Updated: Mar 31, 2020
At the beginning of the year there was a real buzz in the air. A sense of excitement and anticipation for the future. 2020 represented renewed hope and endless possibilities for a lot of people. Here we are the end of the first quarter of the year, and the anticipation and hope seems to have been replaced with a somber air of desperation. Would have ever have thought that what would mark the beginning of a new decade would be a contagion?
COVID 19 hysteria has taken control of the world, it has affected more than our physical well being, and seems to be contaminating our very souls. If you have watched the movie Contagion there are some eerie similarities. Fear is an insidious thing. By its very nature, it demands our full attention, and the longer we look it in the eyes, the more it wields control over us, until it is all we see, all we experience, and we are drowning in the panic of its consuming presence.
What makes it worse, is that despair and hopelessness can so easily be passed on from person to person. Fear clogs our vision and consumes our thoughts, and by our words and actions we spread the panic like a wildfire throughout society. Psychology calls this emotional contagion, which is described by Wiki as follows:
What is emotional contagion?
Emotional contagion is the phenomenon of having one person's emotions and related behaviors directly trigger similar emotions and behaviors in other people. Emotions can be shared across individuals in many different ways both implicitly or explicitly. For instance, conscious reasoning, analysis and imagination have all been found to contribute to the phenomenon.
The behaviour has been found in humans, other primates, and dogs. One view developed by Elaine Hatfield, et al., is that this can be done through automatic mimicry and synchronization of one's expressions, vocalizations, postures and movements with those of another person.When people unconsciously mirror their companions' expressions of emotion, they come to feel reflections of those companions' emotions.
The more people are contaminated by hopelessness, the worse the atmosphere becomes. It starts with an individual, and becomes a societal thing, perpetuating and re-perpetuating the cycle.
So how do we stop the spread of this emotional contagion?
Firstly, we have to manage our own internal climate by recognizing the emotions that we are experiencing. You may be feeling a sense of dread and may be staggering under the weight of the lack of your ability to control your own outcomes.
You probably also feel completely alone in all of this because fear has a propensity to isolate. It may also be that other areas of your life are out of control, and the present climate of fear is only perpetuating how you already feel, it is the proverbial cherry on top of the already squished cake.
Whatever it is you are battling with, the feeling of lack of control can be debilitating. When we feel helpless, we try to control other areas of our lives, and in some cases, even other people.
How do you deal with fear and control?
The Simple answer is surrender. Simply give it all up… Breath it out, and let it go. We were never designed to carry the weight of all of this on our own, which is why depression and anxiety are so toxic to our bodies and can contribute to sickness and disease. But how do we just surrender all our worries and concerns to the 'universe' in the midst of this emotional contagion? How do we let it go, if we don’t believe that it will be ok if we do so? The short answer is, we can't, and we won't. We will inevitably pick up all of our burdens again and continue to allow them to eat us up from the inside out.
The ability to surrender is directly related to our ability to trust the external force that we surrender to. Positive thinking will only take us so far, believing in an indifferent God, or an unconcerned universe does not result in the ability to completely surrender our burdens.
The God that the Bible describes is not unconcerned about our wellbeing. He is a loving Heavenly Father who created us to live in relationship with him. He assures us time and time again that He is in control, and that he loves us deeply. We can trust him completely.
1 Peter 5:7-9: Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.
Matthew 11:28-30 “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.
Can I live in perfect peace in the midst of these turbulent situations?
What if you were able to live in perfect peace in the midst of every turbulent situation that I have described? What if, you could find hope again even though absolutely nothing changes around you? This is what the Word of God promises us. It does not say that there will not be trouble, or that we will not face situations that are impossible for us to overcome.
But it does give us guidelines and tools to live in this failing world and our desperate circumstances and still thrive emotionally, physically and spiritually. This may seem impossible, but it is 100% possible to live a purposeful and fulfilled life even though your world is going to the proverbial hell in a handbasket....
You may feel completely burnt out from expending all your energy on trying to change your situation, and trying to control your outer world, while your inner world is in complete turmoil. One of the greatest lies is that we have any semblance of control. The only true control we have is over our own choices, decisions and feelings. We live life outside - in, when it should be inside - out.
What does this inside-out life look like?
From the outside, it looks like the person whose identity is so secure in God's love, that whatever words are spoken over them have no power because they know who they are, and who their creator is. It looks like the person who walks in perfect peace despite their outside circumstances completely crumbling. It looks like complete surrender and total trust.
But on the inside, it looks like someone who meditates on scriptures that tells them who they are in Christ, who reads the Psalms and understands their Father's love and protection. Who worships as they work and finds fulfillment in the mundane because their hearts are focused on the Lord. Inside - out living is a life focused on renewing the mind on what the word of God tells us about who we are, and who he is so we can trust him completely. It is quietening the senses and the soul in worship and surrendering all to Jesus.
Surrender is a lifestyle of walking in the presence of the one who calms our souls and gives us peace, of walking in the shelter of the one who protects us and gives us shelter in the storms of life.
1 When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai,
you are hidden in the strength of God Most High.
2 He’s the hope that holds me and the Stronghold to shelter me,
the only God for me, and my great confidence.
3 He will rescue you from every hidden trap of the enemy,
and he will protect you from false accusation
and any deadly curse.
4 His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you.
You can run under his covering of majesty and hide.
His arms of faithfulness are a shield keep