By guest blogger and Medi-Share member, Niki Hardy
Pandemic isn’t exactly a word that ushers in peace to the depths of our souls. Add in the word “global” and it’s an open invitation for fear, worry, and overwhelm to keep us fretting all night as they ride roughshod through our minds.
There’s so much we don’t know; so much has been put on hold, postponed, and cancelled, possibly never to return. Bogus advice mingles with crucial information and it’s easy to get lost in a maze of media coverage. It’s a health crisis that’s ballooned into a financial, emotional, and family crisis.
Perhaps you’re immunosuppressed, dealing with OCD, or live with the daily struggle of chronic health issues, and now the increased uncertainty of who’s healthy and safe hovers over you like a piano swinging from a balcony.
Maybe you have elderly loved ones dealing with health concerns living four states away and you carry the heaviness of whether you’ll see them again.
I get it.
Even before I’d heard of Covid-19 I’d been in that place of fear and worry more times than I like to remember. Whether it was seeing both my mom and sister lose their battles with cancer or the sleepless nights during treatment for my own cancer, I quickly found myself living in survival mode, fighting to catch a breath, as the fear raged on in what became my new normal.
I remember the last time I was caught in the fear of unknowing. I’d just had a mammogram where they’d performed a biopsy and although the procedure was over, the waiting wasn’t.
Given my recent run in with cancer and my family’s medical history, I was asked to wait while the radiologist checked whether the ominous grainy spots they’d discovered were sinister. In a closet-sized room I perched on a sofa that squeaked as I nervously shifted position and waited.
Even scrolling on my phone couldn’t distract me.
My palms were clammy, I was still sore from the biopsy needle, and all I could think was, “Not again, Lord. Not again.”
Maybe you’ve had moments like that too. Moments when the air gets sucked out of the room or you’re left hanging in the void between before and after.
The fear in the not knowing.
Maybe that’s how this pandemic now feels and I wonder if it’s become your new normal.
Our world shrinks and like a submarine trapped on the ocean floor, our oxygen levels slowly decline. It’s understandable.
At some point the pandemic will move on but those moments of unknowing will always be with us.
Your teenager misses curfew and your head spins with images of her car wrapped around a lamppost.
The phone rings to say your dad has slipped, fallen, and broken his hip while caring for your mum with dementia.
Another month passes and still the pregnancy test refuses to celebrate what you’ve been longing for.
The biopsy comes back with the worst news imaginable.
Whether it’s the relentlessness of life or the panic of the pandemic, what are we meant to do?
How can we fight the fear at times like these?
I wish I could tell you I have a magic pill or a fail-safe mantra to banish fear in a blink of an eye, but I don’t. When fear and uncertainty fuel anxiety and then crescendo into full on panic, I don’t have the capacity for much, but here’s what I’ve discovered helps fight the fear.
These three simple things help me sit in the unknowing and even in the midst of it, feel calmer, happier, more full of hope, and able to face whatever comes my way:
1. Stop and breathe:
Often, when fear rears its ugly head, all I can do is stop and breathe.
Breathe in Jesus, breathe out the fear.
Breathe in Jesus, breathe out the anxiety.
Breathe in Jesus, breathe out panic fermenting inside.
I even close my eyes, lower my shoulders so I’m not wearing them as earrings, visualize Jesus filling me up, then all the fear leaving as thick grey smoke.
Studies have shown that simply stopping and breathing slowly for two minutes reduces our heart rate and lowers our blood pressure. Add to that breathing in the One who is the very Breath of Life, and I immediately feel calmer.
2. Focus on truth:
When life is difficult and there’s so much we don’t know, we tend to fixate on the what-ifs, and maybe’s. We focus on what we don’t know rather than what we do.
Flipping the script and focusing on truth fights the fear. We may not know who is sick and who is well, but we do know Jesus comforts us in our troubles. We may not know when we’ll get to hug friends and family again, but we do know God is with us and isn’t going to leave us. We might not know how we’re going to pay the mortgage now that we’ve lost our job, but we do know God is the Great Provider.
By focusing on what we know to be true about who and whose we are, rather than on everything we don’t know, we anchor ourselves to the hope and strength that God has given us.
3. Keep truth close:
With our minds swirling and racing, our heart beat escalating like a demented metronome, and our flight or fight instinct kicking into full gear, we need truth close at hand. We don’t want to be scrabbling around and hunting for truth when fear starts to scream at us. We need to keep scriptural truth and prayer close at hand and easy to reach.
By being able to utter a quick prayer, reach for scripture, or even the simple truth that LOVE > FEAR as soon as we begin to hear fear raise its voice, we can squash it before it begins to take over.
Doing all these things have helped me kick fear to the curb and feel stronger, calmer, and more confident, knowing that I’ve got this because God’s got me.
He’s got you, too, and to help you stop and breathe, focus on truth, and keep it close, I’ve teamed up with a few friends to bring you a beautiful bundle of resources to fight fear.
This Fight Fear bundle includes printable prayers, scriptures, wallpaper for your mobile phone, and a lovely print of Psalm 91.
They’re all FREE to download and you can grab yours HERE.
I like to say that thriving is a team sport and no one wins alone. These difficult and unprecedented times are no exception. Christina Care Ministry and I want to help you not just survive during these tough times, but thrive.
Niki Hardy is a speaker, author and cancer “thriver” who’s all about helping you discover that with God, life doesn’t have to be pain-free to be full, then go live it. Find out more about Niki and her book, Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart at www.nikihardy.com.