"Do not worry over things that generate preoccupation, and anxiety. One thing is necessary: To lift up your Spirit and Love God."
-St. Padre Pio
It was the middle of March and I was sitting at my desk at work. I received a text that all of the schools in Connecticut were closing. A couple hours later I opened an email from the superintendent stating that they were closing for two weeks because of a virus. I heard about covid-19, but didn't think it was a big deal at the time? I thought it was something like the flu. Why all the hype? Soon after that text, it seemed as if the whole world was shutting down. The local news said the governor was closing gyms, department stores, non essential businesses, and even churches. It was hard to believe what was going on. I felt like I was in a weird science fiction movie. Was this really happening? Even, the St. Patrick's dinner was cancelled!! Two weeks turned into three, then four, then five and eventually it was three and half months until we could come out of quarantine. Even after that time, life still has not returned to what we would call "normal." A year later and we are still wearing masks, people are still afraid to be around others (even family members and friends), and concerts and movie theaters are still not open.
Who would of thought that the whole world would change? When the virus hit a year ago, it was Lent and the churches were soon closed. There was hope that we would gather for Easter Mass but that never came. Even though we were not able to attend mass, I was very grateful that the churches remained open for private prayer. So, I made it a point to go everyday to be with Jesus. A day after everything closed, I made a trip to Walgreens and then stopped by church. When I walked in, it was somewhat dark with light from the candles, the alter and the daylight that shined through the stained glass windows. When I approached the pew to sit down, Jesus whispered to me "Donna, do not be afraid." I was at peace. I felt calm and knew that everything was going to be alright. Ever since that day in church, I never had any fear about contracting the virus. He gave me the strength and courage to get through this pandemic. What He says is true, and I don't need to worry, nor be afraid. Neither do you.
Overcoming fear is easier said then done. Anxiety and fear can take a hold of a person. It can be paralyzing where a person can be afraid to leave the house, be around people and not want to take part in what they used to do. Anxiety can affect the mind and the body. Our emotional and spiritual health affects our physical health. Anxiety comes from a lack of trust. As children, we are helpless and can only rely on our caregivers (usually mom and dad) to meet our needs. Anxiety develops because he/she is unsure of what is going to happen when our emotional needs are not met. It's the fear of the unknown. If mom or dad was anxious about the worId, we are going to grow up thinking that is the way to handle situations. It is a learned behavior, not genetic. But there is hope. The one we can always put our trust in, is God. He is the perfect parent who meets all of our needs. All we need to do is to give everything to Him. We can give Him our fear, our anxieties, our pain, our worries in life. If we lift up our spirits and love Him, we can see a difference in our lives. The words "Fear not" is mentioned 365 times in the Bible. It says in Phillipians 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
A year later, we now have a vaccine that will help fight against this awful sickness. This is great news and soon it will be available for everyone. This is hope that things will go back to normal. It also may help with those with anxiety. It may alleviate the worry and the fear that some people have. But, what will happen if some other tragedy occurs? Will you look to outside sources for comfort? Or will you turn to the one who made you? In the book of Isiah 41:10 it says " Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." In the book of Isiah, many of the people in Jerusalem put their trust in other gods, in idols that did not give them comfort. This is a pattern that we see all throughout the Bible. We can even see it today in our world. Many of us look for help in medication, self help or natural remedies. This can help temporarily, but it is not long lasting. It is not eternal.
In Conclusion: Next time you feel worried and anxious, take out your Bible and read it, study it and live it. Talk to God in prayer. You can talk with him, just like you talk with your spouse, your friend or brother/sister. He is always listening and He wants to help you with your problems. Just tell Him: Lord, please take this, because I can't! Turn off the news. That is toxic if you watch it 24/7. What we watch is what we consume. If we watch something of a positive nature, then we will feel better and happier. Same is true if you watch something fearful, then you are going to have anxiety and worry. God gave us our senses for joy. It is up to you on how you want to use them. Remember God is in love with you and wants to help you. Loving Him back will cast out all fear and worry.
About the Author: Donna L. Marotto is a Faith Formation Coordinator/Youth Minister, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Secular Franciscan. Her blog comes out on the 3rd Monday of every month. Next Month's blog will be on Divine Mercy. If you would like her to speak at your event, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org