The purpose of the “Back to Center” advice column is to provide perspectives for personal realignment and empowered living in the COVID era. Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice about self-development and emotional and mental well-being in these complicated times. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to hearing from you!
For all other inquiries, please direct your questions to email@example.com.
My family has suffered the loss of my father, brother, and mother recently. I stopped working as a financial analyst eight years ago to wholeheartedly help my mom with her dying brain…not knowing I would get to care for my dad and then my brother a year later. Both were diagnosed with cancer. Dad’s lung cancer was presumed from Agent Orange. David got Glioblastoma Multiforme (brain cancer).
Now two months after my mom’s passing, my nephew is getting married in France!! We are a tight family and I adore him.
The problem: I have had time to do a lot of reading on the GENE MODIFICATION vaccine and won’t take it. From the beginning I felt overriding God's work was wrong. So, after working through losses together, it is a glorious wedding that is bringing on the pain. My sister can’t understand how I can be so lost in conspiracy and choice nonsense over family who are vaccinated and fine. Unforgivable, I fear. I had to say, “I’m sorry you feel that way” and hung up.
I have picked a side and am paying a price. I’m mourning this loss and feel horribly torn. The wedding is in July. Thoughts?
I am so sorry for all the heartbreaking loss you’ve experienced in recent years. That is tremendously painful. It sounds like you were there for your mother, father, and brother in a deeply profound way as they went through their illnesses.
And now, after all that, your joy over your nephew’s upcoming wedding is being marred by family conflict over the vaccine. I can hear how hard this is for you.
It’s not completely clear to me from your question if the “loss” you are mourning is that your sister has said you can’t attend the wedding without being vaccinated, or if it’s the loss of connection you feel with her and her family over this conflict. Either way, here are a couple of perspectives that I hope will be helpful (and just a note – I fully recognize that your sister also has a part in this conflict and also has responsibilities in the relationship. But I’m just going to focus on you here, and what you might be able to do for your part, since that’s the only part you can control) …
You’ve drawn a line in the sand for yourself about the vaccine. You’re not getting it. That seems to be non-negotiable for you.
You’re also deeply longing to attend your nephew’s wedding and be together with your family there.
A question I’d like you to ask yourself is: What could possibly be negotiable for you in this situation? Are there ways you could stand firm in your own convictions and be flexible in another area for the sake of family unity and togetherness at this wedding?
For example, what would it be like for you to call your sister again and express your heart to her? To tell her how much she and her family mean to you, how special it would be to be together at your nephew’s wedding, especially after all the pain your family has gone through?
You said yourself what a tight family you are, and how you worked through the losses together. Is it possible the two of you could put your differing opinions aside – even just temporarily – and decide it’s time for some family joy after all the pain?
It might take some swallowing of pride. It might take an apology if you said anything you regret. Are those prices that could be worth paying for the healing that could take place in the relationship?
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you make any kind of apologies for your stance on COVID and the vaccine. What I am suggesting is that you consider leaving the topic out of the conversation as much as possible and focusing instead on expressing love and a desire for unity. In my opinion, we need to do everything in our power to keep the current messy state of the world from coming between us and the ones we love. I believe this mess is temporary, but family is forever, for the rest of our lives. We need each other now more than ever, and nothing has to separate us unless we let it.
I truly hope this is helpful to you, and that you will soon be celebrating at that beautiful wedding together!
In my religious community, there has been a ton of conflict around all things COVID. We have some members who are staunch believers in masks and the vaccine and feel no one should be admitted into our church without them. Then there are others who hold the complete opposite opinion – they refuse to wear masks or take the vaccine and feel discriminated against by the others. Our congregation is overflowing with anger and hurt feelings these days, and people who once treated each other with so much love and kindness are now at odds. It’s so painful for me to see; this community means so much to me. Do you have any words of advice for us about how we can heal from this?
It's so sad and difficult when the people and places we used to count on as being safe, loving, and nurturing take a turn into dark times. I’m truly sorry for the conflict your congregation is experiencing, and hope that what follows will help with the healing of your beloved community.
The thought that leaps out at me as I read your words is about you in particular. You see what’s going on within your church. You cared enough to write this question to me, to go looking for a solution to help these people you love. Maybe this is an opportunity for you to step forward as a leader in your congregation, to help everyone move toward healing. Have you ever thought of yourself as a leader?
The qualities of true leadership are empathy and service. I wonder what it could look like if you were to couple your strong empathy for this special group of people with service – action – to help bring people back together again. Pain and conflict can be amazing catalysts for growth and change if we let them move us forward into positive action.
And you don’t have to do it alone. Maybe there are other people in your church who feel the way you do – who are feeling the pain and wanting to help make a change. How could you possibly identify those people and work together to move in a positive direction? I’ll offer a few suggestions here, and you can see if any of them feel right to you.
Perhaps you could form some small discussion groups consisting of people with different viewpoints that would meet regularly (in-person or virtually). Participants could be asked to agree that these would be places where people could share their feelings and opinions freely and safely, without fear of judgment or attack. Maybe if congregants are given the chance to express themselves in these smaller settings, the understanding and respect that would hopefully develop could start to spread throughout the church as a whole.
Another possibility is to find ways to creatively remind people of “how it used to be” – of the good times your congregation has had together in the pre-COVID past. It could involve putting together a slideshow of photos from church events, asking people to submit a paragraph on their favorite church memories to be compiled in a book, creating a virtual talent show or other event that would help people have fun together again…Giving your church members chances to remember times of love and connection, and to create fun new memories, could go a long way toward softening hearts.
If you and others who feel as you do declare, “It’s time to heal,” and take the initiative to work toward it, I think amazing things could happen. All the best to all of you!
- ‘Struggling with my relationship with God since COVID’
- 'I have lost confidence in our healthcare system, including my own personal doctors'
- 'Can you forgive yourself for the years you couldn’t be there with your daughter?'
- 'My wife is willing to take the sacrifice for her sister and I'm sick to my stomach thinking about it'
- 'I deeply regret taking the vaccine'
- 'Married 39 years and I thought we were on the same page when it came to things that mattered most'
- ‘How do I repair this relationship or accept that I may never see my son again?’
- ‘How can I stop fear from controlling my every thought and ruining my dreams?’
- 'How can I pursue my dream to find the person to marry, when it's so hard to connect with new people because of COVID?'
- 'How can I feel safe these days?'
- Advice column premier: Back to Center
Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice! Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Perron is a Certified Transformational Life Coach. Her passion is to help people create a powerful vision for their lives, identify and eliminate anything that holds them back, and step into their own unique greatness and mission in the world. She believes deeply in the power of coaching to bring fresh perspectives, ideas, and motivation to anyone who wants to thrive in life. Sarah works with clients one-on-one and in group coaching programs and presents exciting workshops on self-development topics. You can follow her on her YouTube channel Find Your Fire.
You are invited to book a complimentary coaching call with Sarah! Please visit https://calendly.com/sarahperroncoaching/45min to choose a time that's convenient for you. She looks forward to meeting you!