I’ve written before about having faith in God rather than living your life in fear. It’s something that is often on my mind but especially so over the past year.
A few days ago, a friend posted this photograph with the caption,
Covid 19 is not your enemy, fear is. You will not die one day sooner or one day later than God has planned for you. But he did not create you to live in fear. The Bible says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
This truly spoke to me because this is how our family has chosen to live over the past year.
When Covid first hit, all three of our daughters came home for the three-month lockdown. It was the first time our oldest daughter, Rebecca, had been home for more than a weekend in over three years. Rather than cower in fear, we embraced this beautiful gift of togetherness. It was a time of great joy, one that Rebecca recalled at Thanksgiving when listing her blessings from the past year.
And boy, did we have blessings! There was a surprise birthday party for me (just as the pandemic was becoming known), a law school graduation for Rebecca, camping trips with family and friends, the start of Katie’s senior year of college, Morgan’s White Coat Ceremony for nursing, pregnancy announcements from friends and family, two weddings (one elopement and Rebecca and Anthony’s wedding weekend bash), and even travel (some involving airplanes).
None of that would have happened if we had lived in fear. There are precautions and guidelines for a reason. Do I like wearing masks? No, I hate it, especially after having had one on continuously from 6:30 yesterday morning until 9:30 last night across three time zones. But we did what we needed to do and went on with our lives, and we continue to do so.
I know so many who have not left home in over a year out of fear. I know many who avoided family and avoided doing things they love out of fear. I know people who still refuse to leave home even after having been vaccinated.
Look, I had Covid, and I had it pretty bad. I’m not saying it isn’t a thing. However, I will not live in fear. Living in fear, isolating ourselves from others, and refusing to engage in life can be more dangerous than the virus itself. A recent study shows that 4 in 10 adults has suffered from depression or anxiety due to Covid. 56% of young adults (ages 18-24) are suffering from depression or emotional distress. Those numbers are astronomically higher than before the pandemic. Substance abuse is up and suicide is up. Even children as young as elementary school age are suffering from depression and anxiety.
I know it’s not easy to trust that there is a God who will guide us through this. It is not easy to believe that prayer and faith will make things better, but believe me, we have witnessed this time and time again over the course of this past year.
Let me share a story with you. Many years ago, Ken worked for the state as a cabinet appointee. It was a tumultuous time with political back-stabbing and lies told, and life as we knew it nearly destroyed. However, there was a light that shone brightly during that time, and her name was Lydia. Lydia was Ken’s administrative assistant, and she was a whirlwind of activity, outpacing Ken at every step, keeping him in line and on time. She never touched a computer and refused to have a cell phone. She was as old school as they came, and we all fell in with her. To my girls, Lydia and Bob were a third set of grandparents, and to them, my girls became the grandchildren they never had. Bob and Lydia adopted us as their family, and even after Ken resigned from his position, we remained close. Over the years, we all met for dinner several times a year halfway between their Baltimore home and our Eastern Shore home. Lydia invited us to her house to learn how to make traditional Ukrainian Christmas cookies, and Bob and Lydia came here for graduation parties. One of our favorite memories was taking them crabbing. Oh, the smiles on their faces and their cries of joy each time they successfully moved a crab from the trotline to the catch box was delightful to say the least!
When Rebecca and Anthony got married this past September, we were thrilled that Bob and Lydia responded yes to the wedding. They told us that nothing in the world could keep them from attending Rebecca’s wedding. They had watched her grow up and would not let fear stand in the way of sharing that special day with her or with us. Not only did they attend, Lydia upstaged the bride with her moves on the dance floor!
The newlyweds, Rebeccca and Anthony, moved into a rental house just blocks away from Bob and Lydia. Rebecca began visiting them, dropping off crabs that Ken caught, and spending time visiting with her new neighbors.
Shortly before Christmas, we received a phone call from our mutual friend, Brock. Lydia’s husband, Bob, had suffered a massive heart attack and passed away in Lydia’s arms. It was shocking and upsetting news to say the least. A few days later, the seven of us (including my mother-in-law) met up at Rebecca’s house and drove to the funeral home to say a final goodbye to the love of Lydia’s life. Lydia took my hands in hers and looked me in the eyes over our masks and said, “Rebecca’s wedding was the highlight of our year. We were so happy that we could be there.” It was hard not to break down in tears, but we all stayed strong, giving our love and support to one of the strongest, most vibrant women we know.
I don’t have many regrets about the past year, and I bet Lydia, a faith-filled, church-going woman doesn’t either. She might be afraid of technology, but she is not afraid of living. Even now, she and her sister travel to see their family and try to go about living their lives as best they can amidst the rules and regulations that we all must live by these days.
When I grow up, I hope to face every day with as much joy and enthusiasm as Lydia, never letting fear stop me from living my best life.
Be smart. Be safe. Look out for yourself and others. But don’t forget to live your life. You never know what day will be your last.
“Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”— Isaiah 41:10
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020).