By Jessica Brodie
I don’t like masks. They’re uncomfortable, they’re hot, and they make it a pain to unlock my iPhone because they interfere with its facial recognition security. In crowded stores, they’ve made me feel a bit claustrophobic. They make it hard for me to understand what people are saying between the way they muffle sound and the fact that I can’t read someone’s lips (I’ve learned since COVID that I apparently do this far more than I thought).
Oh, yeah—and they smear my lipgloss and sometimes clash with my outfit.
All petty reasons, but all valid.
Still, I wear my mask.
Thanks to the grueling research, God-given intelligence and discoveries of doctors, scientists and others who’ve learned so much since late 2019 about the way COVID-19 and its variants spread, we know masks are a critical way to protect us against getting the coronavirus or spreading it. Bonus: They’ve also largely helped keep us from getting the flu, common colds and other infections.
This summer, we got a reprieve for a while. The vaccine became widely available for most people in the United States, COVID-19 numbers plummeted and places began to reopen. Mask mandates ended, and life started to go back to relative normal.
But the reality is that as much as we’d like everything to be normal again, we’re still in a pandemic. People are still contracting the virus—and dying. Kids. Moms. Friends. Neighbors.
I’m vaccinated, and so is my family. We’ve all had COVID-19, too, around Thanksgiving. Today, I don’t wear a mask to protect myself against the disease.
I wear a mask to help others around me.
I’ve come to see wearing a mask as a form of Christian love in action. Yes, it makes me uncomfortable. I don’t feel like I personally “need” to wear it. But I know it helps slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. I know it helps make me less contagious if I do happen to be carrying around some germs, which makes me better equipped to help others if needed.
For instance: I’ve been in circumstances when I’ve had to help a stranger with physical impairment load groceries in her car. I’ve found myself talking with a random person in line at a store when we’ve suddenly ended up hugging and praying. I’ve even encountered someone, while hiking in the woods, who needed CPR.
While those in my inner circle are vaccinated, who’s to say someone else, whom I happen to encounter in the world, is? My mask-wearing protects them and the people in their circle.
COVID-19 isn’t “just like the flu,” as I’ve heard some say. We aren’t making a huge fuss over nothing. It’s a real problem, even if it hasn’t yet impacted us personally.
As we go about our lives, I encourage all people to not only get vaccinated but wear a mask, whether or not we are in a place where masks are required.
It really does help. And it is one way we can play a role in helping reduce the impact of a deadly disease in our communities, our region and our world.