I have two school aged kids and to say that the last seven months have been unique would be an understatement. My wife is a public school teacher, so I have had a front row seat from the perspective of a parent as well as a teacher, and it’s been quite a ride. As have many parents at the beginning of this COVID season, we have had many emotions about our kids, from some fear in the beginning to wonder to frustration, sometimes all in one day! These are the unprecedented times in which we are living right now. For a while it seemed like everyday something was different from the day before, and we had to adapt. We are truly blessed with incredible kids that adapted well to the constant change, and my wife is an incredible educator who really walked all of us through that time along with all the students for whom she was responsible. School ended and we entered the summer with a lot of uncertainty about what life would be like during that time. Trips were cancelled and we remained cautious throughout the summer following the guidelines that were laid out by those with more information than we had. We stayed in and honored social distancing. We wore masks because if there was a chance it could save one person’s life, it was worth it. All the choices we made were made out of love for others and not fear.
Now that school has started back up, we made choices for what we thought would be best for our kids and ourselves. There was a huge adjustment for my wife and my boys when school started. There were a lot of rough patches, but everyone made it through, and we are establishing what our family rhythm is during this season of crazy life.
That has been a small look into our experience during COVID as a family of 5 with working parents, 2 school aged children, and a toddler. It has been difficult for each of us in different ways at different times, but we prayed together and God has carried us through. We have friends whose experiences have been different. Some have been chomping at the bit to get back out and go back to how things were before COVID hit. They were cautious in their own way with their family. They have been more out in the world, wearing masks, and wherever they are allowed to go they go. Their views on how to wade through this time of COVID differs from ours greatly. They were excited to get their children back in face to face school, while we are a little less excited about it. They are happy to eat in any restaurant that will open their dining room and we are less inclined to do that. They have no problem getting on a plane to fly anywhere while we are still waiting a little longer before we venture on to a plane.
Our families see things very differently but our friendship are still in place. We respect their choices, and they respect ours. We don’t see some situations the same way, but no one has called anyone else names. Nor do we roll our eyes at each other. There is no judgement from one side or the other. We honor and respect each other not because we agree with each other but because we love each other.
Romans 12:16-18 says, “ Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Sometimes it seems like some of us add, “as long as we are in agreement” to those verses. It may even seem more so in the COVID season. As a result of COVID, there have been many stories I have heard and read of fights in congregations over choices that families are making. We are all making the choices that we believe are best for our families. Outside of being reckless, whatever choice someone makes for their family is the right choice for their family. If they decide to still participate in online church service even though the building is open, that is okay. If a family chooses to keep their masks on even though they don’t have to once they are seated, that is okay. If a family decides that they want their kids to participate in person for school, that’s okay. If a family decides they want to keep their kids home and school online, that’s okay. As believers, we should try to live peaceably with everyone. Calling people out for the choices they are making for their family because it’s different than yours is not living peaceably. With all that is going on right now, we need to do what we can in our power to live in harmony with each other, to support each other whether we agree with each other’s choices or not. I have seen too many believers saying things and posting things online that look a lot like the world and very little like God. It grieves my heart, and I believe it grieves God’s heart too. My prayer for our churches, our families, is that we can love and so far as it depends on us, live peaceably with one another.