No ‘one right way’

By Jessica Brodie

I’ve been doing my best these last several months to live into the middle, the “gray area,” that fuzzy, often-indefinable space where I don’t always know all the answers, but I have to trust God to work it all out.

I have four children and stepchildren, ages 11, 12, 13 and 14, and I write this just as we are about to head back to school. Normally, this is a fixed, definitive situation: we know the date, we know their schedule and we might even know what they’ll be wearing on that very first day, down to the color of their backpack and lunchbox. This year, everything is in flux thanks to the pandemic. Instead of starting Aug. 18, now I think we’ll be starting Aug. 31, though this too might change. Half my kids’ friends have chosen some sort of entirely virtual option developed by the school district, so we likely won’t even see those kids for months. The other half, including us, have tentatively selected this still-mysterious “hybrid schedule” where they’ll go two days a week, though we don’t yet know which days. Some of their friends will go Mondays and Tuesdays, and others will go Wednesdays and Thursdays. As for how long, who knows? Maybe four weeks, maybe until Christmas… as with so many things, it’s still up in the air.

School isn’t the only unknown right now. Churches opened, only for some to close again. Annual Conference was rescheduled; now it’s not. We understand why—not only is the Florence Center not allowed to accommodate large groups right now, but even if they were, it seems irresponsible from a public health standpoint to hold a massive gathering in a state still, as of press time, considered a COVID-19 “hot spot” with cases and deaths still very much on the rise. We respect that and think it’s the right decision.

All these unknowns can be frustrating and uncomfortable. In our frustration, we want to lash out at leaders, at public officials, at scientists, even at our friends and neighbors for the decisions they are making. Skimming social media the other night, a friend posted how she chose one option for her child’s schooling this fall—only to be lambasted by countless other “friends” for what they considered to be her “incorrect” (to them) decision.

Here’s the thing: What’s best for one family isn’t necessarily best for another. What’s best for one state isn’t necessarily best for another. Indeed, what’s best for one side of this state isn’t necessarily best for the other. There’s no “one right way,” no “one size fits all” approach to anything.

Whatever decisions families, elected officials and church leaders are making right now, let’s pray that they are making these decisions after prayer and led by God.

Then let’s respect their decisions, even if they’re not the ones we’d make ourselves.

People who choose one thing—whether a presidential candidate, a political party, a denomination, or whether or not to send their kids back to school in-person—are not “stupid,” bad or utterly wrong because their choices do not align with our opinion.

Let’s respect each other, understand that everyone has a unique perspective—and let peace prevail in the midst of this turmoil.

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