‘Browsing the Target aisles with my mask on, a stranger approached to point at my ‘Faith Over Fear’ shirt and chuckle. ‘Doesn’t look like you’re living what you preach.’: Cancer warrior shares plea for common decency

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Strange Encounter

“Faith over Fear? Fear over Faith? Or, a little bit of both?

I ran into Target and was browsing the aisles when I was approached by an individual who said, ‘Doesn’t look like you are living what you are preaching’ and then he sorta chuckled. I was absolutely perplexed.

As in, I had absolutely no idea what this individual was talking about.

I was racking my mind to try to remember if I knew this person and my heart started racing because I was so confused and thought perhaps I knew this person and was totally dropping the ball.

Turns out none of that was the case.

I pulled it together, smiled, and said, ‘Hi! I am so sorry but I don’t know what you are talking about.’ He then pointed to my shirt.

It all made sense.

I was wearing a shirt that said ‘Faith/Fear’. I was also wearing a mask.

My heart sank.

At that moment I said, ‘I am sorry, I am on oral chemo and get injections monthly due to cancer and my husband was just recently diagnosed with a rare disease similar to cancer and just had surgery. As in, two days ago. And we have two kiddos who need us.’

He looked at me. His eyes changed and he simply said ‘sorry’ and walked away.

Now, I feel fairly confident that if I wasn’t wearing a mask this wouldn’t have happened.

But it did. So here I am.

And it saddens me.

Staying Safe

There is a serious war going on. In more ways than one. But I have never been more sure that the biggest one we are facing is one within our minds and hearts. Within each of us.

We have become a country so set on having to be right. It feels like you can either be from the Left or the Right. Or, you either believe in the virus or not. And it’s heartbreaking.

When I can’t even mind my own business Stand stroll Target of all places (I mean let a lady have her Christmas morning moment!) with peace and quite without being approached over something I am wearing, then it is a sad day.

I say this because I see it everywhere. From complete strangers to people I once knew to people I do know. And I don’t understand it.

What happened to the days of respect? What happened to the days of agreeing to disagree. What happened to common decency?

I believe in this virus. But I also believe it has been used as a pawn in more ways than not for political gain. That is my opinion. And yes, you can believe in them both at the same time.

I have been told so many times to have more faith and to not let this virus dictate my life and opinions and yet at the same time told by the same people who more times than not do not believe in this virus to be careful and stay home. Lord. The irony.

I still live my life. But I live it in caution. Just like I did before Covid was a ‘thing’ when the flu or stomach bug rolled around to now. Because the reality is that my family doesn’t have the luxury that so many others do. Because my family was handed a different card.

Wearing a mask doesn’t mean I am living in fear. To me, it means common sense. For my family and I.

So – I will wear a mask when I don’t feel comfortable. And I will lean into my faith and pray for those who judge me and others like me for the personal decision I made that does benefit my family. Just like I did today.

Because these faces are so worth being around for and a little inconvenience on my part can make that possible. After all, I have fought for years to remain on this side of Heaven with my children and husband and I plan to keep on doing just that till my time here on earth is up. Till I am called home.

Until than, I pray for minds to be opened and for hearts to be softened. For none of us truly know what someone is facing behind their mask or their smile.”

Family posing
Courtesy of Heather Milburn

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Heather Milburn. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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