There is a darkness on the edge of town, and it is killing people, so let’s pull together and defeat it.Tom Hank’s
In today’s article I show you how to overcome the fear of COVID-19.
Have you ever noticed that panic tends to bring out the worse in us? Instead of fear and panic, why don’t we engage in wisdom, courage?
There is a distinct difference between fear, panic, and awareness. With that awareness comes responsibility, honest respect for the scale of the problem, and a desire to do what a person can do as an individual to lower its spread.
One can be aware of COVID-19, aware of what needs to be done to minimize its spread-and we should do those things. The danger is that we can make the situation worse with the negative energy that comes from fear. Like fire, our imagination can create something beautiful or steal, rob, and destroy. Left unattended fear, which leads to panic, can be deceptive, and even deadly. Panic is nothing more than fear on steroids. When one is in a panic mode, one of the first things to disappear is sanity!
Since the COVID-19 appeared on the world’s stage, it has become almost omnipresent. We have been mesmerized by its spread, divided by how to respond to it.
Could we have become so obsessed with COVID-19 that we have diminished our resilience as individuals and as a nation? I believe the jury is still out on this topic.
Anyway, between the news, all of the conspiracy theories, and the politicization of wearing a mask, I think we need a shift in focus.
Proverbs 23:7 reminds us, “For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
There is a puzzle here regarding human behavior. While people are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves, they remain stuck.
Maybe it is time to shift our mental gears. Perhaps we need to move away from the negative energy-zapping fear of this worldwide epidemic. Maybe it is time to use the mental and spiritual antibodies of faith and personal resilience to inoculate ourselves and develop courage, hope, good health, and do what we can to lower our risk and at least arrest its growth. Fear brings out the worst in us. Being resilient and having a sense of hope, inner strength, and courage will help us have the stamina both as individuals and as a country to fight this virus.
The correct mindset is so important as we are experiencing this tough summer as COVID-19 continues to take its toll.
I believe that we will survive this current pandemic in my heart, but we will be judged on how we survived it by what we will become after it subsides? As individuals and as a nation, we will either be uplifted by our response, or we will be damaged by how we failed to face the challenge with courage, grit, and a sense of “us against COVID-19!” How you and I handle a crisis will determine how we will live our lives. Will you live with regret or use your personal courage, faith, and resilience to come out on the other side of this as a healthier, more caring person.
One of the things I always say in my Spiritual First Aid Class is, “A crisis is always a turning point, a dangerous opportunity. With that in mind let’s take a look what fear can do to us and how we can push it back.
Fear serves one—and only one—purpose: to keep you alive. In its most basic, primal form, it is nothing more than a survival response. Fear can be a good thing. It is a profound biological instinct that can prevent us from doing crazy things that could kill us. For example, if you are working in your backyard and see a snake slithering into hedges next to your house—well, let’s put it this way—I doubt you are feeling peaceful and calm.
Fear can produce positive energy that moves us forward, help us make a life change, and give us a new perspective. Unfortunately, while fear can protect us from pain and harm, fear is not always rational and healthy.
God didn’t create us to live our lives in fear. He created us to live with power, love, and a sound mind.
I love the way the Amplified Bible translates 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, craven and clinging, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and love and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” The greek word for this is sophrone which does mean well-balanced, sober, and self-controlled. The root of the word is phren, which relates to the diaphragm, which helps regulate physical life by controlling breathing and assisting in blood flow.
Let’s look at what fear does to us and in us:
First, irrational fear is a very primal, gut function. It is an essential low-level brain function. While fear can become disarming and lead to self-inflicted sabotage, it can be overcome. When we take time to think through our fears, we usually discover that those concerns are rooted in irrational thoughts.
Second, fear can make us cowards. We, humans, tend to frame our fears in ways that soothe our egos. You and I will say something like, “I am prudent and cautious.” We might even say, “I am a little nervous.” Or we say, “It’s not that important.”
Here is an important life tip:
If you want to start overcoming those irrational fears that keep you bound, you will have to call it what it is.
Instead of saying, “I am not doing this because it makes me nervous,” try saying, “I am not going to do this because I am a coward, and I am scared spitless.” You will be amazed when you tell yourself the truth—aloud. xx is the beginning of calling it what it is. Trust me—this is a starting point.
Third, fear steals our integrity. It makes us hypocritical. Simply stated, integrity means acting in a way wholly congruent with our values and beliefs. When we want to do something and believe it is the correct thing to do, but we fail to do it because of fear, we violate our core values. Living a “True North” life means living in alignment with our principles.
The first time I heard the term “True North” was while I was in the Army. It is a term used in map and compass training which differentiates the True North from Magnetic North difference on a topographical map. Steven Covey borrowed this term and turned it into a metaphor about our bottom line personal ethics—the line we are unwilling to cross based on those ethics. Therefore, when you and I are faced, as we often are in this challenging life, with the question of what direction to take, we need to refer to our true north for guidance. Metaphorically: Do I “cross” my personal line? (Lie, cheat, steal, be disloyal to a loved one, hit or be abusive physically or verbally, etc.). Never lose sight of your true north.
Fourth, fear leaves lament and regret in its wake. You and I have made and will continue to make, missteps, and mistakes. The key is: Will we repeat the same screw-ups again and again, or will we learn from them and make the necessary adjustments to change the outcome? If you and I allow fear to keep us from seizing an opportunity when it comes our way, then that is nobody’s fault but our own. Instead, we can trust that when the Lord brings us an opportunity, He will give us what we need to move towards. But we have to get out of the boat.
Allow me to take you to a story you may have heard as a youngster.
Jesus Walks on Water
22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning[a] Jesus came toward them, walking on water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![b]”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on water.”
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong[c] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
Matthew 14:22-33, The New Living Translation
As people of faith, we need to acknowledge the Lord’s presence even in scary times. If we don’t, things will get worse.
Fifth, when we give in to fear, we give up control; we step away from the steering wheel, which could be deadly. You see—the Lord has given us life and choices. While He will guide us, He will not do the work for us. When we are ruled by fear, we abdicate our responsibility. It is not a good thing. You are the only one responsible for your life, no one else. At the end of this race, you and I will give an account. I want to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:23 NLT
Sixth, fear stifles personal growth. There seems to be a universal principle in nature: You are either getting better—ripening, or you are ripe and ready to meet your full potential, or you are rotting.
So, let me ask you a question. Are you ripening, ready to pick, or rotting on the vine?
Today, you have a choice. You can choose to stay stuck, or you can choose to move forward.
So, what do we do with fear? We name it and face it. We take courageous steps to manage it.
As much as I hate to admit it, COVID-19 is going to be around for a while. While I absolutely refuse to fear it, I will respect what it can do. As a result, I will choose to do what I can do to care for myself and lower the risk for others by washing my hands, watching my personal space, wearing a mask, and limiting my movement.
With the alarming resurgence of the past couple of weeks, I go back to the quote by Tom Hanks, “There is a darkness on the edge of town, and it’s killing people, so let’s pull together and defeat it.”
I hope that you will experience 2 Timothy 1:7 in a fresh way.
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, craven and clinging, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and love and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”