On a recent episode of “Your Hope- Filled Perspective Podcast” we discussed how the second weapon God has given us, according to 2 Timothy 1:7, is His perfect love. When we realize how much God loves us, it helps us say no to worry, fear, and anxiety, and yes to God’s peace.
The world has been turned upside down by the Coronavirus pandemic. No one has been unaffected in some way. We have all had to adjust and adapt to an adjusted normal. Yet, because of social distancing, our normal efforts to show love have had to be altered. But if we’re willing to be creative, there are other ways to show love during times of crisis.
Many years ago, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote the book, “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.” A few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Chapman, and then he was kind enough to endorse my first boo, “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression”. In his book, Dr. Chapman discussed the five basic ways we express and receive love, with the notion that if we understood how we both express and receive love, it will help our relationship with those we love and understand them better. According to Dr. Chapman, the 5 different types of love languages are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
This pandemic has caused both stress levels and anxiety to sky-rocket. It’s so easy to slip into the negative perspective thinking of all the things we have to do (i.e. we have to stay home from work, we have to eat in, we have to learn how to navigate our child’s online learning experience, etc.). But a simple shift from an “I have to” perspective to an “I get to” mindset can help lessen anxiety, and help us experience greater peace. Furthermore, we can look at this experience as one during which we “get to” show more love for others.
Be creative with these 5 ways to show love to others during a crisis
While some of the methods we previously used to express love (i.e. a hug) may now be impossible with social distancing, there are some other ways to show love during times of crisis even though we are spending less time in the company of other:
1. Words of Affirmation
This is a time when stress and anxiety are paramount. It’s a time when more than ever people need to hear messages like “You’re doing a good job” or “We’ll get through this together.” We may not be able to be physically present to affirm our loved ones, but we can use technology to our advantage. A short phone call might mean the world to someone pent up and lonely. Or send a text or instant message just to say you’re thinking about someone. To “be with” another even when we’re told to keep our distance can be achieved through a skype or zoom call to help us feel physically present. Now that life is more complicated, it’s the perfect time to express gratitude for the little actions that mean so much from cooking dinner to standing in line to buy essentials.
2. Acts of Service
This virus has impacted everyone to some degree. Emotions are running high. More people are suffering from loneliness to severe anxiety or panic. There is no better time for us to do for others. Little gestures can mean the most when life is anything but simple. When you head out to the store, check in with friends, neighbors and family members to see if they need anything that you can acquire while you are out. Our spouses may be working more hours, or trying to figure out how to work from home. That’s a great opportunity to let them sleep in on the weekend, keep the house quiet, and tidy up so they wake to a calm environment. Too far away to physically do something for someone? Consider sending a written out prayer, just for them, that they can read and reread when the need for support resurfaces.
3. Receiving Gifts
Who doesn’t like receiving a gift? When life seems hard, and the future uncertain, little gestures may mean even more than usual. Do you know that special something that just makes a loved one smile? A special kind of coffee or baked good, maybe? Why not pick it up when you’re out and about getting other essentials. Wish you could do something for someone who doesn’t live nearby? Fortunately most stores are willing to deliver when you shop online. A friend of mine is approaching the one year anniversary of her husband’s death. Social distancing makes it impossible to spend time with her physically, so I ordered flowers to be delivered on the anniversary date of his passing to let her know she isn’t alone and he isn’t forgotten.
4. Quality Time
Everyone’s schedule is a bit scrambled right now, trying to accomplish work and school from remote places. But the flip side of that is that many of our friends and family are spending more time at home with the lack of extracurricular events to steal their presence and time. Remember those things you’ve wished you could do but previously always said you didn’t have time? Maybe now is the perfect time. Each evening my family now enjoys nightly card games, sing alongs, and new jigsaw puzzles after dinner. Want to engage in something more mindful together? How about memorizing scripture together? Social distancing and quarantines mean we can’t be in the physical presence of many we love. For them, how about offering the gift of our time in more frequent phone calls, facetime on our phone, zoom and Skype calls? Let’s take advantage of technology to increase the opportunity to spend time with each other, even when a social distance mandate is involved.
5. Physical Touch
This may be one of the most difficult forms of love to show and receive when we are told to keep our distance from each other. If you’re still able to be in the same room as another, how about a smile or a wink? Just something little that says, “I love you.” For those we can’t physically be with, consider texting or messaging a photo as a reminder of our love and remote presence. Perhaps send a piece of clothing that reminds them of us, to physically have with them for comfort. If you can chat via computer via skype or zoom, even putting your hand up to the screen for them to touch helps alleviate the perceived distance this has created.
The ramifications of this virus have reminded many of us that those we love and value can never be taken for granted. While we might be challenged and unable to express our love via our usual means, this gives us the opportunity to be creative in our gestures. Perhaps when the social distancing mandate has been removed, we will have a greater sense of appreciation for those we’ve missed, and be more ready and willing to display a greater degree of love.
What other ways do you “get to” show love to others including your husband, wife, family and friends?
Resource to Break Anxiety’s Grip
No question, we have a lot to worry about. Children, jobs, homes, health, finances, and more. The solution isn’t to rid ourselves of the sources of anxiety – as if we could. Instead, we need to recognize that anxiety originates from a spiritual influence and that we can fight back using the God-given weapons of power, love, and a sound mind.
We can discover true peace in an age of anxiety.
In Breaking Anxiety’s Grip, Dr. Michelle Bengtson shares her own story of emerging from the battle with anxiety as well as the stories of others. She reminds you of your identity as a follower of Christ and of the peace he promises you in spite of everything.
She provides tools to cope with the crushing emotional burden of anxiety now and, more importantly, shows you how to reclaim God’s peace as a way of life so that you can break anxiety’s grip.
Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com, Books-A-Million, and other fine book retailers.
Click here to learn more: Breaking Anxiety’s Grip.