Sixteen days ago, I tested positive for Covid-19. I realize the experience I will describe to you in a minute is not the worst case of COVID ever. Many have had it much worse than I. But I’m pretty sure mine wasn’t the mildest case either. Thankfully, each day is getting a bit better, and I’m out of quarantine now.
It’s strange. isn’t it, that we humans think we know what something feels like, until we experience it firsthand. Most of the time, unless we’ve walked through something, we don’t understand it very well. We take guesses, but often don’t “get it.” COVID is no different. Prior to my fight with it, when someone told me they had the virus and the symptoms were severe, I felt compassion for them. But I really didn’t understand what they were facing.
Well . . . while in the middle of my own struggle, several things became very clear to me:
COVID is an isolating sickness
Upon receiving news of the positive test, an automatic two-week isolation begins. You are cut off from personal contact with those you love the most. And the lonely journey starts. Isolation has the uncanny capacity to bend your thinking. To magnify fear and pain. I’m an introvert, but I need people to be whole. So, you grit your teeth and tell yourself the end of two weeks will get here soon. In the past when sick, people could visit, pray with you, hold your hand. The isolation of COVID is just a strange and unique phenomenon.
COVID is an intrusive force
Days 2-7, every part of my body hurt. The bottom of my feet, the top of my head, and everything in-between . . . just hurt. And when the fever would surge, the pain was exacerbated. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt sicker as an adult. The intruding force of COVID seemed to simply take over and do whatever it wanted to me.
COVID is an insidious force
What I really wasn’t ready for was the incredible mental and emotional struggle that can come with this disease. Negative thoughts wanted to rule the day, and often they did. In some of these dark moments, I just couldn’t find the strength to fight back. Thoughts like – “You’ll never get through this.” “Your life is over.” “You’re going to die” – attacked viciously. It made me wonder if the virus goes after a person’s neurotransmitters, synapses, brain chemistry etc. at the same time it strikes the other parts of the body. The physical stress of COVID is enough alone. The mental stress added to it, well . . .
The prayers, support, encouragement, and love of my wife, kids, my siblings, and close friends kept me moving forward. In my bible reading yesterday, I read this in Philippians 4: “It was good of you to share my troubles.” And that is exactly what these wonderful people in my life did.
You know, at my worst, I didn’t need to hear a political position. (Still don’t). I didn’t need to hear opinions like “this thing is just like a bad flu!” I heard that one a few times while I was sick, and it felt marginalizing, like this sickness is no big deal. Well, it was a big deal to me, and it is to many others. I didn’t need to hear two sides arguing and not listening to each other.
Here’s what I needed (and received thankfully): dedicated, consistent prayer . . . words of encouragement . . . and perspective from those who love me the most to help me see God’s perspective in all of this.
And it makes me wonder: Isn’t this where the church should shine . . . in moments of national crisis? Instead of posturing, politicizing, demanding our rights; what about praying and pleading with God to remove this plague from our country? What about praying—with fervor and concern—for those suffering with the virus to recover? What about asking God to give divine wisdom to our medical professionals to help them figure the virus out? Instead of hubris and condescension, what about more humility and compassion?
Dear friends, I’m not an expert on COVID. I just have an experience. And I want that experience to be instructive for me moving forward. To shape my heart, thinking, and behavior so I look more like Jesus in moments of crisis and less like John. To become a better person for having gone through a battle. And I hope my struggle in some small way will help you to do the same.
Rooting and praying for you to be well,