By now, many of you may have seen the inspiring post by the Founder of Engage Art, Bill Bantz. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out here https://engageart.org/a-letter-from-bill-bantz-to-the-engage-art-community/. He outlines ways we can stay connected to God and Scripture that can help keep us grounded during the uncertainty and ever-changing events of COVID-19.

Pandemic-Driven Panic

I’ve found that although I’ve been a Christian most of my life, I’m still struggling among the COVID-19 craze, not to mention the sadness for those who have been affected and lost loved ones. If I’ve been a Christian this long, shouldn’t I be grounded by now-—no fears in the face of trouble? The Bible tells us–not if, but when trials come (John 16:33) to take heart because Jesus has overcome this world! That is great news! So why was I among those who wondered if there would be enough food, enough water, enough hand sanitizer, enough toilet paper (I’m sure having 5 kids had something to do with it!)! There was a bigger issue at hand.

Then I had a revelation, much of my panic had nothing to do with what is currently happening, but with what has already happened—what I have already experienced. This pandemic, although not the same, began to feel quite similar to 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina hit my city.

In 2020, why were my feelings from 2005 welling up? First the news coverage. As we watched the far off Hurricane form and grow far before it hit New Orleans, I felt anxiety. Much like we watched the virus spread in Wuhan, China through Italy and France, and directly toward us. This virus has in some ways felt like a forming hurricane, barrelling toward my country, my state and eventually my city. Most people alive today have not experienced a pandemic, and up until 2005, I’d never experienced a Hurricane quite like Katrina.

Past Impacting The Present

Secondly, as the first coronavirus case was reported in my state, my thoughts began swirling “Would we have to quarantine, and exactly what would a quarantine look like?” Immediately my thoughts went back to the dark house, no electricity, no generator to help, and literally a couple of cans of tuna to share between 3 people while Katrina’s winds and rain slammed the city. Of course, a virus won’t take out the lights, but would it mean I couldn’t get out and provide food for my children? I would joke with my friends that, “What if it comes down to me going in the back yard and having to catch a raccoon and cook it for dinner?” It was only a half-joke. It could become a reality, right?!? I panicked inside.

It wasn’t until I had a couple of these experiences that I realized how much my past was triggering, crippling, and impacting my response to the present. Here are some things that helped:

3 Things To Help Your Panicked Feelings

Don’t be afraid to speak with a professional. It was only in an online therapy session that I realized my fears from Katrina were playing a central role in my current COVID-19 reality. I made the same “raccoon joke” in that session and realized that small things, the words I use, and the “jokes” matter. All our experiences, no matter how insignificant we think they are, are worth talking about. We may find something deeper. Here is a list of US online counselors https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/online-counseling. Most insurances are covering video chat counseling sessions now. If you are already seeing a counselor, ask if they have moved to online sessions. Reach out to your child’s school counselor to also get your children any extra support they may need or set them up with their own online counseling sessions. Your counselor may even refer you to a doctor if you need additional help dealing with depression, anxiety, and any other issues. We all need help. Help just looks different for each person.

Delve into Scripture. Read Bible Verses About Worry: How To Cast Your Cares On Him In The Midst Of Trouble. Listen to music that adds to what you’ve just read, draw a piece of artwork to support what you’ve read, make a dance video, have your kids act out Scripture, let Scripture be the topic discussion at your dinner table. This gives time for each person to respond to the Scripture and also use feeling words. I love to use the feelings chart for adults Emotions wheel and kids Emotion Faces to assess where each family member stands emotionally, and we can talk about it if needed. Take cool ideas from this blog https://engageart.org/make-art-where-you-are-with-what-you-have/ and try to relate it to Scripture. Use the Engage Art App to stay encouraged in Scripture. 

Depend on friends, family, and community– Having reliable friends and family to talk with during stressful times is such a blessing. Although we can’t have physical community in the way we have known it, many people are using free online video conferencing programs to “see” each other, visit, and stay in touch with loved ones and friends. You can check out Zoom, Google Meet, Duo and other video chat platforms. Many churches are holding online worship services, Bible studies, and prayer groups. Even if you have not recently been part of a congregation, you can still connect in this way. Instructions are generally on church websites. It’s important to remember “community” is not gone, it just looks different for the time being. I also encourage you to go to the Engage Art App prayer section where you can guarantee someone is praying for you (and your loved ones) and with you.

So what’s your way of staying grounded in the midst of the COVID-19 “Hurricane”? Do you have additional Scriptures to share? Have you had helpful online therapy sessions, community video chats? Have you had past traumas, losses, and fears that may be affecting how you respond today? Please share. There is Hope even in the Hurricane. And it sure is nice to know we’re in this together.