Love in the Midst of Covid-19
In the last 6 years of my life, I have been in and out of therapy as I continue to struggle with OCD and anxiety, and one of the central struggles of OCD for me is attempting to satisfy the obsession to never harm anyone in any shape or form. While this seems to be a reasonable way to live one’s life, it can become a snare of idolatry and anxiety. As my spiritual director constantly tells me, we cannot avoid the reality that we will inevitably hurt other people and be hurt by other people in our efforts to be holy and good. Unfortunately, it is impossible to never harm another because of our fallen human existence, but the obsession has only grown stronger with the Covid-19 Crisis we live in. I remember quite vividly one of my therapists telling me that he wouldn’t wish OCD upon anyone during the pandemic since the whole debate of masking vs. not masking up, vaccines vs. no vaccines, and normal life vs. quarantine, revolves completely around the idea of not harming others with this rampant disease. For me, all of life has become a question of how not to hurt others with this new disease, and every choice has become inundated with moral concern and weight. I am constantly berated by my mind to do everything in my power to avoid spreading this disease that I often cannot focus on anything else other than my anxiety when I go shopping, go to eat at a restaurant, or go to Mass (and this happens whether I wear a mask or not). Some days I simply want to give up and stop caring completely about the whole thing, and other days I want to hide in my house and not do anything out of fear I might harm someone unknowingly. It has been difficult for me to find a path that both respects the sanctity of life and respects my lack of control over this virus.
So then, where is God in the middle of all this? How do I love God and my neighbor well in this crisis? Is wearing a mask or getting vaccinated a moral imperative at this point, or should I just live my life as if things were normal regardless of my vaccination status? These and similar questions flood my mind throughout the day, and I find myself thinking of little else other than the pandemic. I don’t know the answers to these questions and am constantly seeking the answers. I wish I could offer simple and direct answers, but I find myself dazed and confused in the middle of such daunting questions. And it seems to me that I am not alone in these struggles. What do we do with this confusion? How do we deal with such uncertainty in our everyday lives?
In praying with and sitting with this uncertainty, these words of Jesus come to mind:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
The narrow path that we must walk upon is the one in which we let God love us and live into our identities as Beloved Sons and Daughters of God. It makes no practical sense and offers no practical solution to the many debates surrounding Covid-19 in our world, yet at the same time, it offers the most practical answer of all. For in the end, there is no perfect answer to our current situation. All answers will be lacking, and we will fall, sin, and hurt each other and ourselves in our quest to respond to this disease. There is no answer that will allow us to escape from the situation we live in, but there is One who desires to enter into our struggles and walk with us as we do our best to love. There is One who wishes to help us grow into loving saints by way of the very questions and obstacles we face on a daily basis. The narrow path simply asks that we try our best to be loved and to love in a complicated and messy world. The narrow path asks us to get up and try our best to be good, and God promises that in the midst of our struggles He will make us holy saints in His Kingdom and that He will lead us along this narrow path. Yes, the process of sanctification often involves much uncertainty, much failure, and much confusion, and we will often have to trust in our Guide as He leads us down a path that we do not know and do not see. But, we can trust that His Love will lead us through thick and thin to become saints who Love God and Neighbor with our entire being!
We are blind and must trust the One who sees us to bring us back to Heaven on the right path. As Jesus says, if a blind person leads another blind person, they will both fall into the pit. So then, Jesus is the only sure guide on our path towards Heaven, and in the end, He is the only one we can trust as we grow in Holiness. Do not put your hope in those who tell us what we need to or not need to do to get through this pandemic safely (whatever the advice may be or whomever the political party may be). Put your hope in the One who promises eternal life, and He will help you become the Loving saint you are called to be.
If you are like me in struggling to find the right thing to do during this pandemic, I encourage you to make a space in your day to leave these worries behind, remember your foundational existence as Beloved, and see how this affects the way you act in your daily existence. He will heal us and make us loving people, but we must give Him the space in our lives to do so. Do your best and trust in the Lord to help you along your journey. May the Lord guide you on the narrow path towards Heaven and may He give you the grace to listen to His Loving Voice. Amen.
This 3rd of January - Year of Our Lord 2021
Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus