Feeling Useful in a Pandemic

Mother’s Day is coming soon. My girls are grown with families of their own, living hundreds of miles away. It’s so easy to think they don’t need me anymore. With the pandemic and the cautions at the beginning, I was still going to work. We were staying distant (There are not many in our office building.), but life didn’t really change. I was surprised when my girls called and expressed concern that I was not staying home. (This was before the order to shelter-in-place.)

I tried to ignore the fact that the girls laughed at me when I said I wasn’t in the at-risk group (over 60, health issues). “Mom, you’re 64. That’s over 60. And, ladies that don’t have all of their lungs need to stay home.” They were right. Even though I felt fine, I didn’t want my girls to worry so I brought my work home and did not go back to the office except for essential things – when no one else was around.

It’s nice to know you are loved. I’ve been enjoying more texts, Facetime, and phone calls through this pandemic. Although they may not call me asking for advice, they do still need me, still want me around. Even if it is to take care of me after all my years of taking care of them.

That same feeling of not being needed comes quite a bit the older I get. There are so many things I can no longer do. It’s sometimes hard for me to let others take care of me, although God has given many, many instances where I need help. Because I cannot be a help to others by delivering groceries or sewing masks, I often feel that I am not useful, especially these days. 

But God reminds me that He can use anyone – even the health-compromised 64-year-old lady sheltering-in-place. First, I can do all things without grumbling or complaining (Phil. 2:14). When people call to check up on me, I want them to hear my smile in my voice. Some things are much harder in a pandemic, but they know that. I don’t have to remind them. Instead, I want to remind them of God’s grace and mercy to us.

I can let people help me and give them encouragement and gratitude to keep doing what they are doing. So, when I ran out of flour and could not find any online, I did ask for help when Lisa from church called to see if I needed anything. Within days, my pastor’s wife and kids walked to my house with a five-pound bag of flour. They felt happy to be out doing good; I loved seeing them for a short amount of time (at a distance), and God was honored.

I can also send cheer. I’ve had more time to write notes to friends and coworkers. I’ve included old pictures of fun times long ago with my notes. Knowing you’ll bring a smile to someone’s face when they read their mail is a great feeling.

I can pray. As people come to mind, I can pray for them. They are experiencing the same emotions and circumstances that I am. Although still working from home, I have more time to do the urgent – praying for people as requests hit my inbox. Taking a moment, stopping, and praying with no feeling of hurry, hurry. I love how these circumstances are erasing years-old habits of rush, rush, rush.

Therefore, I encourage you to take some time and think of the ways that God can use you – old or young, energetic or slowing down – how can God use you? A phone call to encourage your pastor, pastor’s wife, or church secretary? A hand-written note to encourage your neighbor? A prayer of protection over doctors and nurses? Sharing your testimony of what God has done for you with your grandchildren? God is never finished using us in His work. So don’t quit!

Psalm 71:18 says, “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”

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Lynnette Goebel

About Lynnette Goebel

Lynnette is the Director of Operations at RHMA Headquarters in Morton, Illinois. She has attended the same small-town church for most of her life. She adores her pastor’s wife.