For over three years I have lived in a state of hyperawareness of germs, due to a blood disorder that compromises my immune system. My lifestyle has included isolation at home, missing some church services, wearing facemasks, no handshaking, handholding, hugging, or kissing (except for a very few specific people). I avoid touching doorknobs, grocery cart handles, offering plates, communion plates, the back of the church pew. I avoid large crowds. I sit in the backrow or front row at church. And I try to avoid being near anyone who is sick and who appears to be sick. If I hear a cough at the grocery store, I immediately am alerted.
Now with the Corona Virus hitting the US and affecting our daily lives, you are being asked to live how I have lived on a daily basis these past three plus years. As a Christian woman in America, here are some ways I have grown through isolation and unknown threats to my life.
1. The battle of the mind
Satan likes us to be isolated, alone, and fearful. But God uses isolation to draw us near to Him. Our attitude affects how we deal with isolation and live in fearful times. It affects how we receive God’s Word. My main way to stay above the fear and loneliness has been through reading the truth found in God’s Word, the Holy Bible, about who He is and who I am.
- God holds our future in his hands. He knows His plans for us. He holds the keys to life and death ( Rev 1:17-18). For the Christian we know the hope we have in Christ. This world is not our home. It is temporary. Illness and death are part of this fallen world. We have all of eternity to live with Christ. Are you afraid of death? I was. Do you believe you are a sinner and that Jesus is the only hope for salvation to save you from your sins?
- It is neither evidence of a lack of faith to be cautious nor is it a declaration of faith to go about carefree. Pray for those around you. Consider others better than yourselves – think of their welfare (Philippians 2:3 -4 ). This very illness may be opening the door for a great revival to take place in our world. Be bold in your faith. Reach out and check on your neighbors, family, and friends. Help people. Can you encourage other around you to trust in God? Can you be bold in your faith?
- Read and study your Bible. Search for Bible verses that deal with the subject of fear or anxiety by looking at the back of your Bible in the concordance. Read what God has to say about being afraid. Write down verses that encourage you and place them where you will see them regularly. Memorize scripture. My favorite chapter in the Bible right now is Psalm 91. If you don’t have a Bible, or it is hard for you to read , you can Google You Version online and download a Bible. I like to read the New Living Translation.
- Seek to grow in your faith. Listen to Christian podcasts using tools such as RightNow Media. YouVersion offers various Bible study plans for individuals. Get involved with online Bible studies such as Proverbs 31 Ministries or Faith Gateway.
- Pray for peace. Pray for God’s mercy. Pray for boldness. Pray for healing. Pray in the name of Jesus and for God’s will to be done. Will you remember those in countries where church and the Bible are illegal and pray for them?
- Worship God through praise music and hymns.
- I journal my thoughts, prayers, fears, Bible verses. I journal things I am grateful for and then I use my journal to remember where God has led me over the past years and how He has provided for me. Journals offer reflection and tools to remember.
2. The battle of the body
I need to be cautious with caring for my body. I have been working with a doctor to help me build my immune system. God has begun to bring healing to my body. I still need to be cautious and practice safety. That has become part of my lifestyle.
- Eat healthy. And take my medications and supplements as prescribed. I diffuse essential oils which I believe helps keep me healthy as well.
- Soap and water is better than sanitizer. Sanitizer is good when you can’t wash. Avoid handshaking, handholding, touching surfaces that lots of people touch such as pin pads, door handles, public toilet handles and if I can’t use tissues or wipes between my hands and the item I touch.
- Be hyper aware of not touching your face – it takes time and practice to avoid touching ones’ face. Even as I write this I keep leaning into my hand and need to remove it from my face.
- Also sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue. No matter if it is caused by a medication, tickle, or non-contagious health issue every cough draws my attention and a physical distance.
- Be creative. My Father is the Creator and I am given this gift to create. I have to create. It is part of who I am. I find quilting and crocheting is a perfect time to listen to His Word through music or podcasts while I keep my hands busy. Creating is a way to relax.
- Get outdoors and walk if you can. As long as you are healthy enough some form of exercise is vital to help destress and relax. It also helps build your immune system. I have never had to wear my facemask outdoors.
- Finally, be self-aware. If you feel under the weather even a little, if you are sneezing more, eyes are watering, coughing more, upset stomach, etc… stay home. With allergy season approaching there will be more people coughing and sniffling. I am sorry to my fellow allergy sufferers, BUT I need to avoid you as well. Those allergies can disguise viral and bacterial infections with similar symptoms.
Fear is a normal response to the unknown, but that does not mean you need to remain fearful. As Christians we have the ability to take every thought captive that sets itself against the knowledge of God. We can make our thoughts be obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:5) through the help of the Holy Spirit. Fear sets itself up against God. Fear believes in lies that state God can’t or won’t. Fear grows because we are not in control of a situation. But are we ever truly in control?
How do I do this? Every time I have a fearful thought I practice bringing that to God in prayer. I ask for His peace. I ask for a Bible verse to show me His truth. It takes time. It takes work. I do not always recognize my fears right away. So I need to spend time in reflection. I need to choose to trust God in all things.
The Holy Spirit will enable us to search God’s Word for Truth. He will enable us to be bold, brave, and at peace during the most difficult times we face. We can trust God is in control. God is Trustworthy!
If you continue to struggle with fear you may need additional help and a counselor. There is no shame in seeking help. I believe one of the bravest things a person can do is humble themselves and seek help.