Love is a light that never dwelleth in a heart possessed by fear. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Four Valleys, p. 58)
When referring to the Báb, he mentioned that “love had cast out fear”. (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 22)
Everywhere in the world, humanity is going through the trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In trauma, people typically react through fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. Let’s look at what each of these looks like and how love helps get us through.
Fight: we attempt to gain control through outbursts of irritation, anger or bitterness
Flight: we attempt escape through addictions (drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, sex, work, food, shopping etc) or suicide
Freeze: we fall into hopeless, helpless despair leading to depression
Fawn: we focus our attention on people pleasing, approval seeking and compulsive caretaking
While each of these are understandable, none of them are particularly helpful. The things that help me are remembering that:
- This pandemic is part of the disintegration of the old-world order, in order to build up something much better. To the extent that I can focus on applying the blueprint given to us by Bahá’u’lláh, I can turn away from all the things I can’t control.
- The purpose of my life is to know and worship God. To the extent that I can develop and strengthen this relationship, laying all my affairs in His hands, I can trust what’s happening.
- The purpose of my life is to also develop the virtues I’ll need in the next world. To the extent that I can focus on applying the virtues that I need in any given day, I can improve the quality of my life. I find the ones I need the most often are faith and trust in God’s plan; detachment from my own response to lockdowns, stay at home orders, economic hardship, marriage and parenting problems, vaccine shortages and so on; patience with the process; and gratitude that we’re in a pandemic and not a world war, among others.
So let’s turn to love as a solution. To love ourselves when we’re in fight mode, we can focus on what we can control and take action. To help others we can get lots of physical exercise to dissipate the anger.
To love ourselves when we’re in flight mode, we can immerse ourselves in the Bahá’í Writings and the Dawnbreakers and biographies of early Bahá’í heros and heroines. To love others we can make time to nurture friendships and forgive them for not being who we want them to be.
To love ourselves when we’re in freeze mode, we can get out through coming into the present by focusing on the breath, moving our bodies through exercise and/or finding ways to be of service. To love others we can respond to invitations and get out of the house.
To love ourselves when we’re in fawn mode, we can put self-care first and spend time developing a loving relationship with ourselves. To love others we can recognize how manipulative we are when we take on roles that aren’t ours.
Seeing practical ways to overcome fear through love, I am grateful!
What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation? I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!
If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Fear into Faith: Overcoming Anxiety