The cascading impact of Covid-19 is a shared reality, but a sometimes-unique experience. A mentor of mine recently posted these wise words from Pastor Sam Barbar offering unique historical insight worth consideration. I identify as a “near miss”. This virus has impacted people I know personally and care for deeply. I also hold very close to my heart the responsibility I carry as your Executive Director. It is my blessing to lead Pregnancy Resources in a manner that seeks to protect the health and well being of our clients, our partners, and our team members and honors our commitment to providing life-affirming help in moments of crisis. This has resulted in decisions that were sometimes difficult but necessary: how to serve clients well, how to safely perform center operations and provide services, how to guard the health and safety of our team members, and how to appropriately facilitate our 30th year Celebration Banquet to name just a few. As you read the words of Pastor Sam, know for certain that you are loved, you are respected, and, even when we don’t fully agree, you are a valuable part of the Pregnancy Resources Family.
A Canadian psychiatrist, J. T. MacCurdy, in his book The Structure of Morale, postulated that the British citizens under assault from the German Luftwaffe in World War 2 were sorted into three groups: those killed in the bombings; those who experienced “near misses;” and those who experienced “remote misses.”
“Near misses” were those who felt the bomb blasts, witnessed first-hand the carnage, yet survived. These people, as a result of their up-close experiences, became ultra-vigilant in their efforts to avoid being killed by the bombs.
“Remote misses” were those who heard the planes, saw a glow of explosion, but were too far away from the bombs to experience them up close. These people had quite a different view of the bombings. This group experienced a sense of euphoria that they seemed to be living “charmed” lives and developed a sense of invulnerability to the bombings. Some even chose to remain in London during the raids so that they wouldn’t miss out on all the excitement.
More than an intriguing history lesson or psychological observation; this phenomenon helps to explain much of the division in our country in these days over the stay-at-home type restrictions that are in place. I think that those who have not really been impacted by the virus have developed a “remote miss” kind of mentality that causes them to doubt the severity of the times. Those who have lost a loved one or themselves suffered with the virus have a more “near miss” kind of mentality, remaining vigilant in their handwashing and social distancing.
To date, I am a “remote miss” person. I know of people who have suffered, but no one very close to me has been infected. I confess to struggling at times with the question, “Is it really that bad?” I’m quite sure if I worked in a metropolitan emergency room or stood vigil beside the bed of a loved one, I would have a very different perspective.
Today I’m trying to let my personal thoughts and emotions be influenced by our common faith. I know all too well how I tend to respond, but I have chosen the way of Jesus and the way of Jesus is never only about me. The way of Jesus reminds me that redemption has always been expressed in love. Having chosen to follow Christ I am now shaped by Christ’s love. It is a self-sacrificing, others-first kind of love. It is this love that becomes the lens through which I view the present circumstance.
Christ’s love compels me to think of you before I think of me. It reminds me to hold in tension the extremes of being a germophobe and a libertarian. We are being asked to walk the tightrope between public health and the freedom to earn a living. These are complex circumstances, but the people of God are up to it. Guided by love, we can move cautiously ahead, testing the uncertain waters of relaxed restrictions while practicing the best of public health. It is this middle way approach that gives us opportunity to both relax and remain vigilant. It is love for both the physically vulnerable and the economically stranded.
Christ’s love is the means to the new normal of balance between public health and personal freedoms. Christian, you are equipped to move confidently into uncertainty, and you must lead the way. Let the love of Christ be your touchstone.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.[a] 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
I Peter: 1: 22-23, NIV