When all this covid-19 came to Colorado, I started a website to remind myself to not be afraid. I called it donotfear.today, not to do anything except remind myself every day that I don’t have to fear for my health or my wealth, that my ultimate faith is in God. I think it’s important to remember why we shouldn’t be afraid: it’s not because I think God will protect me and save me. He might not. He might wipe out both my health and my wealth in this situation. I don’t trust God because he promises to save my life, I trust God because he is Good and he redeems all things.
I am beginning to think that I should have created a website called DoNotBeAngry. I can’t go anywhere without seeing anger. I know anger has always been around, but anecdotally, this time seems much worse. Calling it anger almost doesn’t feel right, it’s more like fury. Everyone is furious with each other. And I am right there alongside it. After 10+ years on Twitter, I finally deactived my Twitter account because I would read the things that some people I know and love would post things that would just enrage me. I already wrote about putting away anger, so apparently this is one of the things God is going to teach me about in 2020.
I want to focus on a couple things that have been giving me hope lately. Not because I think we should bury our heads in the sand and forget about the bad things (we should learn from the past so we can improve in the future), but because I’m just tired of being furious all of the time.
For one thing, I am super darn proud of Colorado for our collective response to the covid-19 situation. I’m not talking about any government, I’m talking about us, the people. Collectively we saw the exponential growth, we understood this was a brand new virus that we didn’t know (and still don’t know) that much about, but what we knew was alarming. It was alarming because we all have people in our lives that we love and care about who are older or have cancer or asthma or are otherwise at greater risk, and when it meant jumping on the grenade to protect them, we jumped on the grenade.
Go you, Colorado. We saw the threat, and we took decisive action. We did it at great personal cost. I couldn’t be more proud of us.
Besides jumping on the grenade, we really stepped up. We broke out sewing machines and ripped up old-clothes and cobbled together masks. We broke out 3d printers and printed some really awesome shields. We gave dramatically and sacrificially to a host of different covid-19 relief funds. We built the plane as we flew it trying to figure out how to teach kids over video and keep them engaged, how to provide food for kids whose only meals come from school, and we adopted out just about every homeless pet in the world.
Of course, not everything went perfectly. We messed up a lot of stuff, too. But let’s give ourselves some grace. This is a disease that a few months ago, none of us knew anything about, and we joined in a global science-experiment. No one had any idea whether we would step up and respond when needed to slow this brand new killer. And we did. I’m so proud of us.
Are there things we should have done better? No question. But we were making it up as we did it, and I think we can be proud of all we accomplished given the situation. But this illustrates something else that makes me proud of us: we aren’t going to be satisfied with a 70\% or even a 95\% response. We’ll study it, and figure out ways we could have done better. I hope we give ourselves (and each other) a lot of grace in this, we’ve been doing the best we can with what we know. No doubt there’s a lot we could have done better, let’s learn from it and apply it to future emergencies.
But obviously we’re not out of the woods yet. We have a lot of broken pieces to put back together. We jumped on the grenade and we wish it hadn’t exploded, but it did. Many people have had their lives blown up by this. Some folks financially, and others because they got the virus and now have complications, or because someone they love got it and didn’t survive. There is a lot of heartache and pain to work through, and more to come.
We stand at a crossroads. Are we going to rage against each other? Are we going to destroy ourselves by hating each other? Or will we continue down the road we have forged together, and lift up those who are hurting, and stand in the gap?
The choice for me is obvious. Honestly, I just don’t have a choice. Jesus told us that the world would know us as his disciples through only one measure: how well we love.
I have never done it perfectly, and have frequently done it poorly. But when I look back at this unprecedented season, I want to know I did everything I could to show how much Jesus loves me by reflecting that love outward.
Here’s how I’m currently trying my best to express it on this random day in May, 2020. As the issue unfolds and we learn more, I will need to adjust these, but this is my most sincere way of loving my neighbor with what I know today.
I’m going to limit my physical interactions with people. I am a social butterfly (at times) and I hate doing this, but I want to be a dead-end for covid-19 as much as possible. I’m not afraid of getting it, what will happen to me will be in God’s hands, but I have a lot of people in my life who I love to pieces and I don’t want to be the reason one of my many friends with cancer has a new problem just from spending time with me.
When I can’t limit my interactions and I’ll be around new people in close proximity (such as at a grocery store), I will generally wear a mask. This seems to be a hot button for some people. The way I look at it is the mask is more about preventing me from spreading covid-19 then preventing me from getting it, and this again goes back to my goal to being a covid-19 dead-end.
If I do have covid-19, since I am young and generally healthy, there is a chance I could be contagious and not know it. So I want to reduce the odds of passing it on to someone else. My understanding of the epidemiology is that if you could get all the sick people to wear masks, the infection rate goes way down. (quantifying exactly how much it reduces the infection rate for covid-19 specifically will take time to research, but my understanding for other viruses is that it is quite significant) So my logic is simple: it’s only a small inconvenience to me to wear a mask, it might make all the difference if I do have covid-19 and not realize it, so why not. I love my neighbor and want to take all reasonable precautions and the best counter argument I’ve heard is that I might do this and someone might get it anyway. Sure, we can only reduce probabilities, not eliminate them. But if I wear a mask and still pass on covid-19, I’d feel better knowing I did everything within my grasp to prevent it.
I am so fortunate that, at least so far, my finances have not changed due to this crisis. As I look upon the world, I know that is not the case for everyone. The US unemployment numbers are so enormous, it’s hard to even grasp. And I want to cry out to God and ask what he’s doing, but I know … I know! … that this will be one of the areas that God turns to me and asks, “Am I not sending you?” Jesus said that when we give, we shouldn’t let our right hand know what our left hand is doing. Our giving shouldn’t be done for show. I know a lot of great organizations that are making a huge difference in the world. I encourage you to sacrificially give to one that is near your heart. Yes, sacrificially. We’re jumping on the grenades, and for some of us, this will be our grenade to jump on.
Finally, I want to love my neighbors better. Like, I just want to be more loving. I keep thinking back to the retirement community that was surrounded by well-wishers. (The picture I took does not do any sort of justice to the enormous crowd that had gathered. It’s hard to photo a socially distant crowd!) The whole complex was surrounded. And I keep thinking of this little old lady on the third floor who was on her balcony chatting with these visitors, waving at them. She had the biggest smile. I have no idea her story, I have no idea who she is, but her smile was amazing. Has she been alone and afraid this whole time? I have no idea, but I know she was neither alone nor afraid at this moment. I want to be more like these people who donned their masks, made some signs, and brightened the day of some seniors. I want to notice my neighbors who are alone. My friends who have no one, those who are in a hard place. And hopefully this one isn’t hard or controversial: I just want to find some way to show up. To say you aren’t forgotten, you aren’t abandoned, and you are loved.
That’s all any of this should be about. Do we have the love of Jesus or don’t we? Let’s show up.