As I scrolled Facebook recently, I saw story after story how families are making use of their time at home together during this unprecedented pandemic and season of necessary self-isolation. I saw people getting creative with cooking, playing games with their kids, and getting projects done around the house. I am always amazed by others’ capacity to adapt and turn the negative into a positive.
I wish that was me, if I’m being honest. Sure, I have ideas. I have dreams about how I could be using this time for the better – to get in better shape, to finish projects around the house, or take up a new hobby. But I haven’t done any of these things – at least not yet.
Unfortunately, I am a worrier by default. I shouldn’t be. But anxiety has been a loathsome companion for as long as I can remember – and this companion of mine is having a field day now that we are actually living in an unprecedented season of global pandemic. I worry for my family members because their “essential” jobs will keep putting them at harm’s risk. I worry for other family members who are more at risk because of their age. I worry, more than anything, about how long this whole season is going to last.
So rather than use this season for the better, I have spent the last few weeks allowing my companion (anxiety) to set the agenda,
I have tried to cope as best as I can. I’ve spent time turning to the humorous side of things by laughing at the endless supply of toilet paper and coronavirus memes on the internet. I’ve spent time playing games online with friends who are also attempting to cope with the scary world outside their front doors. I’ve caught up on some TV shows. If I can distract myself from reality, it seems to help a bit, even if not for long.
I have good days where I remind myself that this season will pass. I have bad days when the overwhelming nature of it all just gets to me and I can barely function.
So why share this?
First, I share it to be honest. It is not enough to put on a brave face and act like everything is okay. Attempting to appear strong when you are not is a facade that does no one any good.
But even more so, “pretending” to be something you are not does not allow for the growth needed to actually BECOME what you need to be.
In this case, I need to learn how to be strong, not pretend to be.
Second, I share this because I know that I am not alone. Anxiety loves to keep us alone, as if this is a feeling that only I alone can bear or understand. That is anxiety’s biggest lie – that no one else can understand what you’re going through. It is anxiety’s trick to keep us alone and isolated. It is a lie that must be exposed and beaten to a pulp.
Finally, I share this because this season and all the anxiety it brings have revealed to me that I have forgotten the most important thing of all:
If there’s one thing any season like this one is good at, it shows us how dangerous it is to put our faith in anything less than things that are not eternal. We put so much faith in that day-to-day feeling that we are doing just fine so long as the life and culture that we have built for ourselves does not change. And painfully, this season has proven just how much things can and do change. This is always true, pandemic or not.
It is all too easy to lament what has changed. It is too easy to worry about what might *still* change. It is too easy to cave in to anxiety and fill your head with endless possibilities of what the next few weeks and months may bring.
It is too easy to fall into the temptation to think that all it takes for spiritual and emotional well-being is for things to go back to the way they were.
So maybe nurturing this realization/revelation is the best place to start. Maybe I haven’t gotten to exercise (yet), fix some boards on my back deck (yet), or play some cool card/board games with my kids (yet). But maybe I have the opportunity to allow this season to show me where my faith in God is lacking. Now I have the chance to re-learn what it means to lean on Him, so that I might lessen the worry and anxiety that have so long plagued my life.
So as I live out another day in these unprecedented times, I am finding all-new comfort in these words:
When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.
– Psalm 94:18-19
Because I know my foot will continue to “slip” from time to time, it is my prayer that in those moments I can remember God’s love for me and dare to find joy in that love – even in a season as uncertain as this.