It finally happened. I had just finished reading an article on Facebook about another COVID-19 casualty. Heart wrenching. My response to these articles up until this point had been pretty much the same; sad, a little scared, but for the most part, feeling like the effects of this virus were still a long distance off from my family or friends. Before this article, I hadn’t allowed my mind to believe that the virus was here, now. So, it happened. I lost it. I was scared. I was worried for my family and my friends. I felt like no one around me was understanding the seriousness of this virus and I was coming to terms with how much control I don’t actually have.
I pulled myself together after reading that article and decided one thing needed to change. The Facebook app on my phone needed to go. The posts my well meaning friends were sharing were becoming a major hurdle in my attempt to keep my anxiety at bay. There is a fine line between staying informed, and getting sucked into the panic, and it was getting harder and harder to create that boundary for myself.
After I deleted the Facebook app, I decided to reflect a little bit more on this emotional breakdown, that quite honestly caught me off guard. I began to realize that there was a lot of underlying anxiety and fear around the Coronavirus that I hadn’t come to terms with yet. In processing that, I found myself desiring a different experience in the next 30+ days. I didn’t want to suffer through this season trying to cover up my anxiety, and I didn’t want to feel controlled by my fear. When I try to cover those things up, they just resurface in really ugly ways. I get critical other others, really short tempered, and even find myself getting uptight and unable to enjoy the moment. As I was thinking about how I might be successful in having a different experience for as long as this pandemic plays out, I came to realize that this was going to be a battle for my mind.
Philippians 4:4-7 says this,
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
At first glance, this verse seems unrealistic, doesn’t it? I mean really. How are we actually supposed to rejoice in this season? There is so much crazy, and loss, and disappointment, and fear. Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying. God absolutely holds space for grieving what is being lost in this season. He invites us to do that with him and he promises to be near to the brokenhearted (Matt 5:3-4). But upon further reflection, and even other examples in scripture (See Daniel 6:10, Colossians 3:15), I believe this verse sheds light on an important spiritual truth.
When we exchange our anxiety for gratitude in prayer, we will receive the peace of God which transcends all understanding.
In his podcast, Bridgetown Daily, John Mark Comer says it this way,
“Gratitude is the antidote to anxiety. Anxiety is grasping for control of what we do not have in the future. Gratitude is being thankful for what we do have in the present.”
Again, I don’t want to minimize the great fear and anxiety that may be present for you in the season – I understand that is real and it is true. However, I am also asking that you don’t minimize the promises and truths about God in this season either – He is real and He is true. So, would you join me in using gratitude as an antidote for anxiety this week?
It has been amazing how many opportunities I have found to offer up thanksgiving to God in prayer just over the last few days I’ve been practicing this truth.
Sitting out on the back deck soaking up the sunshine, thank you, God.
Having an able body to go on daily walks and time to prioritize physical activity, thank you, God.
Technology that keeps me connected with dear friends and family, thank you, God.
Two goofy dogs that readily provide snuggles and entertainment, thank you, God.
The generosity of my parents for housing us through our transition back to Kansas City, thank you, God.
SPRING IS HERE, thank you, God!
I woke up this morning, feeling unusually light. After 3+ weeks of feeling anxious and burdened, I am thankful for the gift of peace that I feel deep in my spirit today. Riley and I are supposed to be on a plane headed to Italy right now. It would have been okay if I woke up feeling grief or disappointment, but in all honesty, I am just really thankful for the day I’ve been given. Today I have an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine with my family, write, and relax in God’s goodness. Today is going to be a good day.
Be thankful, and be encouraged, friends.