighbor, patience with a trying customer, food to shut ins, a prayer for those who are hurting or struggling…. this list could also go on forever! It is easy to get wrapped up in joy and happiness at holiday time, but we are hoping that we can encourage and ignite you to make a conscious effort to show some love in your community. Reach out to families that are suffering the loss of a family member, send a card to a family member you haven’t been able to visit.
Here’s another challenge for you. Yep, you know I have to bring it around to loving your community and your small businesses! Send your community leaders an encouraging note to tell them that you appreciate the work they are doing. Get involved in a community project. I can promise you that now, more than ever, volunteers are needed! Don’t forget to shop small this Spring. It is easy to remember at holiday time, but your small businesses need you all year. Be mindful of where you are choosing to spend your money. Think of the businesses that are the lifeblood of your community. I promise you that 2020 wasn’t kind to them. Think of the businesses that you would miss if they weren’t there any more, and make it a point to support them when you can. Even if it is just once a month.
We have come up with a fun little way you can choose to “share the love” with one of your favorite small businesses. We are selling these cute little stickers, created by 1 Canoe 2, as a fundraiser for our local Downtown Development Association.
Our DDA has taken on the tall task of turning an old, abandoned property in the heart of our downtown, into a lovely pocket park.
As you gear up for this season of love, we hope you will be mindful and take the time to think of others, outside your family or friend group and share the love.