Resisting Fear

‘Uncertain’ has never been my comfort zone. While I am generally easy going and flexible, I still like having a solid reference to hang on to. 

I have been known to say, when asked if there’s anything new in my life, “Nope. Pretty much one day is similar to the next. But that’s ok. That means nothing bad has happened.” The past two years have had too many unpleasant events, and boring is just fine with me, thank you.

Of course, that similarity of one day into the next has been tempered with travel breaks and visits from friends or family. I like it that way. As much as I pride myself in being adventurous and flexible, I really like predictable.

The current state of affairs has me, like so many of you, unsettled. Everything changes from one day to the next. The news is terrifying. Tomorrow is uncertain. Sometimes, in the dark of night, I awaken and think. And feel the urge to allow panic to rise.

But I refuse to give in to panic. 

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

I don’t worry so much for myself. I’m healthy and strong and feel like I would do just fine if I got the big “C.” Most of my children are healthy, strong, and young. It’s others I love am concerned about. My husband continues to see patients that need him, both in the clinic (thankfully moving as much as he can to telemedicine) and in the hospital and will unless he becomes unable to. My son is on anti-rejection meds after his kidney transplant. My almost 87-year-old mother is currently stuck in Florida. My mother and father-in-law are half a world away.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Phillipians 4:6

Multiple times a day I have to surrender them to the only One who has control over this crisis. I do what I can in limiting socialization—planning to leave home only to do grocery pick up as necessary. But my nature is to do, not wait and see.

Some would call me a pessimist (I consider myself a realist) mixed with huge parts of optimism. That optimism comes because of my faith, not my own natural inclination. To keep away from that slippery edge of panic or depression over what I cannot control, there are several things I’ve put into practice. Common sense things really. Maybe they will be useful for you.

  1.  Get out of bed and get dressed at a normal hour.  It’s easy to think, “I don’t have to be anywhere. No one needs me. What difference does it make?” But it makes a difference. My routine is something I can control. I need to make it predictable and healthy.
  2. Make my bed. Even if I don’t feel like it, there is something about tidiness that gives a settled feeling and helps the rest of the day go better.
  3. Worship. Sing. Pray. Read. Listen to music. Listen to the still small voice and let God restore my soul.
  4. Cook. Okay, I admit that this may not be a stress reliever for many, but I love to cook and my family appreciates it. It’s the cleaning up I don’t care for. Which brings me to:
  5. Clean. Get things straightened up. Somehow I feel like this virus can be better defeated if my surfaces are clear and easy to spray down, if my carpets are vacuumed and free of whatever is trailed in from outside. This is also a good time to go through and get rid of junk that has accumulated but I normally don’t have time to focus on it. If I get things cleared and clean now, then when I am free to go out, I won’t be worried about so much I left undone at home. I also use a clean rag with some Lysol and wipe down doorknobs, cabinet knobs and light switches at least once a day. Call me paranoid.
  6. Redecorate. My family and friends will laugh at this one. One good friend told me recently that I redecorate more than anyone she knows. Yesterday I painted my exercise room. It hadn’t been touched up in almost 24 years when we first moved into the house and it became my son’s bedroom. Seriously, a coat of paint can bring new life to a space. My husband jokes that our house will stand in the fiercest earthquake because the layers of latex will hold it together—all except the exercise room, I’m assuming, since it’s been woefully neglected. Move the furniture around for a new look. This is also a great way to clean under items that normally don’t get moved.
  7. Call a friend/relative. Seriously. This is big. Call or text someone—especially if there is someone you know that is having to hunker down alone. Alone for a weekend may be a pleasure for an introvert like myself, but for weeks on end? Check on those who live alone, especially if they are elderly. You may be able to do a grocery pickup and deliver it to their door if they have need. Don’t go visiting. Your visit may do more harm than good. 
  8. Exercise. My least favorite thing indoors. Give me a hike any day. Treadmill? Boring!! Still, exercise is a known mood elevator, and helps maintain good health. We can all use that right now. On days that are warm and dry enough, I plan to accompany my sister for a walk outside (I live in the country)—each of us keeping a safe distance apart– just to be able to see and talk to each other in person.
  9. Do hobbies, crafts, read a book, play pranks on each other. Watch a funny movie together with those hunkered down in your home. We can all use something to laugh over.
  10. Learn something new. Join a group online. Take an online course. YouTube is FULL of people sharing a wealth of knowledge.

Today, I met with over 400 other writers online and we spent time doing word races. A word race is where you set a timer, in this case 20 minutes, and you write as fast and furious as you can. It can really get those creative juices flowing.

For those of you with young children at home, this list will look very different. For you I pray for patience, steady humor and your sanity.

I am thankful to live in this day. As I was telling my husband yesterday, I feel kind of like a pioneer family, off in our house alone on the prairie… Except I have electricity, running water, telephone, TV, internet, grocery pick up or delivery, and my life doesn’t depend on my growing or killing my food… Well, maybe not quite a pioneer. Sigh. So much for feeling brave and tough.

I walked around our property this morning. The sky was gray as is the norm lately. My daffodils, however are in full bloom, hostas are pushing through the shady bare ground, pear trees are turning white. All bring with them a promise of life and beauty to come.

Pray for each other, our nation, and mankind as a whole. We’re all in this together. Let’s encourage each other and each do our best to keep each other safe. And don’t forget, keep smiling.

What are you doing to help you cope during this time? Please share below. Someone may need what you have to say!

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