I wrote this post months ago, before anyone was worried about a little bug on the other side of the world. I didn't share it then, because I chickened out. I didn't want to offend anyone.
Today I decided we could all use some truthful offending.
This morning I sat through a church service surrounded by a chorus of coughing, hacking and sneezing. It was baby dedication day, which meant the family with the two week old baby walked down the aisle of germs, like a modern day "running of the gauntlet."
Why is this?
Why do we, the church, believe that it's more acceptable to play the martyr and come to church even when we're sick than to stay home? Even if that means coughing on the newborn and sending her to the hospital, or sneezing on the immune compromised child and putting her in a 6 month hell, or shaking hands with the adult with a rare illness that will launch her into chronic pain for weeks after she catches your "cough"?
Why do we put more moral weight on the verse about "not forsaking the assembly" than the one that says to "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
Is going to church when we're sick really looking out for others? Or is it our own selfishness and pride? "Look at me, I really should be in bed, but I'm such a good martyr, I won't miss services, even if I'm on my last hacking breath!"
It took everything in me to sit through church today and not snatch my child up and run for the door.
So, here it is. The post I wrote back when all we were worried about was the flu. Feel free to substitute your virus of choice. To those of us who've seen the devastation a simple case of strep can cause, it's all the same.
My girls recently got over the flu. Not just the flu, but the flu that morphed into post-flu croup. Honestly, the croup was even scarier than the flu. Barking coughs and gasping breaths, up half the night emptying the puke bowl when she coughed so much she threw up, again.
I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, until I got a text from a friend with a daughter in another autoimmune flare.
And she felt sorry for me.
I told her, truthfully, "This is NOTHING compared to PANDAS disease."
Social media, for all it's pitfalls, is also a great place for parents of "rare" diseases to congregate and share (in a germ free environment, no less.) It can also be incredibly disheartening....reading through the stories of the children and families devastated by illness...and seeing the groups that were only a few parents a few years ago, now swelling to the thousands with new, desperate parents joining every day.
For some, these online groups are a lifeline. They haven't left the house in over a year..sometimes more. Their child is so incredibly sick, they are prisoners in their own home. Not a trip to the grocery store. Not a trip to the doctor. Sports? Their little superstar had to quit those long ago. Church? Forget about it. They home school, not because they love it, but because they have no other option.
Why? Because their child got strep...or the flu...or mycoplasma...or xyz virus...and it created a monster illness that turned their world upside down.
So when we make it through a week of the flu and croup with puking and high fevers and no autoimmune flares, it's a pretty big blessing in our world. I was starting to feel safe and normal again, the way parents feel when "it's just the flu...it's just strep...it's just a common xyz childhood illness."
But then I heard about a 2 year old girl who didn't make it through the same flu. It took her little life, and there wasn't a thing the doctors could do to save her.
And the anti-pharma group will say, "Well, they probably gave her Tamiflu."
And the pro-vx group will say, "Well, she should have gotten the flu shot."
And the anti-vx group will say, "Well, she probably go the flu shot."
And the natural mommas will say, "Well, she probably ate processed junk food and her mom didn't make her a good nourishing bone broth and she didn't use the right essential oils."
And I used to fall into those groups. Too many of those groups. I thought it would never happen to my child, because I did it all right. And if you do it all "right", then your family will be saved from the anguish of a devastating illness gone wrong...because you picked the right camp and staked the right claim.
But now I say....BULL. All of it.
Guess why that little girl died of the flu?
Guess why my little girl got strep throat that caused PANDAS?
Because someone gave it to her.
Because "Johnny can't miss basketball practice or he wouldn't start in the next big game...and it's just a little cough...and he's mostly over it."
Because "We got front row tickets to this concert, and we're sure not missing it because you have a little sore throat!"
Because, "She's probably feverish from teething. Just drop her off in the nursery so we can listen to the sermon in peace."
Because, "We can't stay home every time someone in the family has a cough, we'd be home for weeks!!! We can't just stop our lives every time someone gets sick!!"
Because, "It's just allergies."
Tell that to the mom of the two year old who isn't in her toddler bed tonight.
Tell that to the mom of the child with a chronic illness who had to quit her job and hasn't left her house in two years, with no end in sight.
Tell that to the mom with the newborn gasping for breath as they race to the ER.
Look me in the eye, and tell me again why that baby girl died of the flu?
Blame it on all the things. Pick your camp. Stake your battle lines. Tamiflu. Flu Shot. No Flu Shot. Junk Food. Bone Broth.
It's easier than facing the truth.
We live in a world where it's more honorable to take your kids to church and school and basketball practice with a fever than it is to keep them home, even if it would save another child's life.
Maybe you're right. You didn't give that little girl the flu. You didn't give my baby strep. You didn't go to work with the latest bug for weeks before admitting maybe this isn't just "a cough."
You gave it to the person who gave it to the person who gave it to the person who gave it to her.
Maybe they were on to something, back in the day of "Quarantine" signs nailed to the door.
I should probably run for something. Enforced "Quarantine" signs and a ban on Humanure.
Edited to add...they now know the C. virus is spread through human feces. The same human feces farmers are spreading on their land that grows our food. A practice that is common in China. And America. But, I'll save that for another rant. I think I've ticked off enough people for one day.
Let's be the change, church.
Lead by example.
Let's start truly considering the needs of others over our own.
And one more thing. Perhaps if we would all be pro-active and self-quarantine ourselves at home when we're obviously not well, our government wouldn't feel the need to step in and do it for us.
(Phillipians 2:3-4 and Hebrews 10:25)