Yesterday I received my first (of two) COVID shots. It was the Phizer one. The shot itself was no big deal. It didn’t hurt, sting or burn going in. No after affects as I waited 15 minutes in a chair 6 feet away from other lucky recipients. But this wasn’t MY plan.
That seems to be how life goes a lot of the time. Our plans don’t pan out. I remember thinking I wanted to see for several months how it went. My plan was to watch and wait. Feeling pretty healthy and at low risk for complications if I did get the vaccine, I wanted to let others go before me. My dad is 84 with a serious heart condition and at risk for a stroke. He’s waiting for his turn to get a life changing procedure. If anyone should be vaccinated in my mind, it was him. My brothers and I have been trying to bubble wrap him to keep him safe so he can get this done.
I remember saying back in April of 2020, I am going to get COVID. I was prepared and wasn’t afraid. And I waited. And waited. Yes I wore my mask, washed my hands and followed all CDC, ABC, and EFG guidelines. We sheltered the first few months and then slowly, when I felt safe and we had more information, ventured out into the world for some social distancing events. We had a daughter who graduated high school during the pandemic and moved to college across country during it.
Having suffered from depression and anxiety on and off in my life, I knew one thing about being an introvert, I can’t stay isolated too long. It’s dangerous for me. Mentally, physically and spiritually. So I prioritized my mental health and did what I needed to do, in the most safe way possible to take care of me. Selfish, yes. But at the cost of others, no. I did my best to follow the rules. (It’s a type A and enneagram 3 kind of thing. #rulefollowers)
I think if COVID has taught us nothing else, it’s that everyone’s needs (emotionally, physically and spiritually) are different. These needs should also be respected. I am not asking anyone else to follow the same path I am, nor do I judge others for the choices they make to take care of themselves. It’s part of what God gives us, free will. Now I don’t think anyone should be reckless with their free will but there are so many long term effects this pandemic is going to have on not just me, but my family and friends.
Being in the mental health field has its advantages during a time like these. I need to practice what I preach and also show compassion for those who are suffering. While some fields are shrinking, the need for mental healthcare is not. It’s hard to hear and see the stories of individuals and families struggling. The blessing of COVID is that seeking help is becoming less taboo and more of a proactive step in creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Which brings me back to why I got the shot yesterday.
I don’t know what all is in the vaccine, if it’s going to work, if it’s safe or if I’m going to have some sort of longterm side effects from getting it. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a scientist. That is not who God made me to be. He gave those gifts and talents to other people. So I chose faith yesterday. Not in other people, but in God. I trust that in order to do the work He has called me to, I need to be around people. And right now, for me, that means a shot. What else I do know is, I am someone who needs to be with my family and friends for support, encouragement and strength. I am someone who is in an office that has people I do not know coming in and out a public door. Many are desperate for help and they need more than a virtual telehealth visit can give. I am running a business that encourages, leads and guides women in their day to day lives and I want to see them face to face this coming spring. Therefore, I will do what I need to so that others feel safe around me. The vaccine isn’t about me. It’s not about what I want right now or giving me comfort. It’s about the gift I might be able to give someone else because I’ve taken a step, that was offered to me for free, to get a vaccine that will prayerfully eradicate this horrible virus.
My choice doesn’t have to be your choice. But we do need to choose compassion and understanding as well as respect for those around us. Last year was hard, this year needs to be full of Galatians 5:22-23.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Living day to day,