I have skin in the game. There is a blatant, nasty divide between the maskers versus the anti-maskers. There is a deep rift between the Covid 'vaxxers' and the Covid 'anti-vaxxers'. There is so much darkness right now, there is hate and anger and exhaustion.
I understand it.
I have skin in the game. I have literal skin and tears in this pandemic. So many sit at home, voluntary or sometimes involuntary because the pandemic made it that you have no other choice but to stay home, but what I am getting at is that I have skin in this game and I really do understand the frustration and rage.
I have been an ER nurse working the front line in the worst of the pandemic when our small city was making world news for the highest test positivity rates in North America. I have been screamed at and sworn at. I have gone 19 hours without a break, or even water. I have gone 19 hours in full protective gear, drenched in sweat and without food, water, or a break AND I have been screamed at for not moving fast enough, for not allowing support people in to see their loved ones even though I did not make the policies. I have witnessed with my own eyes people dying alone because they cannot have family or visitors during a global pandemic.
I have been yelled at so publicly in triage, that I broke. The tears welled up as I saw her angry face yelling at me, threatening to report me, and I couldn't breathe. I couldn't do it anymore. In that moment, I broke and I publicly sobbed so hard I was heaving and streaming tears into my goggles and mask in a full room of Covid positive patients, lab and x-ray technicians, people waiting to be triaged, our triage clerks, they all saw me crack. I sobbed so hard I was gasping, and the lady who was yelling at me came around and started to console me. She said, "I can see that you are under a lot of pressure and that maybe we were being overworked." She put her arm on my fully protective geared shoulder and I sobbed harder. I couldn't see through the tears. I kept gasping for air. I remember my co-workers watching me between their overloaded workloads. I do not remember everything I said but I do remember between sobs trying to apologize to her saying "I was not trying to be rude, I was just following rules and trying to not drown. It's so hard to please everybody."
I left triage for a few moments to try to compose myself and stop the sobbing. My charge nurse told me to take a few minutes to compose myself in the break room. So I did. My head was pounding from hunger, thirst, and crying as well as from the goggles and mask. It was at this moment that I received a group message from an Anti-Covid family member blasting this "Plandemic", saying it was, "all made up and a government-led lie."
For me personally, the timing could not have been worse. No matter how many times I asked this member to "Please stop sending these messages." The messages didn't stop and I had no reserve left to cope. I was broken down and utterly defeated. I was walking the front lines, literally seeing humans struggle for air, clinging to life while this family member from the comfort of her home and Facebook blasted and blasted this fake pandemic. I became angry.
Why do I say all this? It actually has nothing to do with sides. It has nothing to do with whether you are FOR or AGAINST masks and vaccines. It is simply to show you that I have skin in this game. I have experienced the hate first hand. I have experienced the anger first hand. I have experienced the desperation first hand. I have had my face shared on anti-Covid conspiracy websites. I have been threatened. I have received hate messages, swearing and cursing me from people not even in my province, whom I have never met.
There is SO MUCH HATE right now.
My light went dim for a while after that experience. There were days it was so dim that I cried on my bathroom floor and I felt despair for the second time in my life. If you have ever felt despair, you know what I mean when I say that it was horribly dark. There is so much darkness right now.
It took me a few months to slowly, and step by step find joy again. I accidentally came upon a video by Rick Warren titled "Defeating Discouragement". I watched the whole video. (I highly recommend this video if you are battling discouragement right now). I did not realize that dark, heaviness...the despair that I felt for so many months was discouragement. Rick talks about 4 points to defeating discouragement.
1-Rest my body
2-Reinforce my weak areas; I needed to :
-Honestly assess where you are most vulnerable.
-then I needed to Reorganize, Reorder my priorities and make a New Strategy.
3-Refocus on God
4-Resist the discouragement
And that is exactly what I did. I needed to REORGANIZE. Up until that moment, it had been about what side I was on in this Covid Pandemic versus what side you were on. I needed to REORDER my priorities. It was not about who was right or wrong anymore, it was about how I was going to honor Jesus. I could not shine light while being so caught up in who was right and who was wrong. That took all my energy and focus. And quite honestly, I watched as we Christians tore each other down, especially on social media, and I was disgusted with what I saw happening from Jesus' followers in my own community and around the world.
"Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world, if you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life." -John 8:12 NLT
How many of us have been light to those around us? I am talking to Christians here.
Honestly, has your actions and your words been LIGHT to social media? Have your words been light to your friends and family groups?
I realized that I needed to REORDER my priorities. It was no longer about being right (whatever that is), it was about LOVING my neighbor. First and foremost, I am a Jesus follower. That means my life needs to shine. I cannot be anger and bitterness to this world, no matter how right I feel.
My job is to be light to this dark world.
"You are the light of the world-like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly father."-Matthew 5:14-16
We are light in this dark world. Let your good deeds shine out for all to see. But it doesn't stop there, look WHY we are to let our light shine. "So that everyone will praise your heavenly father." People praise God when they see YOU shine. How can we be witnesses in this world if we Christians are ripping each other apart and tearing each other down? God is NOT HONORED by that behavior.
He is honored when we shine for Him. And how do we shine? We take the high road, and forgive and let go. We walk the extra mile. I had to forgive that woman who caused me to break in the ER. I had to forgive my family member. I had to admit that there are many perspectives on this pandemic. I had to forgive the haters who were so willing to hate me and swear at me and curse me even though they never met me. I had to realize that being "right", whatever that may be, is actually NOT the point.
"If you love each other, all men will know you are my followers." John 13:35 NLV
Are we loving each other?
It is easy to love someone who agrees with you, but are we loving those who believe differently than us? As Christians, we are not called to love selectively. I think we have forgotten that.
The second greatest command, only second to loving God, is to love your neighbor as yourself.
"Jesus replied, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"-Matthew 22:37-39
Who is your neighbor?
-The employee who is just trying to do their job
-The one who masks
-The one who vaccinates
-The one who doesn't vaccinate
-Our government (See Romans 13:1-2)
-Those who look different than us
-Those who believe differently than us
We do not get to pick and choose what we believe and what we act on in regards to the Bible. It is truth and you have a choice to make.
Will you be light in this darkness?