Is it safe to come out? Should I remain in hiding? Fear not, you need not be afraid of the terror that stalks in the night.
Am I actually talking about the dreaded coronavirus or something else? What about my absence from the blogosphere?
Don’t worry, I am not pulling a switch; rather, it’s the overwhelming sense of fear that so often accompanies the unknown. A few months ago, I decided to do a new thing and really step out of my comfort zone. I did not want to just start a new blog and get a fresh start.
It is easy to get lost in the endless sea of speculations or what I’d call the “What If” game. What if, my new blog is a failure? What if, I get sick from that disease? What if, the economy falls apart? What if, you missed out on an opportunity to help others? What if, you got sick and recovered?
In my case, I did not want a repeat of my old blog site, with a new name. I actually wanted to do something new and needed a fresh start. At the same time, I was saddled with anxiety about what to write. I generally prefer to write what I think the readers want to read. Hint: This is actually not a good strategy. As it leaves me on an endless treadmill chasing after other people’s interests and not my own interest.
Sound familiar? It is precisely what I did on the old blog site. I was stressing myself out by anxiously chasing what I think others will read. Truth is, people are going to read what appeals to them. I need to write on topics that I’m passionate about.
Yes, it is safe to come out of the shell and take a risk in pressing forward. Life is filled with challenges, setbacks, and rewards. Don’t let anxiety about the past and doubts about the future keep you, from living.
If you are reading this article then you’re more likely worried about the coronavirus, the future, and how to stave off the feeling of depression and hopelessness. You may be asking, “What does your writer’s anxiety have to do with my being trapped in my house?”
Did you not catch the part about my excessively worrying relevant topics? How about my anxiety centering on my trying something very new like possibly doing a podcast? How about the part on my being a prisoner of the past? What do I mean by the last question?
A niche is a specialized category of writing. Not all niches are popular and garner a high level of site traffic. As it happens, I did not pick a niche that has a high level of site traffic. I stay because I enjoy writing encouraging stories from a Christian perspective.
If I wanted an easy niche to write for then I’d pick politics or technology. Even then, I would have run into plenty of challenges that are unique to those channels. Here’s the first key.
You can’t live in fear of what may happen. You and I need to move forward. It’s one thing to plan for the future and there is a future. However, it is quite a different story to waste time worrying about what may or may not happen. Here’s what Jesus has to say about anxiety or endless worrying:
The Cure for Anxiety
25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But [f]seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.Matthew 6:25-34 [NAB]
Living in fear about tomorrow will get you, nowhere. Instead, it will leave you in bondage and trapped in a web of fear and powerlessness. Anxiety shrieks that there is a ferocious lion out there! You’ll be eaten or get someone else killed! Is this really how you want to live?
What is the difference between planning for the future and worrying about it? For one, you have to believe there is a future and it goes beyond the current lockdown or current negative circumstances. Secondly, you need to believe there is a hopeful future or you’re not likely to press forward.
With Jesus’ help, I’ve learned to become a hope-filled realist. What do I mean by that? A hope-filled realist is someone that sees the problem and he doesn’t ignore it. Instead, he seeks to bring hope into the situation and looks for constructive solutions. Here’s a good example.
I was alerted to the potential food shortages, in the middle of March. It came on the heel of the pandemic sweeping New Jersey. The severity became quite apparent when I could not get a delivery date for my groceries. It seems everyone had the same idea! Plus, I can’t drive. You might think that I’d be screwed.
Not so fast! Yes, I had a serious problem; however, my Father has already provided some solutions. For one, I am blessed to have nearby friends who helped with getting to the grocery store. Secondly, the Holy Spirit placed a need to do some bulk grocery shopping.
Amazon grocery service to the rescue! Because I had the practice of putting money in a savings account and tithing, I had the needed funds. By the way, I started doing all of this, before I saw the news report of long lines at the many food pantries. I am so glad that I listened to the prompting of the Spirit!
A problem arose and I sought God’s solution to the problem. Some answers were already provided. Other answers came in the form of leading of the Holy Spirit. God is no respecter of person. He’d love to do the same thing for you. You don’t need to run or rely on your own strength.
It’s a lot easier to plan for the future when you have a hope-filled outlook on the future. It is even better, if you invite God to be a part of it. Keep in mind, God is a lot bigger than your problems or circumstances. This is why it helps to place our eyes on Jesus and seek Heaven’s perspective on the situation.
Here is another key to help break out of your bondage of fear. I am not being melodramatic when I call it, bondage of fear. Under ordinary circumstances, we have all faced situations prompting some level of anxieties. Yet, it never enslaved us in such a way that this dreaded virus has done.
The worst part comes when we isolate ourselves, from each other. All human beings are social creatures and we all need some level of social interaction. This is true for both, introvert and extravert. If not, Facebook would have been a colossal failure.
Don’t confuse social isolation with physical isolation! In 1990, things were quite different. The ability to reach out to other people were severely limited. The lockdown would have been a lot more devastating because economic opportunities and social opportunities were quite limited.
Guess what? It’s 2020; not 1990. Today, I can hop on a Zoom call and join my church family for prayer and worship. Other people are using Zoom to conduct their business. One friend had a social get together with family members. It doesn’t stop there.
We have the ability to reach out to other people, on other platforms, too. The point is, you are not alone! Do you have a smartphone? Did you know that you can still call people by dialing their phone #? The same principle applies to FaceTime or Facebook Messenger.
A kind word or a word of encouragement can go a long way and they won’t die from it. The same thing applies to you, too. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with your neighbors. Just stand about 6 feet away, that’s all. Perhaps, you can help them; as my friends were a help.
What does this have to do with overcoming fear and anxiety? For one, you will begin to get your mind off yourself. It would also position you to see that the world has not ended. Yes, life still goes on.
You are not alone!
By watching my neighbors, I can see that people are not dropping dead, left, and right. I can readily see that life goes on because I see them, walking around. Of course, we are to use common sense when shopping. Yet, it does not stop people from living. You can learn quite a lot from hanging around your elders.
Here is the final key point. Do you know that you can have a peace that will help you weather the storms of life? It is a peace that I’ve often enjoyed and it has helped me in many of my own storms. It’s a peace that you can have, too. Here’s what Paul has to say about this peace and how it can help with anxieties
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Phillippians 4:4-7 [NASB]
It is truly a peace that surpasses all understanding. How does one get this peace? It comes from cultivating a relationship with God, the Father through His Son, Jesus. No, it is not a magic wand and one can get distracted where you can lose sight of this Peace. Don’t worry, Peace did not go anywhere. He’s still right there.
Yes, I am talking about a person and his name is Jesus. You have a choice. Am I going to trust Jesus with my problems? Am I going to rely on my own strength? Am I going to allow anxiety and fear to run over me, like a tank? It’s a learning process and you’ll get better, over time.
Don’t be afraid to spend time talking to Jesus, about your fears and concerns. Don’t be afraid to ask God about His perspective on what’s happening. Yes, God, the Father is shaking things up; however, the time of judgment has not come.
Use this time of opportunity to talk with God and talk with Him. Don’t be afraid to spend time in the Word of God; as opposed to spending time with the mainstream news media.
Be of good courage! Do not be afraid! You are not alone!