By Anna Raab, M.A. Counseling, BCN

As I’m sitting here writing this article I am, like most of you, isolated and uncertain.

I am aware that this article will run in about 30 days, after the stay at home measures will likely be lessening, and we are slowly emerging back into a world that will be forever marked by suffering and loss.  Loss of life, loss of employment, loss of identity… it is not going to be easy.

I have considered deeply what to say… and the themes of love and fear keep circulating.

Fear is a gnawing foe at present.  Unknowns, uncertainty, insecurity… it’s all brewing.  In this pandemic fear is valid, it is normal, and it is real.

Sadly, however, fear can bring out the worst in people.  We hoard and we pit against each other looking for someone to blame or someone to shame. Social media demonstrates these fault lines of instability through an ever-increasing discord and divisiveness which is deeply troubling.

The fear is real, it is founded, and it is a normal human reaction to stress and uncertainty.  In our brain it is meant to keep us alive, yet it can bring out our most animalistic instincts, as I mentioned… less than human; less than kind.

So where will we be in 30 days?  Will we be better, or broken?  I personally fear the loss of life through mental illness or suicide could parallel the virus itself.  Fear and stress are mounting daily.

The message I long to share today, but will be no less pertinent in 30 days, is hold onto your humanity.

This virus has leveled the playing field.  Each of us is undeniably human at present.  So, what part of our humanity will arise?

The thing that makes us uniquely human is our ability to not respond to fear as an instinct but to rise above it as a response.  Do not react, respond.

Our ability to rise above fear I believe is founded in our ability to transcend to love instead.  In a fearful situation, we as humans can choose to love.  We can choose to lay our lives down for our friends.  We choose to stay home and stay safe as we rally those who cannot. We can choose to reach out instead of reach in.  We can choose to tune into friends in need financially, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  We can use this time to love and lend a hand.  We can be the stability we seek.

My prayer is that we emerge out of this time of stillness enlightened. May we be reminded of what we have that cannot be measured, as we are dealing with the loss of what can be measured being taken away.

What cannot be measured, what cannot be taken away is love.  And how beautiful is it that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

The poet Rumi said, “Love is the bridge between you and everything.” As we sit in isolation may we remember love is our highest good and may we grow together in spirit and not be torn apart.

In our fear, may we find that love is our human ability to rise above the storm.  If we grow in love, we will not have lost.

If you are struggling beyond the point of being able to choose your response, please reach out.  If you cannot find your footing in love, we are here, and so are many others who want to listen and be a hand.  Put yourself in the way of love.  Please don’t suffer alone.  Anxiety, Depression, Panic, and family strife will likely come to an all time high for many.  Let us find our strength in leaning in.  Let us transcend through love and leverage the best of our humanity in order to respond and not react.

Much love and concern from my family to yours.