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During a time such as this

Masks. Vaccines. Restrictions. Covid. Covid variant. ICU. Hospitals. Distancing.

These words are individual words but carry so much weight during these unprecedented times.

There have been other global pandemics and some not so long ago (think SARS) - but it seems to me that this one is so globally universal that it is quite mind-blowing. There are moments when I can be just sitting in my chair and it just hits me - I am living in a pandemic and everyone around the world knows what I am talking about and we are restricted in what we can/can't do. Wow. That, at times, is an overwhelming feeling.

During this year+, here in Canada, my emotions have been all over the place. Some days I am quite happy to be isolated and restricted from going out. My inner introvert kind of is happy with working at home and not having to go to large parties and outings where I can't hear people or have to drum up conversation. However, some days I want so badly to just go and play board games with family and friends - or sit in a restaurant with friends and chicken wings. I want to get our supper club back up and running and I want family gatherings.

I believe this is what we all want. To be with friends and families -no restrictions.

So it is easy to be frustrated with the process. It is easy to get mad at those who are holding us back. Those who are running around without masks - having large parties - and not being willing to get vaccinated. It is easy to be frustrated with the churches who believe that the building is the church and that is where they need to gather in order to truly worship. It is frustrating to hear people use words like - our freedoms are being revoked - we live in a communist country - we have our rights taken from us.

Wow - we live in such privilege. We are free to pray and preach - in public and online. We can buy a Bible or eight - anytime we want. We can go into grocery stores and buy pop tarts and pizza pops and popcorn and other poppable items - we just can't do it with 100's of people surrounding us. We can buy clothes online and in the stores. We have the ability to use a phone to call Skip the Dishes or our local restaurant and order food. We can walk down the streets and sidewalks. I can go into Coffee Culture - order a drink - pay for it - take it with me - drive in my car - go home to my home and drink it. (I am referring to our privilege in general - i know there are people who are homeless and can't grab a drink at Tim Hortons - but, in our country, we are free to be.)

Now, we are being asked to care for each other - this isn't about ourselves - it is about others. Some people have Lupus, some are battling cancer, some are just older and frailer, some are sick with unknown illnesses, some have asthma, some have heart conditions, some don't have a spleen and infections affect them differently. Behind our masks are things others can't see - but they are there. We are being asked to keep our distance - wear a mask - wash our hands - get the vaccine so that those whose conditions we can't see - are safe. This isn't about me.

When I read the articles out there about conspiracy theories and such - I get mixed emotions - i get angry, frustrated and sad. By sharing those articles with people who are already scared - you create your own conspiracy theory. You create scare tactics - you create anxiety. I have heard stories about elderly people who are so afraid of the vaccine because they have been told that the government can track them if they get the vaccine (not like our phones aren't capable of that already!) - or that they will carry the mark of the beast - or that their sexual orientation will change after they get the vaccine. Where do you get this information? My heart breaks for the little old lady who is so confused by the time she gets to the place where the vaccine is available, she is in tears - her heart is racing, her mind is racing. What good has come from all these 'theories.'

I believe in God. I believe that he brings healing to the sick and loves us all. I believe in miracles. I believe that he holds my life in his hands. AND... because I believe all of that - I also have to believe his son, Jesus. I have to believe that when Jesus says - feed my sheep, I should feed his sheep. When Jesus says, love the least of these, I should love the least of these. When Jesus says - feed, clothe, care for those who are sick for when you do so, you do it to me as well. Jesus wants us to care for the sick. How can we do that? We can pray for them, we can love them, we can bring them soup and we can wear our masks and get our vaccines. Getting the vaccine does not mean I don't have faith. It does not mean that I don't trust that God won't protect me or that I don't trust his sense of timing in my life. It means that I will care for those around me.

Is there a chance I can die from getting the vaccine? Blood clots? Yes. Maybe. But, I can die from COVID AND I can pass it on to the next person who may die of COVID. I don't know how I could live with myself if I found out I was the source of COVID being passed to someone who gets very sick - and/or dies. (Even if it was totally innocent and I had no outward symptoms.) Who wouldn't give their life for those they love?

Perhaps we don't have all the answers re vaccines - there are no 10 year analysis' on the long-term effects (just like there are no 10-years studies on using horse de-wormer or drinking bleach or other self-help items to prevent covid) - perhaps there are things about the vaccine that they will discover later - perhaps there will be side effects that I will have to live with all my life. BUT - if it means that I can stop someone I love from getting COVID and possible dying -it would be no different then if I jumped in front of a car to push them out of the way. I am doing it because I love.

AND - I want to get back to 'normal'. I want to hug my kids and family and friends - I want to play games and swim and soak in hot tubs and eat picnic food together. I want a Christmas family gathering where we are all snuggled tight on a couch and waiting for each of us to open their surprise gift! I want to have a fondue and have everyone stick their fork into the same oil. I long for the day where I don't have to think twice about meeting up with someone at a park or pub or house. My grandchildren want to dance and play sports. We want to go to baseball games and hockey games. I'd like to attend concerts - I want my kids and grandkids to attend concerts and movies and Rainbow Stage! I don't have to think about the mask going on before I leave my apartment or car. I'll take the risk and get the vaccine. (I am one dose in!)

God is in control. And for those of you to whom that means no vaccines - I can understand why you are saying that. I just think there is more to it than that. I know doctors and nurses who are strong Christians and who have researched and looked into COVID and the vaccines - they are telling us to get them. Are they less Christian because of this? I don't think so - they are loving their fellow man. They are healing and caring and walking with the sick. Their faith in God is strong and sure and they know why God has placed them here - in this time - for this purpose.

If you don't want the vaccine or are thinking this is all a conspiracy - just remember the anxious and scared among you - be kind. If you are not an anti-vaxer but don't want the vaccine -that is your choice - just don't use your faith as a way to scare/intimidate those that do want it. Getting the vaccine is NOT a lack of faith - it is faith - faith that Jesus wants us to protect each other.

To those who have had the vaccine and things went south for them - my sincerest prayers to you. I know the sciences are not always perfect. Our bodies are not always perfect and what works for one - doesn't always work for another. For one, Advil is amazing relief from pain - for others, Advil causes them harm. For some, penicillin does wonders - for others it is not good at all. We are imperfect people - our bodies are imperfect and we won't all respond the same - to Covid, to vaccines, to medicines in general. We will not be perfect until we enter heaven and are totally healed. Till then - God has given us great physicians and scientists who are trying to help us be the best bodies we can be.

We have been given unique minds and hearts - we have unique ideas and feelings. I truly want to respect that. However, when our feelings/ideas create chaos for others, then I don't think we are using them well. Let's love one another. Let's care for each other's bodies - and hearts/minds/souls.

Those are some of my own, personal thoughts today as I consider COVID and all that that little word means.

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