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What do those three terms have to do with me?

Well, right now, I—like everyone else alive at this time—am living through a pandemic that affects almost all aspects of our collective experiences—and puts each of us in the position of having to decide to how to respond to the health threats brought about by COVID-19. Each day it becomes more apparent to me that how we “do COVID” is a personal decision.

Well, who am I? I am a person with a diagnosis of ADD who often has to struggle to manage matters that come more naturally for neurotypical people. Before I had a name for what was behind some of my difficulties, I was always looking for techniques to keep me on track. Consequently, in my MBA studies, I was drawn to what I learned in operations management courses.

Operations management is an area of business focused on how to get things done—in efficient and effective ways, with minimal loss of resources. Without systems, my brain leans toward chaotic approaches to everyday and long-term actions and decisions. What’s intuitive for many, needs a bit more structure for me to initiate and complete. As such, I am a big fan of having a plan—and that includes having a plan for some of the things that might go wrong.

How you “do” any aspect of life is pretty much an area for operations management. For example, my class project on changing diapers (for our twins) taught me this great insight—if you don’t have all the supplies ready before you start your task, you’re going to waste a lot of time. Well, duh—but my instinct first is to take action and second to think. I need systems for my actions to be effective. And when I find a system that works for me, I stick to it rigidly. Dishwasher loading, closet organization, calendar management, and medication/supplement organization are a few tasks where I’ve had some success.

Operations management is also part of the protections in place for a business to uphold employee safety, assure equipment integrity, and manage the money invested in a business. For a factory, that might involve employee training, scheduled maintenance, shutdown protocol, and upgrades. For humans, we invest in the health of our bodies. Without my systems, I might take my medications only when I remember, exercise when I feel like it, or forget to schedule appointments with my doctors. My mind is that chaotic—but I am not willing to live in chaos for the areas of my life where precision really matters.

And in this era, I also choose to believe what the majority of scientific and medical professionals are saying. I don’t leave my risks to my mind’s whims—which are many. My husband and I have created a mask station that makes it easy for us to find and take our masks when we leave. Our family takes seriously the recommendations on social distancing and wearing masks—and we don’t want to spend a lot of time around people who won’t follow those practices.

Can we protect ourselves from every droplet or aerosol? No, we cannot. But that doesn’t mean having a system is useless—it just means that having a system is one of the tools we have for reducing some of the risks in this season of unknowns.

I’m tired of many leaders and other adults abdicating responsibility for the health risks they present to others. Our country is in a bigger crisis than it needs to be at this moment in time. I want to get along with as many people as possible, but if getting along with you means that I have to agree to abandon what I consider to be necessary practices, then we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I may be naturally chaotic, but when it really matters, I set in place systems—and I adhere to them. I “do COVID” the way I do to protect myself and my loved ones—and to protect you.

Fear-shaming seems to be a thing these days. As if showing respect for a novel coronavirus and figuring out how to minimize its risks are somehow the actions of cowards (and/or the faithless) versus a fact-seeking mission to determine what we can and cannot control about this threat that has seemingly thrown our world off its axis.

For years, my family has called me Safety Mom, in part because I had writing jobs about safety and baby products. But I guess you could probably argue that I was able to get hired for those jobs because I’ve always been one to think about safety concerns. Do I live my life in fear? No. Yet I do live my life by researching safety risks and analyzing various protections and preparations. When it comes to safety, there are many factors not under our control—my approach is to put my efforts toward simple ways to reduce risks. In the end, that’s all anyone can do. After all, we’re not in charge!

For background, I admit that I come from a somewhat overprotected childhood.

First of all, my dad was raised an only child, but, really, he was the child who followed the death of his parents’ only other child. My grandparents were so afraid of losing him that he was raised as a fragile piece of china—even though he grew up on a Depression-era farm. His nickname in school became “Mittens”—because he wasn’t allowed to get dirty or roughhouse. He grew up to earn a professional degree and work as a pharmacist, only using his hands to count pills and type labels. My father seemed a stranger to his own body—living in a cerebral world where physical risks were minimized. For him, it was his lifestyle focused on comforts that threatened his physical health more than outside risks or movements.

And, for me—I was the baby who did not die when my body raged with infection at four months of age. But the experience left me underweight and scrambling to catch up. My dad’s mom would grab my hands and say things like, “She has hands like a bird. Do you think she will make it?” And whenever I fell down in her presence, she would gasp in fear for me—a reaction that never went away throughout all the normal bumps and bruises of my childhood. Not until I could get my tonsils out, a procedure delayed by my lack of weight gain, could I finally grow into a sturdy child—one who tried to pump hard enough to wrap the swing around the bar, who rode my bike up gravel country roads, climbed trees, screwed up her courage to plunge off the high board, and who, in my teens, jumped at a chance to learn to ski.

Compared to my husband (he of a very physical childhood with his two brothers and more than a few broken bones between them, and a current serious mountain-biking addiction) and my own kids, who I strove not to inject with the legacy of fear my family had attempted to swaddle me in, I am a delicate little flower.

However, I do not often cower in fear. I prepare myself by reading the latest studies (from a layman’s perspective), while watching for bias or updated information. My educational background is in reading and writing, and my current editing work falls in the area of science education—an area where I was NOT naturally drawn to at a young age. No doubt my growth into Safety Mom drove me toward trying to figure out how different factors affect health. In general, if my research tells me something I don’t want to hear, I have to decide how badly I want to avoid the risks.

Unfortunately, what I read at this point in our early days of understanding the current viral threat is that how I respond to safety precautions matters to the health of many beyond my own circle. I don’t really spend a lot of time worrying about myself—or even about those whom I love. Instead, I spend time making certain that—as much as possible—I follow the current recommended safety precautions.

What looks like fear to many is actually love. I am doing unto others what I want them to do for me (see Matthew 7:12). I do this because of what Jesus said—not because I don’t have faith. What if keeping our lamps trimmed and burning (see Matthew 25:1-13) is actually about being prepared to care for others in this interim of waiting for better solutions to this illness? Could the inconvenience of loving our neighbors by maintaining distances and wearing facial coverings actually demonstrate that we are willing to accept God’s timing and ways—in all things, including how and when the bridegroom will arrive?

Fear not, but prepare wisely. Because we do not know the hour or time, one way to keep watch is by showing your love.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert
Father/Daughter Father’s Day bike ride 2020.

Today on Father’s Day, I am used to being without my father. Still, how is it 19 years have passed since I spent a Father’s Day with my dad? Facebook is full of tributes to men like my father who are no longer around—some long gone and some whose recent losses leave sharp, new aches. But I am glad that so many of the people I know still have dads who are alive, including my husband and his brothers. I am grateful that Duane is still here and living in his own home—and I love seeing pictures of living fathers I knew in my youth and living fathers who I don’t know but who matter to people I know.

And, most importantly to me, I rejoice that my kids’ father, Sherman, is out celebrating at this time by riding his bike with our daughter. That he is doing so was not a given, because, despite his age and fitness level, he had a heart attack 2 ½ years ago. Thankfully, due to the addition of a stent as well as medication and diet changes, Sherman continues to ride on this earth, exercising as he always did—but with his heart pumping more effectively.

This man of my heart rides his bike—mostly by climbing up steep hills on his mountain bike—from three to five times a week. He is dedicated to staying strong. And, because he cares that others continue to have the opportunity to move as they are able, he wears a face covering.

I’m going to guess that many people these days are worried about their dads, grandpas, husbands, and other loved ones. But it appears that some other people don’t seem to worry about dads, grandpas, husbands, and loved ones who fall outside their circles.

To the man who took time to mock my husband and me for wearing masks as we walked our dogs outside, what about protecting my 91-year-old father-in-law, let alone my husband who still has heart disease—despite his activity level—or my 20-something son, who has asthma? You might call wearing a face covering the act of a sheep, but we call it wearing our hearts on our faces.

Because, seriously, how can people go around saying that all lives matter when they find so much offense in the suggestion of wearing a mask to protect others? If you really believe all lives matter, then show it by following general guidelines to protect all in these days of COVID-19. Understand that we all have special people who matter to us—and that what we’re saying by wearing face masks isn’t that we’re weak (although some of us might be, and wouldn’t protecting us still be worthy of showing that all lives matter?), but that we know that everyone has people in their lives that matter to them and people who they want to help stay well.

On this Father’s Day, let’s honor the wellness of all our special men—whether they are elderly, have medical conditions, or appear to be fit enough to battle whatever may come their way.

I don’t get to have a father to worry over anymore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t worry for the men I know in my life—or the men I don’t know—who matter to others. And, yes, that means men who society has traditionally treated as if they don’t matter. And—sigh—it also means the kind of men who would refuse to attempt to protect others or who, even worse, go out of their way to physically harm or mock those who look, think, or act differently than they do.

I have to admit, though, that I’m having a harder time these days attempting to care about people who aren’t afraid to shout that they won’t try to care for all. All means all. Since I can only truly work on my heart, it’s to my own heart where I have to return. So, I’ll repeat it for myself—and anyone else who needs to hear it.

Love one another. Our Father in Heaven gave His Son that message to give to us. Are we listening?

Love all the fathers. And everyone else. Keep wearing your hearts on your faces.

P.S. Miss you, Dad! Glad you are already safe.

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