The Writing Life

How to Calm the Raging Torrent

The last few weeks have been strange and unsettling as we hang in the interval between what has happened and what might happen. We worry about how closely the virus will come to us and the people we love. We do what we can — wash our hands and keep our distance — but that doesn’t calm the anxiety and fear boiling just below the surface. 

The coping mechanisms we’ve used over the years are off the table. We can’t meet a friend for a cup of coffee or a drink. We can’t go to the gym to workout. Or head to the mall for retail therapy. Or take a trip. There is nowhere to hide from our emotions. 

It’s scary because we’ve invested a lot into not having to deal with ourselves. Whenever things are difficult, we look for something to ease the pain or distract us. But what if we used this time to embrace where we are and the emotions we feel? What if we learn to sit with discomfort and uncertainty? 

It’s not easy, especially when we can feel the anxiety coursing through our bodies like a raging river. We do whatever we can to feel safe and secure. We want to be in control. 

But I’ll let you in on a secret — we’re not in control, even when we think we are. 

So what if we ride out the torrent, trusting that we’re not in this alone. 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.

Isaiah 43:2 (ESV)

The discomfort and unrest aren’t going to kill us. We can trust God, even in chaos, to see us through this. 

Worrying isn’t going to change the trajectory of the virus or the effect it will have on the world as we know it. We can, however, use our energy to create a sense of calm all around us. Here are some ways to get started:

  • Start the day in prayer or mediation. 
  • Limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching the news.
  • Do one thing each day that gives you a sense of normalcy.
  • Get outside, even if it’s only to get the mail.
  • Connect with friends and family through video conferencing.

And most importantly, do what you need to do to stay healthy.

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