From Panic to Peace

You’re probably sick of hearing/ reading this but we really are living in a time like no other. Many people are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, feeling isolated and alone. It’s important to find something that gives you hope. My personal source of hope and peace has never changed, and His name is Jesus.

I’m not going to lie and say I’ve been at peace all through this season. I was at a very weird place emotionally and mentally when it all began. I was on my compulsory year abroad in Spain as part of my degree at Strathclyde University. It was already a challenging experience of having to adapt to a new environment, new culture and new routine. The pandemic then added another layer of stress to my life there. It was a surreal experience to be going through something that none of my friends were experiencing yet. I felt isolated when no one reacted to me talking about it, some didn’t even want to hear about it.

On top of living in a country where everything started way earlier than it did in the UK, I was also sharing a flat with a girl from Wuhan. Yes, the place where the pandemic started. I was getting daily updates about how it was evolving there, the lockdown, how it was affecting young, healthy people; which UK residents seemed to have realised a couple of weeks ago.

I don’t want this post to be all gloomy and dark, the way our current times may seem sometimes.

Although I experienced higher levels of anxiety during my last week of Spain than I probably ever have in my life, I am now at peace. I am not prone to anxiety in general, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that some people are. It is also important to point out that it’s ok to be a Christian and to have mental health struggles. Our God is a healer and no struggle is too big to overcome, but as they say, it’s ok to know Jesus and have a therapist.

I am no mental health expert, but I can say that going to counselling in late 2018 was an eye-opening experience. I realised how much my mental state could change if I took control of my own thoughts. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” I knew that it was time to dig deep, find the core beliefs I had about myself that weren’t right, and allow God to renew my mind. Whenever I find myself falling back to my old thinking patterns, I remind myself of that verse.

Whatever we face in life, having Scripture to turn to can be life-giving. In this season, whenever I feel overwhelmed by the news or the statistics online, I go back to read Psalm 91. It talks about God’s protection over people who believe him. Protection from illnesses, pandemics and any calamity. A week after coming back to the UK from Spain I became ill. As my fever rose and I could barely walk to the bathroom, not once did I feel scared for myself. I know that God will never leave me nor forsake me. It was probably the most rapidly changing illness I’ve ever experienced, with high fever lasting only a day, and a stuffy nose only lasting two days (I think we all know those usually take a week to pass, no matter what you do). I have peace in my life because I have Jesus.

This is a season to grow in your faith, to get closer to your friends, as most of us now have more time to catch up and talk. If you are struggling – there are lots of people who’d love to talk to you. We are all coping with this differently and it’s ok to need to talk to someone. And if you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed, there is peace and reassurance in God’s word. What verse or passage do you turn to?

Written by Abigailė Tamošauskaitė