Pandemic Anxiety as a Millennial
As a millennial who happens to identify as Christian, the internet (especially the gram) says I’m supposed to be super confident (some would say entitled), super independent, SUPER reliant on God as my source of security and strength, and therefore, super at peace all the time. And those things sound like a really good head start in the race against pandemic anxiety, right? Ha.
And I’m not under any delusions–2020 was far easier for me than for some. I am a person who holds an enormous amount of straight, white, cisgender privilege in a world engaged in a war against inequality of all sorts. I’ve been able to stay employed. I’ve had access to healthcare. I’ve been able to stay safe and indoors for the majority of the pandemic, and I have awesome friends who got bored and sewed up a whole bunch of free masks for me. I even have a car, a HUGE privilege in a time where public transportation increases everyone’s risk of transmission. I have supportive friends and family. In comparison to some other folks’ stories, my 2020 was a dream.
I can only tell my story, though, and while I’m conscious of the many ways in which the past year could have been exponentially worse for me, it’s also totally legitimate for me to acknowledge how it’s been hard. Speaking of hard things, you should try to sit down and write out a list of the ways in which 2020 and the pandemic have caused you anxiety… my hand was seriously cramping by the end! It would be easier to make a list of ways 2020 has been awesome… but that’s a whole different post.
The Big Three
You don’t want to read my whole list of 2020 anxieties–I promise you. So I’ve narrowed it down to a handful that I think are pretty universal. I call them THE BIG THREE.
These are huge topics unto themselves, and we only have so much energy for blog-reading. So for today, we’ll just dive into #1!
The Insane Paradox
“The Insane Paradox” encompasses everything that went wrong in the past year and my struggle to reconcile that with the Christian belief commonly expressed as “Don’t worry! God is still on His throne!” That means I should trust that this chapter of life actually fits into my story, my country’s story, and my world’s story. And if I believe what I say I do, that means I believe there’s a new and better chapter of those stories on the horizon. So it’s all good, right? Nope. In the face of a global pandemic and national political unrest, it has often been hard (really hard) for me to believe that any benevolent, sovereign deity could be letting all of this happen to us. Which brings me to another saying I’ve been hearing a whooooooole lot: “The world is on fire!”
Now… I believe both of these common 2020 (now 2021) epithets. I do. And it’s hard sometimes to hold both of those truths at once. But like good ole Whitman said, “I contain multitudes,” and that includes the ability to feel angry and upset about the state of the world at the same time as I am hopeful and taking action toward its improvement.
Left on their own, BOTH of these statements are dangerous. They’re both incredibly dismissive of something really important: you. Yes, the world is on fire (quite literally in some cases), but that doesn’t mean throw up your hands in despair and accept defeat. Yes, God is still sovereign, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore all the terrible things going on and wait for a deus ex machina solution… The Insane Paradox means that you’re still here, despite the fires, and you’ve been given tools powerful enough to enact the changes you want to see in the world. Whether you believe in a sovereign God or not, you have hands, feet, a voice, and your own sphere of influence… use them to put out these fires!
Fires Burn, But They CAN Be Extinguished
Have there been days when I couldn’t get off my couch because I didn’t see the point of trying to fix all the problems I see? Yes. Have there been nights that I’m so anxious that I can’t sleep, so instead I think of all the horrible things that could happen in 2021 and beyond? Yes. That’s the trauma of 2020. But then there are days when I’m able to put my feet on the floor, take a deep breath, and acknowledge the paradox.
The world is on fire, and God is sovereign. Acknowledging both those truths gives me the power to start accepting my role in building a better future.
Thanks for letting me be vulnerable with you! I hope connecting with my experiences is helpful in processing your own. It’s totally normal to have doubts and confusion, but the truth that God is Sovereign is no small thing. Here is a resource that will help you gain greater understanding about God’s love for you and His ability to care for you… and as always HopeCoaches are available 7 days a week if you need to chat.
Stay safe, and come back soon for more on THE BIG THREE.
– Cara Beth
Is waiting out the coronavirus pandemic freaking you out? Read more about the challenges of 2020 (now 2021) as Cara Beth talks about her experience with “The Neverending Wait” during the pandemic.
About the Author…
Cara Beth Heath is a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago, Illinois. She loves words and all the different ways they can come together to illuminate the world for us. All she wants to do is use her God-given word skills to bring light into dark places, and when she’s not doing that, she’s probably wrapped up in a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate watching a movie or playing Dungeons & Dragons… God loves nerds too!
Photo by Vlada Karpovich