Many of us have experienced what it is like to be told that we cannot be with others during the COVID isolation period. It posed challenges of learning to love others and connect with them in safe ways. Planning any kind of prom, shower, wedding, graduation, or funeral was a nightmare. Humanity longed and prayed for a day when we could be together again in our churches, schools, and communities. Now as everything is opening back up, there is a new divide that is not a virus, but a vaccine. I am not going to tell you what to decide, but I want to encourage you how to love well when there are many different opinions on the COVID-19 vaccine.
The fact is that I know and love people with a variety of resolutions and thoughts when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. Am I incredibly grateful that people I know and love can now get back into their communities because of the amazing protectant against this deadly virus? Yes. Am I also understanding of those who, for health reasons or personal decisions, have determined to wait or decline a vaccination? Yes.
As a believer, there is no Bible passage on vaccination. However, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves and to honor God with our bodies. So how do we love God and others well when everyone is so divided?
1. Pray for Wisdom
It might sound like a “Sunday school” answer, but it is time to pray for wisdom. Not every situation is the same. There are vaccinated people who have not had COVID, unvaccinated people who have not had COVID, vaccinated people who have had COVID, and unvaccinated people who have had COVID. Some of us have been sick ourselves, some have wondered what the virus is because it has not seemed to even come near. Others have lost loved ones this side of heaven from this horrible sickness.
Praying for the Lord to guide you is vital. We need to have selfless hearts and make choices that bless others. Sometimes this means that we are a little uncomfortable, or we respect others in ways that are kind to them. Other times this means that we have healthy conversations to get to know others’ comfort levels. We are in this together and everyone is learning. Grace is key and we need to ask God for an overflow.
James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let Him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given Him.”
2. Listen to a Variety of Voices
In order to have a well-balanced view in this season, listen to a variety of voices. I can see how even churches are struggling in this area. Many times, it can be hard to have differing views on a board of elders, but it can also help a pastoral staff determine how to love their congregation as a whole better. If you are always only with people who share the same view on the vaccine, then it might be really easy to make your decision. But you may not be thinking about those outside of that sphere who have other valid points.
James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
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3. Have Healthy Conversations
If someone is not comfortable to be “back to normal,” it is helpful to know that. If someone is all in and going to the ball games and the restaurants, that is also beneficial information. When we are aware of the comfort levels of other people, we can seek to bless them and encourage them. We can only do this by asking questions.
Have healthy conversations with others and try to gain understanding. Whether you are on the same page or not, you can still find ways to bless them. You could send letters or sit outside distanced from a more cautious friend. You can send game tickets and visit the home of a more sociable friend. Try to connect with others regardless of their level of ease.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
4. Give Yourself Grace and Create Personal Boundaries
This has been a traumatic season for many people. There is not a one size fit all as we re-enter society. If you need more time to ease into larger groups or spaces, that is ok. If you are depressed over the lack of community and ready to jump into large group settings, that is great too. Whatever you decide, make sure you are asking yourself questions about why you feel the way that you do. How are you trusting God? How can you bless others through your personal experience?
It is easy to compare during this “re-entry” period, but instead I want to encourage you to be the healthiest you that you can be. We are all different and have different needs. I hope and pray that everything will be back to the old normal, but I am realistic that this will take time. Always remember that the Lord gives grace upon grace.
John 1:16 says, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.”
During the gray in-between, remember that everything is not black and white about vaccination decisions. Let us do our best not to judge others. Let us pray that the Lord will lead each person in their decisions. May we respect one another in the unknown and newness. In the meantime, we can pray for wisdom, listen to a variety of voices, have healthy conversations, give ourselves grace and create personal boundaries.
Whether you have had the gift of a vaccination or for some reason have opted out, you are loved and I pray that Christ will lead each of our journeys in this crazy time. As the global church, may we not allow this issue to divide us from the greater purpose of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
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Emma Danzey’s mission in life is to inspire young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. Emma is a North Carolina resident and green tea enthusiast! She is married to her husband Drew and they serve international college students. She enjoys singing, dancing, trying new recipes, and watching home makeover shows. During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Currently, she is in the editing stages of her first two writing projects: a Bible study on womanhood and a non-fiction book on singleness. You can visit her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com