An Open Letter to My Fellow Americans

May 18, 2020

Dear Fellow American, 

I see where you’re coming from. 

I know you have strong and valid thoughts on this pandemic, what should happen next and when America should reopen.

We all have our opinions. 

But rather than just share my own as if it’s the only opinion that matters, I want to take a moment to empathize with yours. 

To the small business owner, I see where you’re coming from. I, too, ran my own business for over a decade. Mine was in the entertainment industry, and if I were still running the same company today, I’d have no business at all. Not only would my company be out of money right now, but I’d be out of money for months to come with no plan “B” for income. The CARES Act was a nice gesture, but even if the paperwork hadn’t changed dozens of times to make those with limited financial experience feel like they were drowning, the funding made available wasn’t nearly enough to keep things afloat. I totally understand your desire to reopen yesterday because your livelihood may not be able to hang on much longer without some sort of revenue. Let me encourage you by reminding you how strong you are. Not everyone has the willpower to launch, build or buy a business. But you did. This isn’t your first setback, and it won’t be your last. While this might be the toughest situation you’ve encountered thus far, you can get through this. You are creative. You are hard-working. You are driven. I am praying specifically that God will give you the solutions you need to keep on going. 

To the “non-essential” worker, I see where you’re coming from. Not only are you trying to not be offended by the fact that your job has been classified as “non-essential”, but you’re also struggling with the fact that “essential” employees are still getting paid. Perhaps you would rather work and risk getting sick than having the certainty of having no income and the collateral damage that comes from having no paycheck. Unemployment checks might help, but you know those funds are temporary and won’t be there forever. Let me encourage you with this, friend. I truly believe we will come out of this stronger than when we went in. I don’t know how much you like the job you had, but if there’s something you’d rather be doing, now’s your chance to pursue what you were born to do. Switch lanes or switch careers, but as jobs become available again, don’t just go for the paycheck, go for the calling. Whether it’s the same role you had or a new role altogether, I am praying specifically that God will provide you with a job that allows you to capitalize on the strengths and passions God gave you.

To the “essential” worker, I see where you’re coming from. You’ve been working hard this whole time, and while some have had the opportunity to begin new DIY projects at home or take up new hobbies, you’ve been busier than you’ve ever been in your life. Perhaps reopening America sounds exhausting to you because you just need a break. You’d take a vacation if you could, but where would you go and who would cover for you while you were gone? So you keep grinding with little to no appreciation, gratitude or recognition from others. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for your dedication. Thank you for showing up. No matter your role, you are helping to provide stability during a time of instability. Let me encourage you by reminding you that this is just a season, and a time of rest is on the horizon. I am praying specifically that God will give you rest today.

To my fellow pastors, I see where you’re coming from. You are torn about what to do next. Your congregation is divided and everyone expects you to do what they feel is best for them. You know you must lead by example, so you really struggle with the idea of defying your Governor’s orders to not reopen yet. Churches all over the nation are defying their God-given authority, so it makes you wonder if you should, too. But then again, what does that say about your trust in the Lord if you are unwilling to follow the authority which God Himself has placed over you? Your Governor isn’t sinning by trying to protect the public, so you know you really don’t have much of a biblical reason to defy mandates they’ve instituted. Wherever you land, some people in your congregation will likely not approve. If you’re like me, perhaps you’ve also received threats from people in your congregation claiming they’ll leave your church altogether if you don’t do what they want you to do or say what they want you to say. This pandemic is already hard enough to learn how to preach to a camera, lead people via Zoom calls and shepherd others while being socially distanced, but to throw in the divisiveness from within your own congregation and to weigh the potential fallout that might come as a result just makes it all that much more difficult. Let me encourage you by reminding that you were called to this role. This isn’t just a job. This isn’t just a paycheck. You have already impacted many lives of people perhaps whom you’ve never even met, and you will continue to have an impact that stretches into eternity. Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time, you will reap a harvest if you do not give up. I’m praying specifically that you can keep loving others even when you feel you’ve got no love left to give.

To the state governors, I see where you’re coming from. You’ve been elected by your people and you don’t want to disappoint during times like these. Deep down, you want everyone in your state to approve of your decisions, but you learned long ago it’s impossible to please everyone given the plethora of voters who never darkened the box by your name on Election Day in the first place. You’re trying to do what you feel is best, but there are countless factors to consider. Each day that goes by, you make the calls you’ve been granted the authority to make, but it still must be discouraging hearing so much hate from so many so often. Responding to a pandemic is part of your job nobody ever saw coming, and although this couldn’t have been what you dreamed of when you took office, you are still leading to the best of your ability. Perhaps you’ve made mistakes along the way, but after all, you’re human. No matter what you do, you know some people will love you and some people will hate you. Let me encourage you by reminding you that the Bible teaches all authority has been established by God. If God gave you the blessing of being in authority, He must also have the confidence that you are the person to do the job that needs to be done. So Governor, use your God-given intuition, experience and decision-making skills to make the best judgment calls you possibly can. When you make mistakes along the way, take ownership and responsibility, learn what you can do better, and move on. I’m praying specifically that God grants you discernment in your decisions to come.

To President Trump, I see where you’re coming from. You are the face of the most powerful country in the world, and with that comes incredible responsibility. You want to grant local governments the autonomy to do what is best for their state, and yet at the same time, you have to lead the country at large. You know the importance of delegation, but it’s also your reputation on the line. Do you allow state Governors to do what they feel is best, or do you pull rank and tell them what they are required to do? If they refuse to listen to your authority, do you punish them for their insubordination, and if so, what does that do for your chances for re-election from their supporters in their state and your future potential to lead? Every headline from every news agency every night relates to the pandemic, but let’s not forget you still have to make other significant decisions regarding other world issues that simply aren’t making the news as they take a backseat to COVID-19. Let me encourage you by reminding you that wise choices are made in the presence of a multitude of advisors. You don’t have to have all the answers. Listen to trustworthy counsel and allow them to help bear the weight of your decisions. Mr. President, I especially plead with you to seek God and the wisdom you can gain from His Word. I am praying specifically that the Lord will give you wisdom to lead our nation through these tough times with integrity and dignity. 

To those of you who have lost loved ones, I see where you’re coming from. It must sound absurd to think anyone would want to reopen anything right now when this virus has stripped so much from you already. It must seem like people are so calloused and heartless to fight so hard to reopen when it likely means even more loss of life. I can’t begin to empathize with your loss, but hopefully I can encourage you by sharing that you have a God who loves you immensely. Perhaps you have thought more in recent days about eternity than you have in your entire lifetime. The very God who created you also wants to spend an eternity with you. John 3:16 isn’t just a verse on the bottom of In N Out cups; it’s a game-changer that has the potential to transform your life. I’m praying specifically for you that God gives you peace, and I am so sorry for your loss.

To the elderly or those with preexisting medical conditions, I see where you’re coming from. You live in a daily fear that if you come down with COVID-19, there’s a good chance you won’t survive. Just the thought of walking into a grocery store gives you anxiety, much less the thought of reopening the country. Perhaps you’ve already made up your mind that if and when the world reopens, you won’t be coming out. It must feel even more isolating to think about everyone moving on with their lives around you while you continue to remain in isolation. This isn’t what you dreamed of for your glory days, but there’s nothing you can do to change it. Let me encourage you with this, friend. As long as you’re still alive, God’s not done with you yet. Consider the lilies in the field and the birds in the air. God takes care of them. How much more will He take care of you? Cast your cares on Him and live the one life that’s been gifted to you to the best of your ability. We all have our end date, so let’s live each day as if it’s our last. I’m praying specifically that you don’t live in constant fear or worry and are able to live each day to the fullest.

To fellow Christians, I see where you’re coming from. The desire of your heart is to trust in the Lord, but it’s hard to trust in God when so many decisions are being made by men and women who may not have faith in God at all, much less have trust in the Lord. Let me encourage you to be the salt to others that God has called you to be. Salt is a preservative. Are you preserving others or destroying others? Jesus said people will know we are His disciples based on how we love. Are you earning a reputation based on how well you love, or based on how well you divide, insult or tear others down? Please don’t give Jesus a bad name. I am praying specifically that you will represent our Lord and Savior well.

To everyone else, I see where you’re coming from. Perhaps you’re sick and tired of everything being shut down due to a virus that may not have even sickened anyone you know directly. Perhaps you feel all the damage being done to the economy is way worse than what the virus would do to an unquarantined society. Perhaps you just want life to return to normal and you’ve reached your boiling point. Let me encourage you by reminding you that your words and actions carry weight. You have the ability to build people up or tear people down. You may not see eye-to-eye with everyone else, but you don’t need to. You can add to the problems and dysfunction we are experiencing, or you can choose to be part of making this world a little bit better and a little bit brighter. Choose your words carefully, friend, because perhaps this pandemic isn’t as black and white to everyone else as it might appear to you. I am praying specifically that you seize opportunities to bring life to others rather than division. 

To those of you who plan on responding to this message with hate, I see where you’re coming from. It’s easy to respond defensively to someone who has different viewpoints than you. But perhaps we have more in common than you think. We both are American. We both want what is best for our nation. We both are human. Isn’t that enough to try to be unified? I’m praying specifically that we can see our commonalities and have a mutual appreciation for what the other has to offer.  

Friend, we are all in this together. We are all figuring it out as we go. This is uncharted territory for everyone. Let’s try to have some grace for one another and make an effort to see where each other are coming from. Perhaps we can’t have empathy for everyone given the fact that each of us is experiencing something different, but at least we can try.

At least I am. 

With love, grace and empathy, 

– Your Fellow American 

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