The Word of the Month: Angstymasks

May 30, 2020

Mercy! I had a difficult time coming up with a word for this merry month of May. I’m not sure what I’m going to say about angstymasks, but it had better come to me quickly, because here I am writing, finally, once again at the last minute. Unless you count tomorrow, which would be the last second. (Yes, I just included a fragment in this potentially otherwise grammatically correct Doodle, but it’s used for emphasis, so it’s okay!)

Through this whole pandemic experience, most of us have dealt with some angst. Defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general,” and in the Urban Dictionary as “a transcendent emotion in that it combines the unbearable anguish of life with the hopes of overcoming this seemingly impossible situation.” That sounds about right. We’ve lived through three months of angst-filled moments as we’ve been sheltering at home, cleaning like maniacs, worshiping with online and drive-in services, learning to teach, learn and work at home, canceling or postponing major life celebrations, and wearing masks when we need to venture out.

Thankfully those of you reading this can say you’ve lived through the last three months. Millions around the world are no longer with us. I read an article about the polio epidemic in the ’50s, a time I missed by just a few years. That invisible virus spread through the United States and over the world in waves, attacking mostly children. Those it didn’t kill, were often left with paralysis of one kind or another, many needing to live in an iron lung the rest of their lives. If you haven’t seen the photos of those poor children, look it up online. Polio often paralyzed the diaphragm, leaving the person unable to draw a breath. This article focused on one man who is still alive today, now in his 70s. He taught himself to breathe by swallowing air so he could be out of the iron lung and in a wheel chair for part of the day. He became a lawyer! Now he is too weak to breathe on his own at all, so he’s back in the iron lung full time. I can’t even imagine a life like that, but it could have been my sister’s or brother’s story, even mine, as the vaccine was not readily available until the early 60s. What a sobering and praise-inducing thought during our current situation!

And now on top of the coronavirus, we have rioting in the streets of cities all over the country! And just like in the riotous sixties, racial harassment and bigotry are the impetus for these horrible incidents. Why do we as a nation of freedom continue to wear the angsty masks of skin color? Why can’t we all look each other in the beautiful shades of faces God gave us and see that we’re all brothers and sisters in this human world? If we could do that we wouldn’t need masks to cover our fears and keep us separated from each other. We could see each other as God created us, knowing that He loves each of us the same, and skin color, culture, language, even religion doesn’t change that. “For this is how much God loved the world–he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life. God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!” (John 3:16-17 The Passion)

As those who follow Jesus, we need to remember that He loves EVERYONE, and that means those who don’t know Him, those who look different from us, even those who worship other gods or don’t believe in any god. In Romans 5:8 the apostle Paul says, “But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly!” (The Passion) If Christ died for all of us while we were ungodly, then that means we need to show that same kind of love to everyone we meet, praying as we go that those people in our path will come to know Him. I guess that means we need to pray for all the people out there rioting in the name of racial equality. It’s not the best way to express their angst and frustration, but maybe that’s all they know to do right now. We need to pray for Jesus’ love to shine out through all this mess, so that people can take off their masks and see each other as God sees them–beloved and beautiful creations who need Him and each other. We need another Martin Luther King, Jr. to preach and demonstrate God’s love on the streets, but since that person hasn’t come to the forefront yet, we’d better be doing what we can where we are.

And just to leave you with a laugh, here’s the masked duo: Mrs. Kuss and her Amish lookalike man!