Is this okay? Is this safe?
Several weeks ago I tagged along with a good friend at her Church for a women’s brunch she invited me to. Over the course of two hours we sang worship songs, listened to a Christmas message and chatted with the women at our table. I honestly have never seen a room filled with so much joy and love among strangers. It took my breath away.
I felt those two constant nagging questions in my head, the same questions that have been present in my head anytime I am around people.
Is this safe? Is this okay?
The pandemic still rages outside these walls and yet here are these women, inside, some masked, some not, praising Jesus and loving on each other regardless. What am I missing here? Is this okay?
For the better part of two years, many of us have carried this very fear that if we are near anyone, we also risk them dying or someone we love dying. This is trauma that will live in our bodies forever and sometimes I wonder if this has already had a worse impact than actual covid would ever have.
But here I was at this moment in this random church. In a room of women on fire for God and happy to meet me, a stranger. Happy to give me love without judgment, happy to be in close proximity with me even though they did not know me. This felt foreign. But the joy of it all gave me such peace. Peace I have not had in a really long time. And I have not been able to stop thinking about it.
We are wired to love people, to be in community with people and when we are not doing that- we suffer. But how do we honor that in a time like this? I’ve struggled so much in my soul with that question. It doesn’t feel right to treat strangers like lepers. It doesn’t feel right to shame or judge other people constantly for their choices. None of it has felt right, but I also understand how we got here.
After leaving that brunch (ironically a few weeks before covid would begin to spread like wildfire around me) that peace inside me grew. Not because everything is okay, but because I let go of control that it was my job to make it okay.
It has become very obvious in the last month that vaccinated or unvaccinated- we will all test positive for covid at some point if we haven’t already. It will happen. It is already happening. The virus is closing in around us. I don’t go a single day without knowing somebody who has it or has been exposed. Doesn’t matter if they were careful or did all the right things. And at this point I’m just waiting, I am done running from it.
This virus is not going anywhere, but our mental health is deteriorating.
We have become anxious. We have tightened our control on something we have absolutely no control of. The only way to truly ‘control’ this thing is to not live. To stay isolated in our homes from everything and everybody. So to save ourselves and others from death, we are slowly dying inside and becoming more divided than ever.
Somehow being afraid is being painted as being ‘good’. Staying away from people and judging and shaming strangers for their choices and views from our little screens has become social justice. And while this started from a good place of love and protecting the vulnerable- it is obviously far from that anymore. And I am not on board.
I will always be on board for doing what is truly right, and I do really believe the intentions of most were right from the beginning, I know mine were. I wanted to protect people. I had a parent with Cancer, I have a beloved 90 year old grandpa. But as time went on, I have had questions. Things were not lining up and I became uneasy by what I was reading and seeing. And although I cannot see myself jumping into a mosh pit and throwing all caution to the wind, I absolutely cannot live in fear anymore.
I will respect others’ comfort levels and honor their fear and feelings just like I appreciated when others did the same for me, it is not my place to tell people what to do with their worry and fear. But for me- I have got to let go.
Just recently I was talking to one of my best friends about this very thing. Her little sister who is grieving and going through a very hard time got COVID and was going to be alone on a day that was already going to be very hard for her.
What did my friend do? She went to her sister’s house. She sat with her. She made sure she was not alone covid or not.
Her words: “I was not going to leave my baby sister alone on that day, she needed me. I would rather get covid and be fine, then let her be alone.” I had tears in my eyes when she was telling me this. Because gosh, she was so right.
Love over fear.
When my Step-Dad passed away from cancer in the height of 2020 covid- people flooded our house. We didn’t expect anybody to do so because of the circumstances and quite frankly it made me really nervous at first. But my family and I were shattered into pieces, so there was really no room to let the nervousness overcome the fact that in that moment, we needed love. We needed to be held and supported.
Love over fear.
Fear certainly has its purpose at times- keeps us from getting too close to a cliff, tells us when to run from danger. But we were never meant to run forever. We are not built for that. Letting fear be our one and only guide, leads to quite a miserable life. We should know, look around.
Is anything ever 100% safe? No. And yet, it will be okay. Ironically we have to get over our fear now to choose love again.