As we talk about masks, vaccines, and our individual rights, everyone seems to have strong feelings. Some see the public health crisis as a clear justification to require all to be vaccinated. And many of them are afraid of what will come if we do not get the virus under control. Many see no room for any discussion around risks of vaccination. I know my tendency is to fall into this group, so I am trying to be aware of that and be open to hearing others’ perspectives.
On the other hand, some see the call to be vaccinated – or to share their vaccination status – as an infringement on their individual rights. Many of them are afraid of what will come if the government continues to infringe upon their rights. I’ve heard “God is in control” used as a reason not to wear masks or get vaccinated. But I wonder why some think they need to fight God’s battles for their individual rights but not for public health.
As I was contemplating this, I realized that it’s not important which side I end up on. Instead, what matters is what is motivating me. Am I advocating for vaccination out of my own self-interest or fear – or am I advocating out of love? Similarly, are others advocating for individual rights out their own self-interest or fear – or are they advocating out of love? It’s hard to see the difference when we don’t allow ourselves time to pause.
We’ve been working with my youngest on the pause. His mental health challenges cause him to react rather than respond to his emotions. It’s like a switch is flipped instantly, with no room for reasoning. His new medication is helping with that, allowing his mind to slow down and be able to think before acting. Today, he fell and scraped his knee. He came inside crying with blood dripping down his leg. I went to the bathroom and cleaned it up with him. A little later, he came into my room and told me he was proud of himself for crying instead of lashing out as he usually would.
I wonder how often we do this. We see something that triggers fear, anger, or shame and then we react immediately. The feelings are overwhelming, so we need to do something. For me, this often is triggered when I have feelings of shame or worthlessness, when I begin to think that others don’t care and that I don’t matter. And it’s hard to sit with those sorts of feelings, trying to entangle them from years of messages we have heard or told ourselves. It’s easier to distract ourselves or pass those emotions onto someone else.
But what if instead, we paused? What if we didn’t do anything until we knew we could do it motivated by love? How different would our world look?
So I challenge you to ask yourself today: what is my motivation? Am I driven by love?