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The most extreme case of social distancing the world has ever know was, ironically, in the very beginning of creation. God made the world, then made a man, Adam. That man was now fully alive and completely perfect in an absolutely flawless environment. I cannot help but wonder how incomprehensibly grand the sunrises and sunsets were in a world without any hint of pollution in the sky. And how amazing must it have been to have all of the glory of the animal kingdom there before him as Adam lived in an unfallen world where nothing killed or consumed anything else?

And yet for all of that glory and grandeur, something was still not quite right. And thus it was that in Genesis 2:18 God looked on that situation and said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." What followed that pronouncement was the creation of Eve, the one woman who knew what it was like to never have cellulite, a bad hair day, mood swings or the angst of looking through a closet and saying "I haven't got a thing to wear!"

Adam had everything, yet he had no one. Until there was another human being nearby, until there was actual human contact, even paradise was "not good."

As I write this, our family is preparing for Thanksgiving and for the entire holiday season beyond it. There is no time of year I enjoy any better than Thanksgiving Day through Christmas Day, with New Year's Day as the cherry on top. This is the time of year that I will be consumed with thoughts of God becoming flesh, carols being sung, turkeys and ham being prepared, trees being decorated, poor families being surprised by the generosity of God's people, the crackling of the fireplace (though, to be completely accurate, our gas logs hiss more than crackle) trips through cheerily lit areas, "Snoopy's Christmas" as sung by The Royal Guardsmen (trust me, it is epic) and all things Grinch, Scrooge and claymation Rudolph.

But among those wonderful things I will also be eternally grateful for the human contact of the entire holiday season.

2020 has been, in many regards, terrible for people. And one of the ways it has done the most damage is by severing the bonds of needed human contact. In everyone's efforts to stay safe and keep others safe, a different kind of damage has been done to far too many.

I do not just preach; I pastor. As such I do a great deal of face-to-face counseling, not just with church members, but with random people out in the community who need help for one thing or another. I freely give my time because God so freely gave himself for me; how could I do anything less? And in the course of doing so over the past several months, I have dealt with an extreme spike in the number of people grappling with deep depression, many of them to the point of utter hopelessness. I do not think it would be a stretch at all to say that the numbers are easily 10 times higher than a normal year. It is the unseen emotional disaster caused by the noble experiment to keep people physically safe, and I rather suspect that across our land there have been and will continue to be people who will go so far as to end it all rather than continuing to suffer through the darkness and isolation.

And then along comes Thanksgiving, Christmas and, for our Jewish friends, Hanukkah, times of faith, remembrance, hope and family. Not to trivialize any of those sacred things, but to me 2020 now giving way to the holiday season feels much like getting hit in the head with a pitch to make it to first, stealing second but twisting your ankle as you slide into the bag, taking third on a single but pulling a hamstring as you do, and then on the next pop up to the outfield tagging up and hobbling for home, sliding in under the throw and looking up just in time to see the umpire smile and see him spread his arms and shout "safe!"

Home. Family. Friends.

There are things in life that are replaceable. Human contact is not one of those things. Had Eve never been created, man would quite possibly never have fallen into sin and had to die. But at what cost? When even God said, "This is not good," you know that aloneness really isn't good.

Some will perhaps react in horror to all of this. Please understand, therefore, that I respect the choice of anyone who chooses to completely isolate for as long as they feel necessary. But I also respect the ability of those who choose another path to wisely and carefully balance all concerns, physical, emotional and spiritual. And I think the holidays are coming around just in time to save many people from completely giving up.

It is amazing what therapy there is to be found in a gallon of eggnog and a couple of pumpkin pies shared among friends and family who just polished off turkey, dressing and homemade cranberry sauce together.

But not canned cranberry sauce. Or factory-made fruitcake. Trust me, even isolation is better than those things.

Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org.

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Pastor Bo Wagner

 

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