Written by Sarah Evangeline
I feel like my body has been swimming against a current for 12 long months. Our world has experienced a pandemic year that brought about change many of us never thought possible.
Sometimes it felt like lightning and thunder were overhead. Sometimes there was a lifeboat and sunshine. Other times I was thrown overboard, unable to breathe.
We were created for community, meaning that living in isolation and fear has become our new epidemic.
It can be hard to maintain or find church-like communities when we can’t see each other’s faces or host large groups in each other’s homes. I’ve had to look for outlets like a safe co-worker or neighbour I can bring my troubles to.
Before the second lockdown in Ontario at the start of 2021, I got together in my bubble of three friends. We usually met at someone’s house, made good food, and had a nice evening of laughter, games, or just good conversations.
One night as news of a coming lockdown spread, my friends and I gathered with anxiety. Our conversation was intended to be wholesome and positive, but it turned dark and fearful as we listed off all the possibilities of what could happen.
Finally, one friend said, “We need to stop talking about this and pray.”
What do we do with our anxious thoughts? How do we deal with our anxiety when the future is still out of our control and full of unknowns? How do we keep our mindset in check when we are forced into isolation or don’t have a safe community?
Think of this analogy: a thought is like a tree. The branches and the leaves are what we are currently thinking and processing, but the roots are our memories. We can have 1,000 different memories come into our minds when we experience a new thought. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a warning signal and can bring toxicity into our minds.
Let me ask you another question: If this was your last day on earth, how would you look at your life differently? How would you talk to people today? How would you talk to yourself?
This isn’t to get you to fear death. It’s actually to help change your mindset. We can create joy instead of waiting for it to come to us.
My friend reminded us that night to have a new perspective. He said, “Instead of saying, ‘Oh I just can’t wait for COVID to be over,’ we should embrace this life for what it is now, because we don’t know what is coming after this pandemic is completely over.”
And he’s right. We can still appreciate the life we’ve been given today, in the still, small moments.
God will still bring beauty and goodness out of every chaotic situation.
After we prayed about all our fears and concerns, a Scripture verse came up. John 16:33 reminds us that in this life we will have troubles, pain, and sorrow, but we need to take heart because God has already overcome the world.
So when we are alone, unable to gather with our churches and communities, we can remember God has given us power and self-control over our own minds.
Even negative or anxious thoughts can remind us to be thankful for what we have and for the lives we’ve been given. God is already repurposing all things for our good.