The devastation that COVID-19 has caused in the global community is difficult to assess, but I think everyone would agree that it has been massive. Painful realities accumulated day by day. There was a staggering loss of life. Heartbreaking stories of loneliness as people suffered in hospitals and nursing homes alone. Many of us settled into a foggy mental confusion as we tried to figure out how we were going to address this in our own lives. The vulnerable have never been more vulnerable.
One area that is often overlooked is the way that Covid undermined relationships among friends and family. One family member is quarantined while another family member is maskless wandering around the grocery story. One friend is carefully sanitizing hands while another friend is still shaking hands with people. We can be standing six feet away from the person in front of us in line at the store while we can feel the breath of the person behind us on our neck.
The messaging didn’t help at all. I don’t have to point fingers. We all know that there were mixed messages. Some of them were from scientific gains in knowledge. When you learn more, sometimes the message changes. Some of the messages were politically motivated. Massive organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization had problems with succinct and consistent instructions and information. Daily ‘updates’ from Governors and Presidents were common.
Even so, there was massive disagreement about the nature of COVID-19 and how to deal with it.
That’s where I saw relationships being undermined. Friends were leaving snarky posts on one another’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. Blanket expressions of dismissal and pronouncements about motives cut away at relationships. Accusations abounded. Reposting half-truths as if they were the total picture. Labeling people who do wear masks and people who do not. Ridiculing people who were vaccinated; ridiculing those who would not be vaccinated. People lined up behind their favorite sources of information and took offense at any challenge to them. I think people stopped listening to one another and took to their feeds to participate in a war of posts.
I’d like to say the Christian community did better.
I’d like to. But I can’t.
I wonder what damage has been done to our relationships in the church? Will those harsh words and accusations be forgotten? Will we be able to talk to and love one another while the names we were called linger in our thoughts?
Physically separated, ideologically at odds, emotionally estranged. Covid undermined our relationships and as sure as we are going to have to do whatever we can to win the victory over this virus, we are going to have to rebuild the connections we have with people.
“I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet…” – Amos 7:14
Depending on who you listen to, we are either headed toward normalizing our lives again or we are headed toward a massive resurgence as Governors remove restrictions. I honestly don’t know. But after all the involuntary losses I do not want to lose the relationships that mean so much to me.
I’m going to have to see the person behind the argument, and love them.
I’m going to have to understand that not everyone will see things as I do. And be ok with that.
I’m going to have to forgive others when they fail to realize how their statements hurt me.
I’m going to beg them to forgive me when I failed to love as I should have.
I may not be able to prevent an invisible virus from creating destruction in our world, but I can do all I can to cultivate love and forgiveness in my personal world.
There have been a lot of losses with covid. Let’s not let our relationships, our families, our churches, our friendships be among those losses.