Could it be that we’re really getting to the end of winter and the end of COVID? Today it kind of feels like it.
Olivia and Cor went back to school today. They had an extra-long Spring Break, extended on the front end by their own bouts with the Coronavirus. For the rest of the school year, the plan is for them to be in class four days a week. The last year has taught me to not take anything for granted. Still, it’s hard to see what might derail those plans now. Kent City School District teachers have been vaccinated. Our kids have achieved natural immunity. We’re hoping for smooth sailing.
Elliot seems to have restarted his life, too, following his time with COVID. He and some friends have been apartment shopping the last few days. They seem likely to sign a lease this week. He is finally leaving the house to live on his own. It’s kind of sad and happy at the same time. His current natural immunity will dovetail nicely with his eligibility to receive the vaccine. Consequently, he has a much longer “leash” for extending his social, employment, and academic prospects.
Marci and I are now more than a week-and-a-half past our first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Some studies suggest that we’ve already attained 80% protection. Next week’s booster shots should bring us up to 95% protected. With the kids back in school and everything, Marci is especially appreciative of our quiet house. And I’m really excited to have the world opening up for ministry and other pursuits. Our church finally has enough people registered for our Local Spring Break Experience that I can start to get excited about that. H2O’s Smoky Mountain Retreat in May feels similar. And with personal trips planned to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Pacific Northwest, it feels like the world is opening up to us again.
My parents should achieve maximum immunity later this week, which will feel like another significant marker. And it just feels like the United States is getting ready to turn the page on this chapter of history. I’m still sobered by the fact that many parts of the world are not so fortunate. Our planet will be dealing with this pandemic for many months to come. Even here in the United States, there will be more who get sick and die. I don’t love all of the political tensions that we have to deal with. And I don’t love all the problems of regular life that will come rushing back to take the space of all the COVID problems.
Mostly, though, I’m thankful to feel some of the pressures of this pandemic abating.
I’m praying a lot these days, as the pandemic pressures ease. I’m praying that I can increase my capacity for grace. Specifically, I’m praying to understand, appreciate, and apply God’s grace for all of the brokenness we’ve experienced over the last thirteen months. Where do I need to have my own heart shaped by God’s grace? And where do I need to extend God’s grace to others for the ways they might have contributed to the brokenness of the last year?
We’ve all made difficult choices through this pandemic. We’ve taken different approaches. But the effect of these differences has not been neutral.
I think that 75% of my overall motive mix throughout the course of this pandemic has been good. God-honoring, others-oriented, solid motives that have minimized harm and maximized help. Maybe even as high as 80% or 85%. But I must confess at least some component of sinful, self-centered thinking in my approach to COVID. Many of my choices have revolved around what’s most convenient for me. As a result, I’ve come through this thing relatively unscathed. I’ve got my health and my job. I haven’t lost any loved ones to this virus. But I realize that not everyone has had the same luxuries.
Furthermore, I’ve realized that I’ve got control issues that have manifested themselves through this pandemic. More than anything else, I worry about being the culpable party in the event of any sort of COVID transmission. That might sound others-oriented. But it’s also kind of about me. I want to maintain a sense of self-righteousness. I might be a little too proud of the way I’ve handled this pandemic.
God is working on my heart. I want to prioritize others, especially now that I’m being vaccinated. Especially when others act differently or think differently or speak differently from me! I want to extend and exude a lot of grace and care and concern for others.
I still don’t understand why some people don’t want to be vaccinated. It doesn’t make sense to me why so many have preferred to pretend like the pandemic wasn’t a real threat. I may always feel like the alternative approaches to COVID have been driven by self-preservation, or self-soothing, or selfish ambitions. But it won’t help much to harp on the differences or the accusations. The main thing that will help us to pick up the pieces and move on with our lives is grace and forgiveness. I’m thankful that I feel healthy enough and privileged enough to be an agent of this grace — so I’m going to try and stay focused on this mission.