Each passing day I find myself becoming more comfortable living in an uncomfortable place. I started this period of quarantine committed to not letting myself accept a life of isolation. Unfortunately, this commitment is getting harder to maintain. The temptation to stay isolated is easy to allow, especially when you are alone with nothing but the voices in your own head to keep you company. When I first entered quarantine, I made an effort to reach out to friends everyday, and whenever there was a virtual social gathering, I was the first person to sign in. I probably talked to several different people each day, and was astonished because these virtual platforms made it easy to connect with others. I now find myself tired and declining phone calls instead of initiating them.
Today I reached my ultimate limit and found myself experiencing feelings of fear. I am quite familiar with fear and know it takes many forms. This particular form was one I had not encountered in a long time; it was a fear I truly believed I had conquered. This morning I actually had a reason to leave my apartment. I needed to get blood work done in New Jersey in preparation for my annual doctor’s appointment. Instead of waking up to a feeling of excitement, I woke up in a state of anxiety. I dragged my feet getting ready and kept trying to invent excuses to get out of making the trip. The fear was coming from the unknown elements that I faced in the long drive to New Jersey. What’s funny is that the trip to New Jersey is not that long, but with the new pandemic circumstances, it seemed a lot longer. I have Type I diabetes, and I check my blood sugar level every morning. Today the number was a bit lower than I would have liked. This is when my old fears came flooding back. The fear that my blood sugars would go dangerously low when I am away from my apartment is the fear I allowed to dictate my life when I was first diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 18. After my initial diagnosis, it took a long time for my blood sugars to stabilize. According to my doctors, this was normal considering how long I had lived with my diabetes undiagnosed. Regulating my sugar levels was a battle and terrifying at times. I did not understand how my body would respond to the amount of carbs I ingested. This resulted in sometimes overestimating my insulin dose. When someone has too much insulin in his or her body, blood sugars drop, which can lead to uncomfortable and even life-threatening symptoms. Throughout this learning process, I did encounter some challenging low blood sugars–the ones that I remember most all occurred when I was away from my home. One happened during a college class; I became dizzy and my vision blurred. I also got overheated with feelings comparable to a hot flash. Going through one of these low blood sugar episodes is enough to make anyone never want to leave home again.
In response, I self-imposed my own quarantine. I was sick and I felt justified in removing myself from society. The reasons I quarantined myself were similar to those putting everyone in quarantine now. I isolated myself because I no longer had the strength to deal with society’s expectations. “People just wouldn’t understand,” I told myself. In my isolation, I built up strength and eventually was able to leave my home and re-enter society, but it was a long and difficult process. I put myself and my family through a great deal of pain.
As I drove to my doctor’s office in New Jersey, I reflected back on this old fear that I was experiencing once again. Here I was becoming comfortable in this state of being apart from the world. The Lord created us to be in communion with one another, but it is so easy to run away from that. As human beings, we gravitate to remaining in darkness because that darkness hides our deficiencies. As this pandemic continues, I wonder what it will be like re-entering society when it is finally over. I hear many people say, “I can’t wait for things to go back to normal.” There are moments when I am so eager to do normal things–going to a mall, seeing a movie in a theatre, getting a haircut! Then fear enters in and I start thinking about the reality of the situation. There is so much unknown about the future, and I quickly retreat to the sanctuary of the safety of my apartment.
The truth is that the world has changed, and the old idea of “normal” is no longer the same. We really have no idea what life will be like when we are able to leave our homes in freedom again. Nothing is certain and we have nothing material to rely on. More than ever, we need to turn our focus to God alone because He is the only constant that will never change. I could easily fall back on my old ways and what I relied on when I first quarantined myself while dealing with diabetes, but I must remember I am not the person I was then. Through the grace of God, my heart has been transformed. When first managing diabetes, I sought solitude in the comforts of this world–my home, my room, even my family. The problem with these sources of comfort is that they can all change. At this time, I know I will keep encountering fear and struggle when the time comes to transition to another way of living, but I will not seek assurance from the things of this world. I will seek the “blessed assurance” of the Lord, my God and Savior