By Joshua Gilmore
I am the fabled, unbridled optimist. For some reason, the sun always seems to be shining where I live. The grass appears green on both sides of the yard. The sky is perpetually blue. And the clouds have a relentless silver lining. And yet, in full honesty, I’m feeling the loss.
It’s weird. I should feel fine. Right? I haven’t lost a loved one, my job, or my chance at an Olympic gold medal due to COVID-19. So why is the feeling still there?
I am feeling the loss of expression on everyone’s faces, now that the mask mandates have truly taken effect. I’m feeling the loss of nearness, now that even my close friends have been routinely socially distant. I’m feeling the loss of nonchalant shopping without being directed by the not-so-subtle signage that I really should take my fifteenth bump of hand sanitizer for the day.
I truly wish these examples were all I’ve experienced, but there are so many more losses than these. I’m feeling the loss of the 2020 graduation ceremonies for the recent graduates. I’m feeling the loss of once common courtesies, like hearing the words “God bless you” after a sneeze, instead of hearing an unsettling silence followed by the shuffling of feet heading toward the exit. I’m feeling the loss of traveling overseas. After all, we had to trade in our 15-year wedding anniversary trip for a stay-home order to shelter in place.
Some readers may think I’m just being a crybaby. And maybe I am. But even for those of us who have not experienced extreme loss in this season of challenge, I think everyone is feeling a low-grade form of unprocessed anxiety. I just want to help people identify the losses they are feeling and encourage them to process their losses in a healthy manner. People cannot make helpful modifications to their lives if they have not even honestly come to grips with the specific areas of loss brought on by this pandemic.
One meme I recently snickered at on social media read: “Please check on your extroverted friends. They are not ok!” After all, hugs for some may be optional, but hugs for another may be essential. The losses we feel are not all the same, but we all, in some way, are experiencing loss. Counting your blessings before counting your burdens is a wonderful joy-giving practice, but we may all, eternal optimists included, need to sit down and clear the air on what is really bothering us about COVID-19.
Joshua Gilmore serves as the director of Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina. Gilmore earned both his BA and MA at NGU (Christian Studies - 2005 & Christian Ministry - 2007). Gilmore continued his study at Columbia International University and earned his Educational Specialist degree (Ed.S) in Higher Christian Education in 2016. Prior to serving at NGU, Gilmore was a youth pastor in the Chicago area, professor/administrator at a small college of missions, and a music minister in New Jersey. Gilmore loves to be with his wife and three daughters, go on outdoor adventures, and passionately serve Christ through teaching, leading, and creating.
Published: September 11, 2020