This past week, my husband and both of our sons were sick. I don't believe it was the flu, but it was serious enough that they all missed school and work. My husband was the first one to go down. He began feeling sick on Saturday, but after preaching twice on Sunday, was a wreck by the time Monday came around. Coughing, chest congestion and fatigue was his plight. His illness didn't become real to us in the house, until our oldest started feeling ill and missed school on Tuesday. On Wednesday, our younger son and I made a pact that we were not going to get sick. As fate would have it, he missed school on Thursday. At this point, I finally realized that we had a MAJOR problem that promised to take us all under in another day or so. I knew I needed to stop the spread of germs in our home. Yes, we are family and have grown immune to each others system; however, an outside virus or bacteria had infiltrated our little home.
I ran to the local pharmacy and purchased a box of medical face masks and insisted that everyone use one. They laughed initially, but quickly realized that they were protecting themselves from spreading and picking up additional germs. The rule was if you were in your own room, you didn't have to wear the mask; but as soon as you entered the common living areas you had to put one on. Dad continued to balk at the idea, but the more he coughed and received crazy stares from all of us, he finally gave in.
As I was lying in bed, I began to think about what this actually meant beyond the cold. I was reminded of the many times that I spoke out of turn or allowed negative words to exit my mouth. I'm sure this has happened to many of us. We've carried germs ( like a mean disposition, bitterness, harboring hate and sowing seeds of discord) and every time we opened our mouths to cough we spread little droplets of sputum into the atmosphere. Many times those around us noticed immediately and tried to cover their mouths or move away. But many times they entered the room afterwards and unbeknownst to them placed their hands on the table where the sputum landed, subsequently rubbing their eyes, nose or mouth and transferring those germs into their own body. If their immune system was compromised in any way the germs were given license to breed.
So who actually needs to wear a face mask? The one inside the room with the cold or the one entering the room? I say both parties need face masks. One is looking out for others and one is protecting themself. One is being mindful of an intruder and careful not to spread it, while the other realizes that they need a barrier to protect themselves from being invaded.
There have been times when I've played both roles.
I must admit that I've had to catch myself from gossiping and speaking negatively about someone else from time to time. I needed the face mask (the Holy Spirit) to help me bridle my tongue when I really wanted to give someone a harsh tongue-lashing. I've been the one who realized that if I didn't bring myself under subjection and display self-control that I would inevitably spread more hurt, pain, nastiness and negativity. At another point in my life, when I became a little more aware, I would enter a room and recognize that I needed to protect myself from the negativity. There have been times when I've walked into a room and felt the heaviness of the sputum weighing the air down. Sometimes the barrier or face mask was represented by my walking back out of the room, while at other times the barrier was demonstrated by consciously spreading positivity, light and love to those already inside of the room.
The bottom line is we all need to practice mindfulness. If we are carrying infection inside of us, we need to put on a face mask until we can get an antibiotic in our system to clear the germs. And if we know someone is sick, we need to be mindful enough to put on a face mask and remove ourselves from the situation until the air has been cleared and disinfected.
The face mask is designed to block and bless.
The face mask is designed to prevent and preserve.
The face mask is designed to safeguard and screen.
The face mask is designed to forgive and fortify.
Since ALL of us need a face mask for one thing or another, it becomes our job to seek God to see which side of the room we are actually on. Are we the progenitors or the preventers of the spread of disease? Only YOU can answer that question.
So if you need to wear a face mask, don't be ashamed; you have taken the first step in realizing the power of choice that lies inside. What will you choose?
Now grab your face mask and walk it out....