A Peace that Passes Understanding

Lead

Over the past week and a half, our campus community has shifted significantly in response to the threat of COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus. Our sense of normalcy has been disrupted as a result of the pivot to extended Spring Break and online classes. We cannot turn on the news, check social media, or even go to the grocery store without being reminded of the difficult and uncertain times in which we are living. It is very normal to experience anxiety about the future during such an unprecedented season.  
   
Anxiety is fear based on possible future outcomes. Our minds create multiple “what if” scenarios. As we play out these scenarios in our minds, we experience fear as a self-protective emotional response. The problem is that the threat we are reacting to is not present. For example, we may worry about getting sick even though we feel fine, or we may worry about the financial impact of jobs closing for extended periods of time. These threats, while possible, are not happening at the moment. As a result, we may overreact in order to protect ourselves from things that may not even happen. We see this overreaction in bare grocery store aisles where toilet paper used to be.  
   
So, instead of “what if?” we need to ask ourselves “what now?" Certainly, we need to wash our hands, give each other space, and stay home as much as we can. Concern for ourselves and others is not the same as anxiety and panic. It is also important not to ignore our feelings of anxiety. Ignoring how we feel does not make it disappear. Instead, God tells us to take our thoughts captive. This requires the willingness to critically examine what we are telling ourselves. When we look at our anxious thoughts through the lens of God’s sovereignty over us and His love for us, we can more easily distinguish between what is true and what is not.  
   
God invites us to bring our anxiety to Him. He promises in Philippians 4 to give us peace that passes understanding and to guard our hearts and minds in Christ. I find that during this season, I must bring my anxiety to God multiple times a day. This is a good thing! Constant communion with the source of Truth is a wonderful way to combat the lies that our fear wants to tell us.  
   
There are also some very practical ways of dealing with anxiety on a physical level. It is important for everyone to continue to stay active as much as you can. Go on a walk or exercise in your home. Try to eat healthy meals. Keep a normal sleep schedule. Continue to connect with other people, even if it is simply through a phone call or text message. Each of these things will help you stay balanced emotionally.  
   
For many of us, anxiety can be an overwhelming experience. Even though we are isolated from others physically, we can use technology in order to stay connected and seek help. The Counseling Center is still available for any student who is struggling right now. All sessions are being conducted via video conferencing, so whether you are on or off-campus, counseling services are still available to you. We also have a very gifted counselor from Taiwan, Hsin-Chun Wu, who has set aside time specifically for international students who need help during this difficult time. 

Remember that even during these trying times, God is still in control. He still loves all of us. He knows the future, and nothing that is happening now is a surprise to Him. Continue to take care of yourself and each other. Bring your anxiety to God, and ask for help when you need it.

If you need someone to talk to, please reach out to the Counseling Center at counselingcenter@dbu.edu, or call us at 214-333-5288.  You can also sign up for counseling at counselingcenter.dbu.edu

Written by Dr. Jordan Davis

Dr. Jordan Davis is the Director of Counseling and Spiritual Care at Dallas Baptist University.

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