Facing fear and COVID-19

Life

In December leading into January of this year, I think I responded to the Coronavirus as many of us did – by laughing it off. The prospect of an epidemic such as China’s springing up in our own backyard was terrifying but it wasn’t our problem yet. The story developed for months. The situation worsened and was declared a pandemic as the months passed.

Suddenly, during the second week of March, things got real quickly. The virus was spreading rapidly in the United States and slowly but surely colleges, events, and schools were being shut down. As a person who is prone to anxiety over things that are completely out of my control, my first instinct was a cancerous growth of despair. The pit in my stomach was debilitating. I paced around my house aimlessly.

As a person who is prone to anxiety over things that are completely out of my control, my first instinct was a cancerous growth of despair.

The stress only worsened towards the end of the week. I was supposed to return to work the following Monday and we’d just been out for Spring Break. I knew students and teachers who had traveled to affected areas or booked a cheap flight thanks to the fear of the spreading virus. I was worried that we’d all go back on Monday and it would be a hotbed for the spread. I had two boxes of tissues and half a tub of clorox wipes left in my classroom. There were no other disinfectant cleaners to be found at the store.

Later that week, after days of worry, my school district canceled school for the coming week and I had a small sense of relief. The district insisted that they expected to return March 23rd. The pit grew as the date drew near. Eventually, our governor shut all schools down. We’re currently out until May 4th.

My husband still had to work. So I’d stay home with our son, preparing to teach online and taking care of a one year old who hates mama’s computer for no reason other than it takes precious attention away from him. (Normally, I work while he’s asleep…but these are not normal times!)

John would get home and I’d make him sanitize, change clothes immediately, and scrub his hands. Then I’d scrub the door handles, his keys, and his cell phone.

Two and a half weeks ago, it was determined that many jobs could be done from home. Luckily for us, John’s job was determined to be one of those. He’s been home with us ever since he came home early on a Wednesday afternoon. My mind rested just a little bit more. We understand the great privilege we have, being able to hole up in our home waiting for this to pass.

After we were all quarantined, I found myself fearing trips to the store. I have asthma, so John has been our grocery getter. Things were getting worse and again every trip felt like a risk. If I’m being honest, it still does.

A funny thing I’ve noticed about myself during my lifetime is that I will be the first person to look for the silver linings, I’ll even find them…but I don’t sit with them. If I let myself, I sit with worry, anxiety and despair.

The thing is, we all have a choice every single day: whether or not we want to sit with worry and despair. We all have the ability to decide how our home, family, and mind respond to this crisis. I urge you to choose faith over fear.

choose faith over fear

I read something recently about how someday our kids will tell us how they remember living through this pandemic and they will remember spending time together, being homeschooled, the silly games and activities we play to pass the time. I hope with all my heart that that is true. We have to make it come true.

I realized at some point that I was allowing myself to be paralyzed and stagnant with fear. That didn’t feel very radical to me. I also came across the saying “Faith over fear,” again recently. It’s a saying that I’ve seen around for years. It’s unclear exactly where it comes from but I think it’s a beautiful mantra during these times.

I realized at some point that I was allowing myself to be paralyzed and stagnant with fear.

I urge you today to choose faith over fear. Choose to have faith in God, faith in the goodness of humanity and your fellow man, faith that science will deliver a cure, faith in our medical staff and other essential employees who are risking themselves everyday to keep our world spinning. Pray it out, write it out, talk it out and then, most importantly, LET. IT. GO.

We can only do what we are able to do. We can only do the best that we can. I can’t control the fact that my neighbors are having a pool party or the fact that my county has passed no stay at home or shelter in place orders. I can control the number of grocery trips we take. I can control the fact that we only go out if it is absolutely necessary. I can control the fact that I sanitize everything we’ve ordered online in lieu of going to the store.

Choose to have faith in God, faith in the goodness of humanity and your fellow man, faith that science will deliver a cure, faith in our medical staff and other essential employees who are risking themselves everyday to keep our world spinning.

Do your best and leave the rest. That is the only way to protect your peace. Protecting your peace extends to your children and how they’ll remember this crisis. They know it when we’re stressed and panicked and short with them, no matter how small.

I urge you to find ways to choose faith over fear, love over hate, grace over grimace, and joy over despair. We can and we will get through this together. Take it one hour, one day, one week at a time. Choose faith and keep choosing faith.

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