Quarantine Qualms: Overcoming Anxiety- A Faith Perspective
Updated: Jun 9, 2020
So once upon a time, Robin Roberts made a profound statement when discussing her battle with cancer. She said "Every message has a mess". That statement has resonated and stuck with me for almost a decade. I turn to it, repeat it like a mantra when I'm nervous or don't understand. And believe me when I tell you, my life has seen it's fair share of messes. And so far, she's been right. Each of them had a message that ended up shaping me and guiding me to the person I've become. There are so many unknowns in this world. This life brings with it the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Those joys feel untouchable and the blows- straight to the gut, knocking the wind right out of your sails as if life is laughing in your face at just how comfortable you thought you were. And man- if that's not the epitome of what I am feeling right now then I don't know what is.
Quarantine. I'm imprisoned in my home for my own safety and the safety of those around me. My so called "freedom", that expectation, that right that 2 weeks ago I felt to which I was entitled? Yeah, that's been stripped from me very very quickly. And I find myself, probably like many of you, feeling torn. In one sense, I am terrified. Filled to the brim with fear. Nervous that this pandemic won't end well- that many people I love might suffer or die. I have questions about where it came from, how to stop it, why we weren't better prepared as society, why we can't seem to get a grip as quickly as I had anticipated that we would be able to, what my life is going to look like in the near future, whether my paycheck will continue to come, whether food will be on my table, and much much more. I was doing pretty well until a few nights ago and then I had a major panic attack. Tears streaming endlessly down my face. Breathing shallow- not from illness but from pure panic. I was scared. I still am. I don't like the unknowns of life. I get anxious when not in control. And goodness gracious, if this mess has taught me anything, its just how out of control I really am.
On the other hand, I find myself acutely aware of the things I daily take for granted and for which I am immensely grateful for now that I no longer have those items, experiences, people, and places right at my finger tips. The slowdown has brought with it an opportunity to stop. To breathe. To listen. To learn. To be compassionate and kind. To self-care. To refuel my body with renewed energy and inner peace and calm.
In the past two weeks, I've finally gotten around to some house chores that I had been putting off for months. Initially it was a way for me to feel productive, but soon I found that the sense of absolute relief that flooded my body when those chores were done was reinforcement enough. It was like a weight had been lifted from shoulders and I could let go of that nagging sensation that those items on my to-do list hadn't been done yet. The clean house, all organized and tidy, made it more bearable to be stuck inside. The space in it's entirety was rejuvenated in a sense and felt like new. Today as I sit in my new home office space, with the white desk, and comfy chair, the grapefruit scented candle and rose petal hand lotion, the faux succulent in the corner, and the cute pink lamp- looking out the window as the sun beams move across the pavement in the driveway below and the tree dances in the breeze, I am remarkably calm and at peace in this moment.
I did yoga this morning with the rising sun. That's something that, before all of this, I would have only gotten to do when I'm sailing on our boat on the weekends. My normal mornings would have me dragging out of bed- no time for yoga- and pushing myself to get to the office on time for yet another morning meeting. But now? Now, I rise from my slumber each morning having actually gotten rest the night before and as my coffee brews in the kitchen and the warmth and deep roasted scent wafts up the stairs to my bedroom, you'll find me stretched out on my yoga mat breathing deeply and inhaling energy with the new day. My muscles are finally starting to release the tension they've held for the past 7 years. There's some kinks and pains, but I can tell something inside is stirring. And it's not the same anxiety and worry that usually encompasses my fast paced life.
I've been journaling more too- thoughts here and there. I haven't been letting them pass unnoticed or unrecognized. I've been committing them to paper just because and acknowledging the ways in which my mind works- that book I've been wanting to write for years is finally starting to come to fruition with pages coming to life in my journal. My devotionals have been a larger part of my mornings and with them comes a sense of inner joy from the Holy Spirit- I can't help but find it ironic that this time, these weeks of pulling away, pulling back, no longer being able to rely on the material world in the same way, is occurring during the season of Lent. I no longer am searching for an answer to the question, "what did you give up for Lent this year?". I am learning a whole new Lenten lesson than normal- this message certainly has a mess and it has proven to edify my understanding and reliance on my Faith above all else. An uncomfortable lesson to learn at times for sure. 40 days and 40 nights, my savior spent in the desert. And yet, not even a full 14 days in to quarantine and I'm becoming a bit stir crazy and missing the stuff that made up my world before. I am learning to lean on God. To trust that he will provide. That he will heal. That he will mend the brokenhearted and the brokenness of this world. Specific biblical passages, I'm finding are providing comfort in this moment. Maybe you aren't Christian or don't practice faith and that's okay. But for those of you who do, or even if you don't, perhaps these passages can provide some comfort in this time of unknowing:
2 Corinthians 9:8 "And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work"
James 5: 15: "And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven"
Luke 12:24 "Consider the birds: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!"
Matthew 6:31 "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?', or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'"
Genesis 9:3: "Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."
Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus"
Easter day may look a bit different this year, but I am reminded that regardless of how it looks, Jesus will rise. It's not a question. There is no uncertainty in that. It is truth. He is truth. The truth, the way, and the life. In that I trust and don't fear. That gives me joy and calm in this time of uncertainty. He WILL rise.
So, what will my days look like now moving forward? I can't say for sure. But what I can say, is that my days will be filled with more moments of gratitude and humility. I will experience more opportunities for yoga and self care and renewed personal energy. I will continue to bless others and be kind- though perhaps in a new and creative way and from afar. I will pray more and listen more. I will write. I will love. I will laugh and cry. I will be afraid and not let those fears own me. Jesus already owns me and that's enough. So for now, I will continue to try and see this situation as a multitude of blessings in disguise. And the rest of it- well I'm choosing to believe Robin Roberts, that every message has a mess.