Every year, my church puts together an advent devotional booklet filled with devotionals written by church members. The pastor asked me to write one this year with the overarching theme of “Fear Not.” I wasn’t just afraid. I was terrified.
It was laughable for me to think that I, with my mental health struggles, could write something about not having fear when I fight against it every day. Then I thought about the overall themes of advent. Hope. Joy. Peace. Love. Christ. Hope jumped out at me, and I was reminded of a rather dark moment during the pandemic lockdown.
625 sqft. That is what my world consisted of during quarantine. 625 sqft, a dining table workstation, and two cats. No family. No friends. Just me, myself, and I.
It was an introvert’s paradise! It was everything I thought I had always wanted. Then my dream turned into a living nightmare.
Having no human contact outside of a Zoom call was a blessing in the beginning. I could pick and choose whether I wanted to engage with anyone. If a video call was too peoplely, I could just opt out for the day. No explanation needed. No risk of hurting anyone. Slowly, that little bit of interaction became all that I had. That is when my thoughts started taking a turn for the worst.
625 sqft started to feel more like 6.25. Everything became cold and dark. That blessed reprieve from human interaction started to drive me deeper and deeper into myself until I started questioning my own validity. My own purpose. I was alone and isolated in a way that I had never imagined I could be.
Every day got a little bit harder. Just mustering the energy to pull myself out of bed felt like one of the trials of Hercules. The resounding thought that “this was it” played over and over again in my mind. I was going to live and die alone. My 625 sqft of paradise had become like a tomb. There was nobody there but me. Nobody to make sure I was alright. I was completely and utterly alone.
Then a voice in the back of my mind reached through the fog and reminded me of something I had almost forgotten.
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8
As I lay on my couch, tears rolling down my face, a tiny spark of hope welled up inside my chest. I imagined the Father’s loving arms around me as he whispered reassurances in my ear. I was never truly alone. Nor would I be. He had never left my side, and no power on this earth would ever take him from me.