By Anna Raab, M.A. Counseling, BCN

A few months ago, I wrote an article called Transcending Fear.  The quarantine had just begun, unknowns, fears, and shutdowns were paralyzing to many.  In the article I wrote about how we would ultimately have two choices as to how to respond.  Would we be better or broken; would we transcend fear and build on our human ability to love, or would we give way to the animalistic instincts of fear, fight, or flight.

I had no idea when I wrote that what else we would soon face as a nation. I had no idea that not only would we potentially turn on each other out of fear and pressure of the unknown, but that the pandemic would become the perfect storm of pain which would rattle our country to its very core.

It’s as though we were ripe and ready in a hotbed of unknowns, stress, and isolation.  So that in that hot bed, embers started to surface, vigilance was riding high, infections were coming to the surface…and the worst came out in us as the gasoline of fear and strife turned embers into a raging forest fire of pain and traumatic responses.

And here we are.  A nation divided on so many levels.  Issues that have been in the healing process have been ripped open and I fear we have been set back decades as a nation who stands for and has fought so hard for equality.  The fear response in our brain is activated by our instinct for survival.

If you read the article I mentioned, you may remember I stated we will have the choice to respond like animals in fight or flight, or like humans bridging the gap with love. Again, as humans we have the unique ability to choose love even when we are afraid, because “perfect love casts out fear.”

I have seen exceptions, however.  On a local level and personal level for sure I have seen churches and local leaders rise up and organize overwhelming aid and help.  Victory Christian Center has mobilized well over a million bags of food for local families, no questions asked. They were able to have drive in services where people could still assemble together and had testimonies of people deciding not to end their lives because they drove by and were drawn to the life and love there.

In all this I have experienced joys as I watch leaders rise up in love, yet I have also cried many tears as I have watched trauma and emotional responses rip through our country like a tornado.  I have wept for our country and for the division and strife, and I have prayed and prayed for healing and restoration to come.

One thing I know we can all agree on and has the ability to center and to heal us, is that we NEED each other and CONNECTION and MUTUAL RESPECT is essential for us to weather this storm together and truly come through with the spirit of Americans.

The absolute worst thing we can do is hide behind the news, gossip, and social media as though behind the wheel of our own private car honking and yelling for others to get out of the way and heed to our exclusive perceptions and desires.  Wisdom comes through a multitude of counsel, and if we can come to a place of peace and resolve to listen and to learn from our pain and our mistakes we can still heal, in time, we can still be better.

Individually, stay connected.   Seek out the faces who bring you love and joy, even if its Face Time or Zoom.  Send pictures and videos to love ones.  Post positive and loving videos on social media to remind us that we are in this together and ultimately love and respect will be our banner of recovery.

I know in this time there are many who are suffering greatly from isolation, fear, panic, and sadness.  If you need help, tell someone!  Do not suffer alone, do not let darkness take over, get help, reach out.  We are here and so are the many people who love you… some you may not even know. You are NOT alone!  You are loved.