COLUMNS

Smile, God Loves You: The way to recovery

Tiffany Chartier
Special to Texoma Marketing and Media Group

Face masks fall somewhere between binders and composition books on the new school supply list. Crayola has already packaged a five-pack of reusable cloth face masks to be sold alongside markers and finger paints. School districts are trying their best to follow mandated guidelines, which are often presented to them in a fluid stream of murky clarity and fickle consistency. It seems what we know and what we do not know about COVID-19 are equally concerning, and the way we have responded as a whole is anything but unified.

Many kids want to return to school; they have lost a certain child-like spark in being secluded from their routines, teachers, friends and even their not-so-friendly peers. Not being seen, hugged, high-fived, or heard is a stripping of normalcy. And in the nakedness of normal, children and young adults become vulnerable to loneliness, apathy, and emotional bursts (internal and external).

Parents weigh the risks and benefits of allowing their children to return to school, enrolling them in district-provided online learning, or providing home education. No one choice explicitly guarantees the best mental health, physical safety and successful path. There are many paths; we must accept and honor tough decisions made during this unprecedented time.

The best thing we can do is judge less and love more, recognizing this is an unsteady time for us all. There will be many expressions and words muffled behind masks. Breaths of warm air will fog glasses and frame faces concealed with cloth rather than showing off summer freckles, a new set of braces, lipstick or the beginning and end of a smile. But we will do what we can to help protect one another. Because even in our weariness, agreed or disagreed approaches, we recognize this will not get better unless we become better together.

Everyone has been affected by COVID-19, some infected. Many businesses are struggling, and marriages are strained. Unemployment in this recession has impacted everything from our pocketbooks to our pantries. The elderly in assisted living and memory care homes are often neglected as they cannot receive in-person visitors, and workers on the frontline are nearing burnout. We are up against something that spreads without fear of political affiliation, spiritual health, gender, disability, race, color, sexual orientation, age or financial status. And fear wins when we allow it to turn us against one another.

The greatest concern is not whether we agree, but what are we willing to do together despite varying views?

There are a few things we can do:

Recognize Satan loves to see Believers bicker. Wrangling in drama takes the focus off God’s power and highlights our limitations. Let the drama stop with you. As the saying goes, “we don’t have to subscribe to everyone’s issues.”

Post what you love rather than what you hate on social media. Spend less time pointing fingers at opposing views and more time using your fingers to type an encouraging word to a hurting world – the world in which you live.

As Christians, wouldn’t it be more fitting to use our time to love others than to judge? A sinful nature resides in us all. We are sinners in need of grace. Perhaps the individual who causes you tension is precisely who God put on your path to demonstrate the grace of Christ.

Cultivate a habit of gratitude and express what you see that is good in others. Reach out to people – let them know you are thinking about them. Listen more than talk.

Make healthy decisions for you and don’t compromise the health of those around you – whether it be adhering to proper social distancing, wearing a mandated face mask, eating well, developing a balance of exercise and rest, meditating in the Word, or simply speaking life-affirming words into your day. Intentionally live. Today is what you have been given – how well will you live within the breaths you take?

Limit noise and invite peace. Safeguard your body, heart, mind, and soul from contaminants that disrupt your focus on God’s abilities. Protect your peace.

Christ knows the way to recovery, and it begins with grace and love. Grace to come to Him; love to allow Him to lead. And in this way of living in grace and by Love Himself, we will create a new normal, one which showcases how we are better together – how we are His – the very truth that reminds us we are more alike than different.

SGLY, dear reader.

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.