Just about 11 months ago we were settling into the idea that COVID-19 was going to be bad.
We had no idea how bad things could get. None.
As of today, 500,000 Americans have lost their lives to this pandemic. By comparison, the entire population of Sacramento is 494,000.
What if I’d told you 11 months ago that everyone living in Sacramento would be dead in a year? You’d probably report me to the police.
We Are Numb to the Loss
It’s not merely the loss of life that has left us numb to the losses we have collectively experienced. We’ve each lost so many aspects of our lives that we can’t quite grasp it all anymore.
A couple of years ago I read a novel about a young boy whose childhood was lost when his country thrust him into World War II. He wasn’t a soldier, he was a boy. But as the culture around him prepared for war his childhood evaporated. Inside he was still a boy, trying to figure out who he was in the world, who he wanted to be, what his role in life might be. Yet outwardly he was forced into the primal thinking of a soldier. He didn’t hate his enemy, he merely wanted to survive from day to day so he could go home to his family to resume his childhood. It wasn’t to be. There was no family or childhood waiting for him back home. All was lost.
I think many of us feel like that young soldier. We’ve been forced into a battle we didn’t want, in our own ways we each deny it’s impact on our daily lives, but together we are left with no choice but to try to survive.
We all want our pre-pandemic lives back. We didn’t choose the moment, the moment chose us. At the same time, it’s also settling in that we can’t go back to January 2020. In so many ways, we are forced to take the L and move on.
But that’s not how loss works. Yes, it’s about surviving. But it’s also about working through the pain of the loss. We can’t tuck the loss under our belt and pretend it isn’t there. Well, we can… but that will lead to all manner of problems for us in the future, like justifications for anger, self-destructive behavior, or an otherwise emotionless existence as we cut ourselves off from facing the losses of 2020-2021.
As each of us sees glimmers of hope on the horizon of a post-pandemic life, I think each of us has a responsibility to ourselves to make time to process our grief. That path will look forward for everyone. Yet I think it’s a path we all need to go down if we’re to find true recovery.
Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.Matthew 14:31-33
One thing I knew about myself prior to the pandemic which has continued to play itself out is that I can’t sit still. It’s not that I’m impatient, it’s that I’m made for action. It’s not that I’m reckless, it’s that I’m determined to find a way. It’s not that I’m lacking in fear, it’s that I don’t let fear stop me.
For me, moving forward in faith during the pandemic has been about counting the cost and figuring out what I can do as opposed to lamenting about what I can’t do. Maybe I can’t do everything I want? But that doesn’t mean I do nothing.
Let’s do something to keep moving forward because the cost of sitting still is too high. And if you don’t know what to do, do something for your neighbors.
11 Months Out
We’ve rounded the corner on the pandemic. As of this moment, more than 14% of the U.S. population has now been vaccinated against COVID-19. And as we approach late Spring and Summer 2021, we can see things gradually, slowly at first, then suddenly: reopening.
I look forward to my post-pandemic moment. You know, that moment in the future where each awakens to the reality that it’s over– like not just over on paper, but over for us personally. I think for every person it’ll be a powerful moment of epiphany. That’s a thought that drives me because I can’t wait for my moment.
Maybe, for me, it’ll be relaxing with friends at a pub? Or maybe it’ll be screaming my maskless face off at an Aztecs game? Or maybe it’ll be an evening meeting on a PPM mission trip somewhere? Or maybe it’ll be Kristen and I sitting on a beach in Hawaii? (Please!) But I look forward to the moment ahead, in dark moments I like to daydream of that moment when I can look at the pandemic as something in my past and not something in my present.
Until then, I move forward in faith.