There is a version of me that I do not want to be. Several, to be honest.
The me I like least is anxious me.
I obsess. I over-analyze. I over-empathize. I am overly-afraid. I over-share. Over-burden others. I get overly frustrated. And on the list goes...
I do not like this me. This me gets overly fired up about things I can’t control but then second guesses all my overly opinionated, opinions later in the day. The fire comes from a desire to fix something. Get it back to normal. The doubt is the realization that nothing I say or do can actually accomplish that and even worse my efforts are likely slowly (or quickly in many cases) repelling people that love me.
Prior to 2020 I spent years and many tears fighting to gain mental health. I have a long list of tips and tricks along with my grounding faith that I rely on to keep me above the tidal wave of anxiety and the consequent depression that follows.
Counseling. Gym. Diet. Mindfulness. Limit Media. Balance stress. Vitamins. Avoid Caffeine. Be outside. Stay close. Church. Thankfulness. And on my “keep it together” list goes.
Here I am now, the landscape has been turned upside down and anxiety wants to tell me I need him again. He tells me that if I don’t worry enough about the right things I’m not doing my job as the protector and keeper of the ones I love.
Covid sends the message to me everyday through a wide range of conversations I have in a day, my news feed, all the new social anxiety/ever changing rules, the lack of normal interaction in society, my inability to safely attend church, and more that I need to be afraid…more than ever before… and I need to feel bad if I don’t get this right...
As if there is a perfect way to live through a Pandemic.
Being afraid of COVID is likely a reality for everyone I think to some degree but to be frank I am not particularly fearful of COVID personally… I am scared of people I love getting it… and of course there is the small chance I could be one who gets it and dies… but what gives this fear more power is in my life…and I assume for others that battle the beast of anxiety…. is that being reminded of one reason to be afraid over and over at every turn only reminds you of all your other fears I’ve worked so hard to overcome.
And the conundrum for a person with anxiety is that there is no way to return to a normal life in this season. Not to say that everything about now is bad. It has been a season filled with beauty and a great many things to be thankful for… but there is no obvious “escape hatch” for this anxiety trigger.
Maybe we wait for a vaccine. Maybe we wait till elections are over. Maybe till the next peak. We try being home. We try only seeing people outside. We try masks…..
Whatever we try doesn’t work because we are fighting a uncontrollable force. Yes, actions matter but I also think humanities hubris has brought us to believe that we have abilities that we in fact lack.
We cannot control sickness or death. Period.
We do our best to protect ourselves. We research. We fight.
But every person’s story ends with death. So COVID reminds us everyday that this could be the day that we die. The questions the follows next is: Are we ready?
Normal life drowns out that question… until something bad happens… and then you have to face it. But in this climate we are all being reminded of death, sickness, and other risks at every turn. We can’t drown out the question of death and what follows so easily anymore.
I’ve asked myself about death a lot recently. I did this when I became a Mom too… something about seeing new life come into the world somehow reminded me that it also ends.. I thought I had it worked out…but fear is sneaky and persistent.
I want to say my faith prepares me for every outcome….that God with me is enough to help me face life and death.… I do believe! But as a person trapped in flesh, unable to see Heaven, I am afraid of what it’s going to take to get there and more afraid of losing people to death and being left behind. Death is final. It’s so sad. And it never comes at the right time.
How do I live then? In a world that wants to remind me everyday that I could die. My kids could die. That I need to be afraid. Beyond that it tells me chaos is winning. Justice is nowhere to be found. Anger is everywhere. Things we all relied on to make our lives work have been stripped away.
The danger is to get crushed under the hopelessness that our world is yelling out at every turn. Never a moment for celebration. For unity. For joy.
I do not want to put my head in the sand… I desire to be wise with my life… my kids… my friends… but how can anyone find wisdom in this world of chaos?
It is not there. I’ve been searching in all the wrong places. While I want to pray prayers that take in account the hurts of the world. I want to live a life mindful of my fellow man but the world will not teach me that way. It instead will crush me under a pile of despair filled headlines. Alone.
Where does my hope come from? As the Psalms taught me when I was young, it comes from the Lord. This is really and truly the only way to have hope in a world that shouts out reasons to despair and burdens us with things we cannot control at every turn.
This hope I cling to as I seek out peace to drown out the message telling me I must live my days crippled by fear.
I so do not want to be that anxious me. I want to be a redeemed. Transformed. Brave. A hope-filled creation. One that clings to the promise of Jesus. Because without hope, I’d be crushed.
If you are like me and 2020 isn’t hard because of the specifics but because the volume of fear has gotten too loud to tune out, take heart there is hope. Choose again to fix my eyes on Jesus, He will help us walk on water when the waves and wind around us tells us we should be drowning.