“For you were called to freedom, brothers [and sisters]. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:3).

For Christmas, we bought each of our children and their significant others masks we thought fit their individual personalities. It seemed to us a reasonable gift, seeing as, despite 2020 nearing its end, the need for mask-wearing was not.

Quite honestly, even in our own family, we don’t all agree on the importance of such. Bill wears a mask daily–at work as a healthcare provider, as well as while out to protect others. Allie must wear one while attending school in-person (though it too often slips down, warranting her a reprimand), and we both wear one when out, as well.

Other family members, however, unashamedly question the need for wearing them–stating that the enforcement of such is an infringement on one’s personal liberties. Like many, they proclaim, “It’s my right not to wear one”–believing that being forced to do so, though only a single step, is dangerous, a paving stone on a path toward the loss of freedoms. And we understand this viewpoint.

Still, we peacefully agree to disagree. To us, wearing a mask is a simple act of consideration–a protective measure to others more than to ourselves. After all, very few unmaskers can honestly say, “Because mask-wearing might hurt someone else, I choose not to wear one”? Furthermore, we’ve not yet been asked to deny our faith with the wearing of a face covering; thus, it seems to us the safer choice–at least until sound evidence proves otherwise.

In a nutshell, we personally feel wearing a mask errs on the side of caution, aims at the greater good, though we understand that those who think differently defend their stance–stating that liberty lost for one will eventually erode into liberties lost for the masses.

Masks–they’re just one of the conundrums that Covid-19’s introduced. These paper or cloth contraptions–whether plain or patterned–that cover most of one’s face, leaving only the eyes to express emotion. They’ve created anger in some, sadness in others, and have left everyone a bit confused.

Still, whether we’re a masker or an unmasker–believe our actions benefit another, physically or ideologically–shouldn’t our aim simply, yet profoundly be–

Another’s greater good?

In our attempt to prevent the spreading of a virus, we’ve largely become an inconsiderate, unkind nation on both sides of this issue. We quibble, squelching others’ views with our loud talk. We bicker and bellow–drowning out our fellow man, both family and friends. We’ve even made foes of some and haven’t given folks a fighting chance to find common ground, a vital ingredient of blossoming friendship.

We speak falsely of others to defend our views, often robbing another of his or her right to think differently. Too many, maskers and unmaskers alike, have become myopic–so nearsighted we can’t see beyond the tips of our noses. In short, such is dangerously selfish and, left unchecked, is destructive.

The mask issue isn’t really a “political” one–politics being yet another thing that so often brings out the unkind in many. More than once, we’ve talked about how confused we feel about our personal stance on the topic. We have conservative friends who are unmaskers, yet proclaim they’ll be first in line for the Covid-19 vaccine. We have liberal friends who never leave home without their masks but are hesitant to receive the vaccine. Personally, I’m a masker when out but am personally unsure whether I’ll get vaccinated any time soon, and I’ve likely offended some because of my indecision.

Does anyone else find all this confusing? Confusion often causes fear, and fear kills kindness like nothing else. Why? Again, because fear is a sort of selfishness (focus on self), whereas sincere kindness is steeped in other-ness (focus on others).

Personally, I know I’m a selfish girl. There’s no doubt about that. I battle fear and defensiveness. I judge too quickly. I raise my voice with indignation more than I offer the gentle answer, which, the Bible says, turns away wrath. I often forget to speak truth with love. I’m a sinner, but for the grace of God….

And I’ve been thinking. With all the division in our country, in our world, no matter where one might stand on the single issue of masks, what if we each thought about the word “M.A.S.K.” another way, as a simple question instead–

Might America Spread Kindness?

Rather than thinking of a mask as something that stops the spread of a virus, instead of seeing it as an infringement upon one’s rights, what if we saw each one as an opportunity to share kindness? Speak the encouraging word. Offer a helpful gesture. Act respectfully, even when we might disagree. Exhort when necessary, but share truth with gentleness and love.

When one chooses to put on a mask or even chooses not to, may the object itself serve as a reminder to be kind, in any and every manner of speaking. Because kindness is rooted in Christ’s love, and love never fails.

Yes, even in these trying times–where there’s more than a virus spreading, our nation suffering from a pandemic of political unrest–remember the words of Paul, who knew something of tumult and trials, unrest and riots–

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love (I Cor. 13:13–NLT).

Oh, please help us, kind and loving Savior. Only You can enable us to live with freedom–faith-FULL and hope-FULL, where there’s no room left for fear. Jesus, fill us to overflowing with Your love. Then, with kindness our only weapon, help us change the world and be light in the darkness. 

So be it!

(Listen to this beautiful song by Brandon Heath, and be encouraged!)