I hope you’ve had a great week. This week, along with every other week, I’m grateful to live with people who make me laugh. No matter what is going on in life or the world, my husband and sons seem to find ways to crack me up. I never want to take that for granted.
If you know me, you probably know that I don’t watch TV. I truly do not know a single channel and never turn it on. I don’t have any interest in it. I can get into it when others are watching, especially a game or occasionally a documentary, but most of all, I like commercials. Commercials are more my speed. Short and sweet, and sometimes quite entertaining. The one I like now is the Progressive guy who helps people not become their parents (click here if you don’t know what I’m talking about). The slide to becoming our parents does feel almost inevitable. The coach holds up the artful sign, “Live. Love. Laugh.,” and queries his students, “Do we really need a sign to live, laugh, and love?” They think maybe they do, but he’s direct and firm: “The answer is ‘no.'” The music and the whole vibe add to the humor. But here’s the thing, if we swap out “Live. Laugh. Love.” with another popular home sign, “Gather,” the bit wouldn’t work, would it? Why is that?
First of all, the coronavirus has eliminated a great deal of gathering. My little family of introverts has been relatively unscathed. We spend a lot of time with just us, anyway. My sons have all been back to school since August, and our church meets in person or online. I’ve had in-person Bible study and book clubs that have continued to meet, except now they are outside. We can attend Nate’s basketball games, and limiting our social imprint is entirely consistent with our frequent family card games on weekends. My parents are both deceased and we don’t live near any family. Would I be eager to attend a beautiful dinner party of some sort? Of course! But, I’m not devastated by the absence of such outings either. However, I am increasingly aware that my situation is somewhat uncommon. I see the isolation taking its toll on people. I hear the low-grade depression in their voices. Are we just not concerned with mental health anymore? COVID-19 seems to be the overwhelming health concern, despite the statistics (for example, drug overdoses are truly staggering). President Biden said the death toll is like that of World War II (over 400,000). The average age of a soldier in WWII was 26. Do you know how many Americans have died of COVID-19 in the 15-54 year old demographic? The answer, according to the CDC, is 25,076.
What is the agenda of people who use numbers to so skew perceptions? Losing 400,000 soldiers when the total population of the United States was 131 million is not remotely comparable to losing 25,000 people today. Why do people want to hide the fact that the vast majority of deaths are among the aged? I find it all very perplexing. We are all going to die. Every single one of us. Increasingly the pertinent question has become, how many of us are going to actually live?
But back to the “Gather” sign and the Progressive coach, maybe it’s a reminder we actually do need. The verse I used to name this blog is from Hebrews 10:24: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” But the next verse continues the thought: “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” So whether you have the signage or not, the Bible counsels against giving up gathering.
So how are you doing from a mental health perspective? How about those around you? Do you need to find ways to safely gather as the writer of Hebrews counsels? I hope you have great discernment in evaluating the many risks we face each and every day. I hope you do not fall into the trap of thinking this virus is the only potential harm in the world.
Praying tonight for my family to wisely weigh costs and benefits, to seek first the kingdom of God, and to continually spur one another on to love and good deeds.