There once was a time when my son and I, both wearing our surgical face masks, would stroll into a doctor’s office and people would stare at us with wide eyes and they’d move away from us because they thought we had some contagious disease, but it was quite the opposite. Nowadays people still stare at us, but for entirely different reasons.
Though mask usage gained stardom in the past 18 months, they are not new. People with compromised immune systems, like my 14 year old son Connor, have been wearing masks for years and years. They’re not new; they’re just new to you.
Connor was born with a plethora of diagnoses including an immune deficiency. Our world was rocked. As he grew we learned from his specialists and therapists what would be needed in order to keep him healthy and out of the hospital. Insert my buying surgical masks in bulk every year. Each flu season, doctor visits, airplane rides, crowded places, etc included a face mask donned by not only Connor but also his family. We implemented this strategy just as we did with washing our hands, not touching our face, and social distancing. We know full well that one method isn’t 100% effective, but when used all together it has proven to keep him, and us, healthy and safe. These strategies have been, and still are today, part of our every day life.
In January 2020 as I watched news reports that COVID-19 was spreading throughout the world and had entered the United States of America I became concerned. I ran to my son’s bathroom, opened his cabinet and counted how many masks were in the box. I counted 12. I became more concerned. I pulled up Amazon, where I typically order our masks, and noticed the price gauging and low quantities of the standard surgical masks we bought every year.
As the pandemic flourished in the U.S. and mask usage became a hot topic I watched family, friends, and strangers bicker and become outraged over the use of masks. They argued over the efficacy, they claimed the government was controlling us, they discredited doctors and scientists, they became obsessed over the simplest tool in helping prevent the spread of illness.
Masks have been a critical part in keeping my son healthy and alive, yet so many claim that the usage of masks is “traumatic to kids,” “harmful,” “government overreach,” or “taking away our freedom.” Seeing these words by others hurts my heart so deeply, but it lets me know they are not privy to life with a loved one with a compromised immune system.
Being life flighted to Children’s hospital where a team is waiting to intubate you as your blood pressure bottoms out is traumatic. Spending a month in the hospital after catching the flu from a student whose parents sent her to school despite running 102 fever is harmful. Watching fellow parents of a child with a disability fight the United Kingdom over a court order to withdraw their daughter’s life support is government overreach. Telling those with no immune system to stay home for the past year and a half so the rest of the country can move on with their life is taking away our freedom.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:1
Mask usage has been a normal part of our life for the past decade and my children are not traumatized or sad. They have been taught that masks protect their brother and themselves. They literally think nothing of it. Children watch their parents closely and pick up their opinions and reactions. If a parent hates masks because *fill in the blank* then their child will also hate masks because *fill in the blank*. We parents, especially if Christian parents, should be instilling a love for neighbor in our children, not a love for self. It’s entirely possible to sacrifice for others while ensuring individual rights are maintained. It’s not one or the other.
I try to give grace to others who haven’t lived a life like my family. I really do. Of course, I have had my share of emotional breakdowns and rages directed at others on social media, and I’m sorry for that. I just pray those who do not understand can gain perspective through others experiences – it’s the reason I started writing many, many years ago. The incredibly normal aspect of wearing a mask to prevent the spread of illness in ourselves or others is not political, it’s not woke, it’s not a statement. It’s simply another tool in our toolbox when needed to stay healthy and continue living a fulfilling life on our journey to heaven. Being willing to compromise, get vaccinated, and look after each other is crucial in overcoming COVID-19.
People with compromised immune systems wore masks yesterday, they wear them today, and they’ll be wearing them long after the pandemic is over because masks are effective. They do work. You just have to wear them.
If you can, please get vaccinated, wear a mask when you can’t social distance, and pray for our world. Love and blessings to each and every one of you.