Even as I am grieved and aggrieved at masks, social distancing, and other evidences of people tormented by Fear and lies, I am glad of the changes I see. In me.
After the third “encounter” with extremely aggressive and just plain demented-by-fear folks because my mask was below my nose, I am at a good place with it all. I am in a place of prayer, day in and day out, and all the day long. And even as I want “the end of masks forever and ever amen” all of it is growing me, hooray.
I wasn’t always so sanguine, and handled each mask attack differently. To the first “helper” I said, “I don’t need a mask, I have Jesus,” which caused him to physically jerk and jump, and then scuttle away as quickly as possible.
I wasn’t feeling so smug after subsequent incidents. “You’re not that special,” I said to three store clerks actually shouting at my husband and me across the store (about 30 feet away). We turned and left the store, where they no doubt lamented the idiocy of stupid old goats like us who are too dumb to understand the importance to us all of wearing the masks.
Then there was the wild girl who looked like she was about to lose it, so I pulled up the mask and said just loudly enough for her to hear as I left the store, “Shove it up your ass.” Yay, Bev. Way to go! That really was brilliant and beautiful.
And then. She was a young mom who just really, really, really got under my skin. If you’re a bit “mature” as am I, you know the one. She thinks her child is the first and only and she’s God’s golden model of excellence in motherhood. Along with that pride, of course, is the knowledge that anyone past fifty is passe, and must be helped and educated and somehow tolerated. Just the memory of that encounter. Well, I didn’t say much to her, as she made it clear that listening wasn’t her strong suit. But I lost my joy over it to the extent that I had to come up with a strategy.
Obviously, I reasoned, these helpful little darlings aren’t going anywhere (there have been two more happy times to date). I had gone through the usual prayers of repentance, forgiveness, etc. but I couldn’t shake the aggravation of Super Mom. Finally, I did two things: I made a plan for exactly how to handle it next time; and I gave her a name and went to work in prayer.
I named her Amanda and her baby Chloe, and prayed for her husband, home, finances, everything that came to mind. I prayed her free from fear. And I determined that the next encounter will go something like this:
Helper: I’ll need you to pull your mask up all the way and keep your nose covered.
Bev: Oh, certainly, even though I can’t breathe and it’s very unhealthy, and the masks don’t work. I’ll do that for you, and listen to your views about this, and very respectfully, and in return I’d like to ask you to listen to my views about the real reason, even deeper than those I mentioned, about the mask.
Helper: OK (not looking very ecstatic so far).
Bev: The real reason is that Jesus is my healer. I haven’t been to the doctor since my last child was born twenty years ago, and (if there’s a child) I can tell you how to raise that child free from the torment of Fear.
Helper: Uh . . . (she very well may leave with a pithy comment about my selfishness and ignorance, punctuated with sighs and eye-rollings, in which case we hope Bev’s best laid plans don’t fly out the window as she blows it yet again). But let’s just suppose things remain civil.
Bev: Here’s my card. I’d love to talk to you about this. And pray with you. You don’t have to live in fear. Call me. Really.
Helper takes card and I ask if she’s brave enough to shake my hand. I ask her for her name and tell her I’m going to pray for her, assuring her that I’ve been where she is, only probably much more fearful, as I was a world-class worrier once upon a time.
I hate Fear, and I hate the author of it. The Great Deceiver, Father of Lies.
If you’re under the dominion of Fear nothing I can say will change your mind. The mask, may I suggest, is your God. But could I implore and beg you to look at the words of God, the deeds of Jesus. “For God has not given us a Spirit of Fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.” You can’t have it both ways, if you bow to fear, you will be powerless, unloving, and not of sound mind.
Let us all pray for victory over Fear. Let us pray for each other and let us be changed. Amen.