I find myself having the time to come face to face with my deepest thoughts and fears while watching the coronavirus spread all over the world and come closer and closer to my door. It’s no longer far away; it’s here at any place, at any time.
Even though my outward life hasn’t drastically changed, my inward life is being forced to grow by having to acknowledge that I am still afraid—afraid of death, afraid of the possibility of losing someone I love.
Just facing and admitting this for myself is difficult because in our American culture, it’s very easy to distract ourselves for the most part. If you’re rich, you’re trying to stay rich or get richer. If you’re poor, you’re trying to get rich and successful. Either way, if there is some kind of goal or place to achieve, we can distract ourselves from actually living in the moment and facing the reality that death comes for us all.
What does this mean for us mentally and emotionally? Why is death scary? There are a number of reasons, I think. We don’t know what comes after, although we may have our own personal beliefs. We are afraid to lose someone we care about who adds to our lives. And most of all, death makes us feel our vulnerability when we work so hard to feel invincible.
It seems like throughout our whole lives, we are programmed to believe that once we reach a certain level of success, we will achieve some kind of lasting meaning—something that will bring permanence to ourselves. But does it? Can it?
Maybe there is something worse than the coronavirus—a virus of fear. Maybe there is something worse than dying a physical death over the course of a few days or weeks. Maybe it’s worse to die in my soul and have it be eaten away, piece by piece, by fear—day after day, month after month, until there is nothing left of me that can still live and enjoy the time I have with the people I love.
Isn’t living under the fear and threat of our demise a kind of torture? Isn’t that what we are living with right now? Isn’t that what is constantly on our minds, night and day?
Yes! It is all of that and more. But what if this impending doom makes us more honest with ourselves? What if we can finally see that fear is not something to be ashamed of? It’s not weakness or being pathetic. It’s called being real with ourselves so that we can at least not bear the burden of guilt for hiding our true feelings.
The reality of the coronavirus and the looming possibility of death being on every person’s hand or door handle is a sobering fact that I can’t avoid. I am forced to confront the fears that are stuffed down into my soul, pull them out, look at them, and then realize that they are supposed to be there.
And that’s where freedom lies. The saying “The truth will set you free” is accurate. The more truth we can see and admit to ourselves with no judgment, the stronger we will be to handle whatever comes.
Even though we don’t want to admit fear because it may seem like a sign of weakness, being honest enough to admit it is actually great strength and bravery.
The more we can be true to ourselves with what we think and feel, the more we don’t have to be afraid of fear. We can embrace it as part of us and, at the very least—or actually, the very best— have peace with who we are, which is the greatest treasure, no matter what we face.