“He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.” Matthew 8:23–26
I have always been a worrier. Big decisions, new situations, circumstances out of my control - worry, worry, worry. Fear and anxiety sometimes take hold of my life, leaving me feeling helpless or worse, hopeless. To no surprise, COVID-19 has shaken me quite a bit.
During quarantine, Blake and I have watched the movie, Cast Away, numerous times. If you are unfamiliar with the movie, here is the rundown: Chuck Noland is a FedEx systems engineer. While on a business trip, the FedEx plane crashes into the ocean. Chuck is the lone survivor and spends four years on an island. The movie follows Chuck’s efforts to survive, as well as his transition back home. Go watch it!
While I have not just survived a plane crash nor am I stranded on an island, I find myself relating to Chuck. Since the start of COVID, there are days where it feels we are living in an entirely different world. In His goodness, the Lord can speak to us using any means, including movie night! Here are some insights, which have helped me address my fears and anxiety:
Send an S.O.S.: It’s important to note that fear is a natural emotion. When we experience fear, our fight or flight mode kicks in. No shame, I am 100% a flight person. Similarly, Chuck’s first move is to scream for help! There is power in naming our fears and anxieties, as well as calling out any lies from the devil. It is good and healthy to cry out to God for assistance in the form of prayer. “I sought the Lord, and he answered me, delivered me from all my fears...This poor one cried out and the Lord heard, and from all his distress he saved him.” Psalm 34: 5,7
Find your Wilson: We have a need for companionship and community. While Chuck is on the island, he fashions himself a friend, Wilson, from a volleyball. When anxiety is creeping in, it can be tempting to isolate yourself. However, we cannot nor are we meant to do this alone. Find your Wilson and reach out for support. We can also find great friends in the saints! “A friend is a friend at all times, and a brother is born for the time of adversity.” Proverbs 17: 17
Make fire: Oh how I love this scene! Chuck has figured out how to build fire and proceeds to shout and sing in celebration. During times of trial, we can choose to remain stuck in our fear or splendor in the small delights. In choosing the good, we are given strength to continue on and hope is restored. Combat anxiety by enjoying a hobby, reading the Bible, or receiving the Sacraments. “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Watch the tide: Is it possible that what causes us fear is actually a gift? How does our fear make us blind to these gifts? One day, the tide washes in a large piece of plastic. Initially, Chuck is fearful of the sound caused by the waves hitting the plastic and approaches it with a spear. After observing the piece of plastic for a while, he realizes this is the sail he has been waiting for. We must ask God to open our eyes to these gifts In recognizing the fruits of these trials, it will diminish our sense of fear and anxiety. The tide will bring us what we need; God will always bring us what we need. “My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Addressing fear and anxiety takes time and effort. We are called to entrust all our fears to the Lord. However, we are also called to action! St. Augustine said, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” Through prayer, our next steps can become more clear.
It is my hope that we will soon get off this island and COVID will end. However, we will inevitably experience other difficulties resulting in anxiety. Let us always seek the Lord and find peace in His presence. Let our trials be the door that lead us closer to Him. Above all, let us rejoice in the Lord who will cast away all our fears.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next.