Grappling With Blame, Guilt & Grace — Fearfully & Wonderfully Jo

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COVID-19 has a funny way of really turning your week upside down. 🙁 Like wayyyy upside down.

Last week, I finally succumbed to the virus. 2 whole years I managed to avoid catching it and finally, it caught me. My throat had felt funky and I had actually been sniffling for a day before I tested, but I brushed it off as my usual April allergies. In the end, I decided to test because my parents were strongly encouraging me to, and a co-worker told me that a lot of her friends had COVID symptoms that mimicked their usual seasonal ailments.

When I found out, I immediately told everyone I’d been in contact with over the past few days, including a real estate agent who had come to my apt that morning to take photos as the current owner was looking to sell the place. When she had come, I hadn’t decided to test yet and was still brushing off my symptoms as allergies. So when I told her, she was FURIOUS and wasn’t shy about expressing it to me.

As she’s on the older side, I definitely understood why she was so angry, so I just listened as she continuously called me “inconsiderate” and “unkind,” among other things. I didn’t want to make excuses that would invalidate how she felt so I sat there, absorbing all the words that were hurled at me, until I wanted nothing more than to blast off from planet earth. And in that instant, my biggest regret was not taking the test earlier.

She hung up before I could even say goodbye, and interestingly, it was that detail that cemented the feelings of guilt that had taken root as soon as I picked up the phone.

I began internalizing all the hurtful things she had said and truly believed the accusations she had made – in my head, I was beating myself up for not being more perceptive to my symptoms and was truly adopting the labels the agent had given me.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of blame, but it freaking sux. I felt so small, so stunned, and so helpless – I wanted to do something, anything to fix the situation, but found myself at a loss for what to do or say in that moment. The fact of the matter is there was partial truth to her blame-filled words, and I grasped ahold of that and couldn’t let go.

I had texted the owner of the apt just to make her aware of what had transpired between me and the agent, and was quite nervous to see her response. We had gotten pretty close over the past few months, and I was afraid she would think less of me. But my fears were for naught because the response she sent back was paragraphs of grace, care, and concern. She was more concerned about my health than anything else, and I was overwhelmed to the point of tears.

It’s funny timing how this weekend was also Easter weekend. I typically wouldn’t think twice about the reminders that become frequent around this time about how we’re forgiven because God sent Jesus to die for our sins etc. etc. But this incident made that especially real for me this year. Even though it’ll probably be a while before I can fully forgive myself, I do find comfort + reassurance in knowing that God is gracious, and His forgiveness is more than sufficient.

To me, my landlady’s response was God’s grace made even more real to me. But it wasn’t just her. Throughout the day, I experienced grace and love from friends who messaged me asking after me. So many people had been exposed to COVID by my presence, yet no one else blamed me.

THAT is a picture of God’s grace, my friends – undeserved, tenderhearted, generous, and true. May we all lean into that grace and let it inspire the way we approach our relationship with others.

xx, jo

p.s. If you ever get COVID (Lord willing you won’t), take it from me, and don’t place blame on whoever you got it from. We all want to blame someone, trust me, I wanted to too. But it truly isn’t fair when it comes to something like a highly contagious virus that no one has control over, and blame hurts like heck.

Words and thoughts courtesy of Jolene Chao,

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