Because of COVID-19 many in our world, and likely someone you know, is already experiencing loss, maybe even great loss. It may not be the loss of life, but loss of physical connection, loss of freedom to travel, loss of income or income earning potential, loss of access to goods and services, loss of opportunity to congregate, loss of opportunity fully to celebrate, loss of conversation, loss of certain sounds, certain smells, certain sensations, loss of experiencing fully the joys of all that comprises our regular routines and processes, loss of an opportunity or for accomplishing a goal that was about to be achieved when the world suddenly shut down—these losses and more can lead to a loss of hopefulness, a loss of looking forward to positive outcomes, a loss of imagination because possibilities seem limited, a loss of dreaming about the future in the same way we were dreaming about the future before.
With such loss—especially in circumstances where it is quite literally impossible to know what our worlds will be like tomorrow, what statistics will tell us about the days ahead, what the ways are in which our losses will increase—some anxiety is inevitable. After all, for most of us, responding to unfolding events brought on by the encroachment into our lives of a variable we cannot control, cannot easily sense, and whose movements, influence, and spread are relatively unpredictable—it can all develop into a long, slow wait, or a series of frustrations without clear moves being made toward resolution. The places where we might normally find direction, security, or even just distraction—work, government, news agencies, hobbies, recreation, entertainment—are so affected by our present crisis that they cannot function for us like they normally would. They are as confused, limited, non-functioning, helpless, and unhelpful as we feel.
In light of loss, in light of our new, as yet still transitioning, anxiety causing realities, what can healthy look like for us?
It can include reflection. It can include patience and measured response. It can include stepping back, slowing down, breathing deeply, and thinking just as deeply. This all came on us soooo fast, but we don’t have to let it push us into either one of frenzy and flailing, or limpness and lethargy, or despondency and despair.
So, the fact that I am loved, that I have meaningful relationships, that my basic physical needs are met, that I can contribute something positive to the lives of others, that even though currently limited in many ways I am still able to communicate, that I can express my feelings to my loved ones, that I can use my creativity and my imagination to create, that I am not entirely helpless or without resources—in these things there are the foundations for right response to what we are all experiencing.
In addition, but, really, ultimately for me—finally for me and so many others I know—there exists the eternal well of life giving spiritual connection and union with our God, Creator, Saviour, and Sustainer that transcends all the losses and anxieties that are now just always right there. The Apostle Paul says that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. He says that for Him even death could be gain because life is Christ. He says that authentic, sustaining life is not found in the shifting shadows and irregularities of physical life here, but in the Spirit. God loves us, our loved ones, and He loves a world experiencing mountains of loss and anxiety, promising that He will not stop loving us and that He is not absent, even when we wonder about both.
In such reflections I am finding personal comfort and peace, even an ascending hopefulness about, and openness to, what God will do in coming weeks and months. I pray you may experience the same.