The face-off in Ottawa (known as the ‘Freedom Convoy’) may be coming to a close, but the narrative is far from concluded. It may have started with a group of truckers on January 22, but it has quickly turned into a platform for frustrated citizens, a nightmare for residents, and continued stress for overwhelmed leaders. Let’s face it, COVID hasn’t been easy. Far from it. There’s pent up frustration everywhere you turn. Unemployment, worry, economic loss, sickness, rules, restrictions, and of course trying to get your head around what the future will look like.

But do you know what’s most concerning about the narrative right now across our country? It’s polarizing our nation. People are taking sides. Someone is right, and someone is wrong. When it comes to navigating something like the response to a pandemic — it’s just not that simple. These debates don’t bring unity and solutions, they encourage disunity and more problems. At the end of the day, people just sling mud until someone gives up, or does something extreme.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying. There’s always time for discussion. But there’s a BIG difference between discussion and trying to prove you’re right and someone else is wrong. Discussion is about conversation, not confrontation. It appears things are just escalating. The frustrations of many are rising to the surface in a very public way, and I’m not sure anyone is really ready for it.

I’m just going to call the whole thing very SAD.

No sarcasm, not a snarky remark. Just sad.

It’s sad COVID has impacted our way of life.

It’s sad the concept of a vaxpass even exists.

It’s sad truck drivers felt they had no choice.

It’s sad businesses and neighbourhoods were shut down and full of fear.

It’s sad our government felt they had no choice.

It’s sad police from all over the country got involved.

It’s sad people got hurt.

It’s sad hundreds were arrested.

It’s even more sad, that the conversation is so polarizing, people will uncontrollably comment on this post (and others) to defend their point of view.

That’s just it. That’s the saddest part. It’s polarizing our nation with force. Ironically, it’s our freedom of speech that is fuelling one of the biggest attacks on our freedom.

Perhaps we should rethink our pursuit. In my mind, the best way to pursue freedom, is for both ’sides’ to step back, breathe, and realize COVID (something no one asked for) has driven us to fight each other.

In 2022, fighting for our point of view is not freedom, it’s being shackled by our own frustrations.

When the Country, that’s well known for its polite freedom, is more polarized than ever, we’re beyond fighting for our own point of view. We need to think differently. Otherwise, our actions towards each other will just continue to escalate and become more divisive! We can’t afford that. Our kids can’t afford that. Our economy can’t afford that. Truth be told, I don’t think anyone really wants it either.

Step back, realize how SAD this all is, and PRAY we make it out somehow stronger, and not weaker. If we all stop to realize that none of us have the absolute answer regarding the COVID impact and our new realities, and we all start supporting each other, instead of polarizing each other, we will get through this unwelcome season!

Freedom isn’t always about getting what we want; rather, it’s about being able to live next to people who don’t always have the same view as we do. As a result, pursuing freedom should be more about listening and understanding, than it is about chanting and dictating. And that applies to us all!

As someone of faith, I also try to extend grace to everyone trying to navigate this conundrum. None of us are perfect.

Here’s my prayer for the nation:

“Heavenly Father,

What’s happening? It’s almost like we don’t know how to talk to each other anymore. As soon as someone has an different opinion, we put on our fighting gloves instead of hearing and learning a new perspective. COVID hasn’t helped, and so I pray the uncertainty clears away soon, but I also realize COVID hasn’t caused it all. It’s just made it worse.

Thank you for bringing us this far and giving us a vaccine, doctors, professionals, leaders, and each other, to get us through this blessed and unwelcome season. I pray that we can see a taste of hope and light around the corner.

Help us focus on you daily, instead of this chaos. Not everyone understands that, but I pray that those who do, will put down their verbal swords, and allow Your Word to do the piercing on our own hearts instead. Break our hearts for what breaks Yours. Give us empathy.

Lead us forward towards peace, consideration, and freedom in You — knowing that we’re all frustrated. Give leaders wisdom, and citizens peace. Strengthen elected officials with grace and humility, and give comfort to citizens who feel overwhelmed and helpless.

We give this situation to you, and pray you’ll turn it into something beautiful — even when we can’t see how that’s possible. 

We trust in you, and believe You want us to live in a brighter and stronger tomorrow.

In Jesus name, Amen.