As we face the uncertainty of life with and after COVID-19, many people are experiencing anxiety, depression, PTSD, high stress, fear, anger, substance use problems, etc. There has often been a misconception that if you are a Christian, then you should not experience fear or any other emotion that contradicts your faith in God. However, I would like to dispel that myth. This myth has plagued many of our communities for generations, forcing us to view our natural propensity to feel certain emotions, especially during trying times, as 'crazy' or as if 'we're trippin'. This view has been and continues to be problematic because it supports the stigma connected to mental illness, which says, "There's something wrong with you if you become emotional, show, and/or communicate how you feel." No, it is the complete opposite! Something becomes wrong with you when you don't communicate your feelings and continue to suppress your feelings and emotions about the things that have hurt you. We are human beings first, so it is our innate, immediate reaction to have an emotional response to life circumstances. That response begins in infancy. Think about when a baby first feels a cold wipe on their bottom when they're being changed, they cry because they don't like the way it feels or, consider when a baby is hungry, he/she cries to alert someone that something is wrong. The baby's only way of communicating his/her needs is through the expression of his/her emotions. However, depending on the environment that the baby enters into, that child will soon learn if it will be acceptable to continue to communicate their emotions and feelings outwardly or, if it is safer to hold everything in. COVID-19 has forced many people to reveal feelings and emotions that they have been able to hide and suppress over the years through being workaholics, partying, being social butterflies, engaging in several activities, etc. Nevertheless, people are being forced to grapple with the terror of finally disclosing how they really feel, which for many, is fear. Last I checked on CNN there were over 140,000 people who have died from the coronavirus, which included: women, men, children, young, old, middle-aged, and the elderly. No one has been exempted from this pandemic. And as it seems, the only thing as of now that can help us are God, masks, and social distancing. Even as numbers are steadily climbing in deaths, people are being beckoned back to work and school. It is imperative that we all understand that communicating our feelings/emotions, needs, wants, and desires are so important right now. Isolation, fear of death, the actual loss of a loved one to COVID-19, or for any reason at this time, can cause someone to feel as if they are having a mental breakdown. Fear is a real feeling and an adequate response to the reality of our existence right now. But, hold on!! There is hope. Let me remind you of the words of my God:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”—Isaiah 41:10
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:6-7
“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”—John 14:27
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”—2 Timothy 1:7
I will honestly admit to you that I, also have had my fears during this time. I am a Christian who loves God and his son, my savior, Jesus Christ. Yet and still, I have felt fear, worry, and anxiety. However, I have communicated my feelings to my own support team, which includes my own counselor (Every great counselor, needs a counselor!) and I have used my spirituality and faith to remind me of the power of God in my life. I have meditated on the very scriptures I have listed above, as well as others. I engage in bible study and still attend virtual church on Sundays. But, I also use the coping skills that I have learned over the years and the skills that I teach to my clients to assist me in managing my fears, anxiety, etc. You do not have to choose between your spirituality and counseling. You should incorporate it all into your toolbox of mental health support. So yes, you can have faith and fear, but it’s important that you begin to take the necessary steps in learning how to communicate your true feelings and emotions and allow your faith to lead you in the healing process.