‘Disconnection destroys us,’ said the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, in an online service yesterday, adding, ‘It leads to panic buying, to growing fear and to spiritual and emotional as well as physical isolation.’
Isolation is not natural for human beings – we are not designed for it. In times of crisis, such as we are experiencing with Covid-10, our instinct to group together is like a bunjee cord and straining against it creates tension in us. Yet here we are, millions of us, isolating ourselves to prevent the spread of the disease even from our families, while at the same time being bombarded with horrifying headlines. So it’s no surprise that many people are feeling anxious, while those already struggling with anxiety and depression are affected even more.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. There are things we can do, some seemingly simple, but with known, powerful effects. The clearest and best was written by King David, hundreds of years ago. He knew what it was to experience isolation, betrayal, persecution, attempted murder, and more. He wrote:
‘When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul,’ Psalm 94:19.
David remembered all that God had promised, all He had done, and all that He was. Here are some consolations to heal out souls –
- Remember the good things He has done for us. The Israelites put stones in the river Jordan as a memorial to the miraculous stopping of the river when they crossed. When we are anxious, we tend to forget the times God has intervened in our lives. It helps to write them down, and give God thanks for each one.
- Being grateful has a hugely therapeutic effect. There is so much we can be grateful for – for big and for little things. When we reflect, often the little things had as much impact as the big. Clinical studies have shown the physical as well as emotional effect of being grateful.
- Encouraging others. Make telephone calls, send emails, write FB or twitter posts. You can begin by saying, ‘I was just remembering when … (the person said or did something) and how much it meant to me.’ You will have your own memories and words. Find the little ways.
- Accepting help from others. We can be so used to being independent that we have unwittingly pulled up the drawbridge that lets people in to help. When someone phones to ask if there’s anything they can get you from the shops, say ‘yes’! Even if it’s only a bar of soap. (They might even be able to find toilet rolls!)
- Learn to spend a little time focusing on the small things. How the sun’s rays through the windows light up the pattern in the carpet, or a picture – or even if it’s only the dust, then the sunshine itself!
- Find the Scripture verses that are full of God’s promises to you. (Some references are given below.) The Bible tells us that these verses are ‘living and active.’ Write them out on post-it notes and stick them where you will see them during the day – and stop to read them.
- Finally – worship music. Music is known to be good for the brain, and worship music is good for our souls. Welsh pastor Selwyn Hughes, founder of Crusade for World Revival (CWR), believed that that in worship we enter into the presence of the Lord and His unity becomes our unity. He puts our fragmented, world-weary selves back together.