The Emotional Pandemic You Face

take your anxiety to God

Most of us have never had to go through a worldwide pandemic that has caused such a magnitude of change to our country and to our daily lives. Millions of people have had their lives uprooted and changed by the physical effects of illness, death, or loss of a job or business. They may be unable to put food on the table, put gas in the car, or make mortgage or rent payments.

In addition to the direct impact of the virus, you may be going through an emotional crisis of a broken marriage, a severed relationship, the loss of a child to disease, or a teen addicted to drugs.

The residual effect of any of these things can become an emotional pandemic of grief, loneliness, anger, depression, despair, and even hopelessness.

It’s easy to lose perspective and a sense of self when you’ve been blindsided by a major life change or crisis, isn’t it? It’s unplanned and unwanted. You are unprepared to handle the unknown that seems to consume your thoughts and your daily life.

I know. When Bill, my husband of 45 years died of cancer, I was left feeling numb, shocked, and devastated. My life, and everything in it, changed from being complete to being crushed. I felt an overwhelming sense of loss and grief that I could not have anticipated. Then, when my daughter went through a divorce, I grieved over the loss of an intact family life for my four grandchildren.

If you’ve experienced a life-altering change or loss in your life, you know how hard it is to pick up the pieces of your shattered world and try to put life back together again. Those pieces will not fit together in the same way. Life as you know it may never be the same again.

With a severed and uprooted life comes change, with change comes loss, and with loss comes a myriad of emotions.

Right now, as you live through the ripple effects of this pandemic on you and your family, you may be experiencing some of those same feelings and emotions I had when my life was uprooted by death and divorce. Like me, I sense that many of you may be grieving over the life-altering changes and losses this virus has brought to your lives. You may even feel angry with circumstances beyond your control, alone without family or friends to come alongside you, depressed that there seems to be no end in sight, or feeling hopeless about getting back on your feet again financially.

How well you cope with these unfathomable changes – where you find the strength and the faith to start over and the perseverance to move forward with your life – has a tremendous effect on how well you recover.

Going through the emotional roller coaster of this pandemic may leave you feeling like you’ve hit rock bottom. You can make the choice to either stay there or see God as the rock and foundation on which to rebuild your life. It may seem impossible now to put the pieces of your life back together again, but it can be done with God’s help. It might look different than you imagined, but you can experience wholeness again. Life can, and will, regain a normal rhythm. Don’t let the impact of this unwanted change cause permanent damage to your life, your marriage, your family, or any relationships. Use this experience to grow stronger and more resilient, yet tender and more compassionate. Use this time to become more grateful for what you do have and less preoccupied with what you don’t have. Seek to discover a deep need in your soul to cling to God and trust Him for each day.

Yes, I hear you. You think you can’t. You can.

You think you are alone. You aren’t.

You wonder if your faith will stand this test. It will.

You want answers and explanations. God gives you His promises to rely on.

You want the assurance of knowing what tomorrow will bring. God assures you of His faithfulness in all things.

You want to reason with God about everything. God wants you to rest in Him.

God’s grace is sufficient, my friends. May you live each day with a peace that is beyond understanding and a hope that is anchored in Christ. Here are some of my favorite scriptures that bring me comfort during this emotional pandemic. May they meet you at your point of need…

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage…Psalm 27:14

I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Susan Miller
Susan Miller Author of After the Boxes are Unpacked and the accompanying study Founder of Just Moved Ministry

What to do when you are on lockdown

social distancing

“Social distancing” is a new term in my world. Don’t get too close, don’t touch, and definitely don’t hug. These are words that are quite the opposite behavior in my relationships with people I know and love.

This is a time in our nation, and in our world, that we could never have imagined living in a pandemic of this magnitude.

A time when words like isolation, quarantine, lockdown, and shelter in place are all too familiar and real. We have transitioned from busy schedules, full calendars and meals on the run, to an open schedule, an empty calendar, and eating every meal at home. We have transitioned from fearless to fearful, from constantly being on the go to a sudden stop, and from having what we need available and accessible to waiting and going without it.

The reality of the physical, emotional, and economic effects of the Coronavirus has hit our nation like a ton of bricks. The impact of the blow has been devastating to countless people and has become a crucial change point in our daily lives.

It occurred to me that most of us have experienced some kind of isolation or lockdown—physical, emotional, or economic—in our lifetime.

It could be a physical lockdown from an illness, a disease, or abuse that is debilitating—crippling your body, mind, and spirit. You are so helpless to do anything about it. Your physical condition dictates your day and you feel helpless. You can’t run, you can’t escape—you have no control over what’s happening to you. You are powerless in the lockdown.

It could be an emotional lockdown from the pain of loss, a broken relationship, fear of the unknown, or shame brought on by circumstances. For those of you who have been there, you know what it’s like. You shut yourself off from everything and everyone, and simply close down your feelings and emotions. You find safety in the lockdown.

It could be an economic lockdown from the loss of a job, bankruptcy, or an economic situation that is beyond your control. Your last paycheck is stretched to the max, you’ve tapped into your savings and it’s almost gone. You don’t know how you’ll provide for your family, pay the bills, or even buy groceries. You are trapped in the lockdown.

And now, today—with this pandemic virus living among us—we are experiencing all three lockdowns: we feel powerless and helpless, we find safety in being isolated, and we feel trapped with our circumstances. So, you ask, what do you do when you’re in this lockdown situation?

When I first realized the severity of this pandemic, I began to ask myself the hard questions:

What do I do now?

How do I stay calm?

How will I get through this?

What will happen next?

The answers surfaced from within very quickly.

hand washing

Practically speaking…

Just Do It!

We can do our part by taking the precautionary and pro-active guidelines seriously. It will take all of us to do this, not just a few of us.

Stay connected with one another.

Social interaction is key to help counteract depression, loneliness, and anxiety. I know we can’t get together with family and friends, but we can hold hands and stick together through the internet, social media, Facetime, phone calls, texts and emails. Be creative with how you practice social distancing.

It’s okay to not be okay.

There will be days you will feel like you just can’t get it together emotionally. I have days I find myself weepy over the smallest thing I see or hear, or days when I want to do anything but what I have to do. Give yourself permission to have an emotional “off day.” Just don’t get in an ongoing slump. Take care of yourself. Connect with someone and share how you feel.

Celebrate small victories.

Perhaps you cleaned out your closet, deleted all the pictures you didn’t want on your phone, organized your kitchen drawers, or caught up with filing a pile of papers. Yay you! I celebrate by taking a break and having a bowl of popcorn!

Do the next thing.

I get overwhelmed like you do sometimes. I step back from a long mental or written list, take a deep breath, and simply do the next thing that is a priority for today. What can be done tomorrow or next week? Don’t try to do it all in one day if you are feeling overwhelmed, because then you’ll get nothing done.

Stick to a routine as best you can.

I am intentional about exercising every day. I “walk and wave” or ride my bike. Part of my routine is to call and check in with different friends who are living alone.

Make your bed first thing each morning.

This small thing can start your day off with a feeling of accomplishment. (And, you won’t be tempted to crawl back in the bed for the morning!)

No matter how helpless you might feel, let your common sense kick in.

Do the right thing even though it might be something you don’t want to do! We have to make some hard choices—stay at home, don’t stop by a friend’s house for a visit, stretch the paycheck when you’ve been laid off, and saying “no” to things we’ve always said “yes” to.

Don’t do or say anything you will regret later.

Remember, we are all feeling some kind of stress and our emotions are fragile. Many times in the heat of the moment I can do or say something that I regret later. Actions and words will be remembered. When you respond calmly—instead of with anger or frustration—you will be less likely to have regrets. God is on center stage, reflected in you and through you by your actions and your words.

Be wise. Don’t foolishly put yourself in harm’s way, but don’t hesitate to cautiously help someone in need.

Oh my goodness, yes! When you go to the grocery store, pick up something a friend needs and drop it off at her front door. Start a group text with friends and gather their creative tips and suggestions for ways to reach out to others. To meet a big need, I’m going to donate blood to the Red Cross.

And, above all…

Go back to what you already know, what you’ve learned, and what you’ve been taught about our sovereign, almighty, unchanging God.  And if you don’t know Him, now is the time.

Run to God—You have nowhere to go, so run with all your might to Him. If you think about it, there is really nowhere you can go that is safer than in His presence. He alone is your refuge. Lean in to Him and dwell in Him. Depend on God to give you the strength to endure your circumstances. You might be looking for the answers in all the wrong places and God has been there right beside you all along, just waiting for you to come to Him.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Pray—Pray faithfully and without ceasing for the virus to pass. Pray for protection, inner peace, and a calm spirit. Pray for the leaders of our nation, our health care workers, first responders, those who have lost their jobs, and countless others who are on the front lines of this war against an invisible enemy every day. Pray that God will use you for His glory, and that you might be a light in a dark situation.
pray without ceasing…1Thessalonians 5:17
The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16

Renew your mind—In times such as this, recall God’s word and rest in His promises. Repeat scriptures of God’s hope, encouragement, faithfulness, comfort, and protection out loud. Saturate your mind and fill your heart with the remembrance of His word.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…Romans 12:2

Trust God—Every day we face the unknown. Trust Him with your whole heart with the things you can’t control in your life. If you feel afraid and lonely, be assured that God will be with you, His presence will surround you in all circumstances, regardless of what the outcome might be.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Hebrews 3:5

Be grateful—No matter what, there is always something, or someone, to be grateful for. Recount your blessings. Focus on being grateful every day. It’s hard to be negative when you are thanking God. When we all get through this, don’t forget to thank God first before you do anything else.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Thy name…Psalm 92:1

It’s important to remember that a crisis has a beginning, a middle, and an end. We will get through a time such as this. There will be life after the Coronavirus. This too shall pass. We will stand together and wait together, united in faith, hope, and prayer, to face and fight this pandemic.

And while we are waiting, my friends, wait well and love well.

We will come out of this wiser, stronger, more resilient, kind, and caring. We will learn a lot about ourselves and a lot about others. We will learn we can live with less, rather than more. We will be reminded that family and friends are more important than all our possessions. We will be reminded how quickly circumstances can consume our focus and how easy it is to lose our focus on God. We will be reminded to cling to God and His word, to pray, to trust Him, and to be grateful.

But as for me, I will sing each morning about your power and mercy. For you have been my high tower of refuge, a place of safety in the day of my distress. Psalm 59:16 TLB

Susan Miller