By Pastor Sara Spohr
Do not be afraid — I am with you!
I am your God — let nothing terrify you!
I will make you strong and help you;
I will protect you and save you.
Isaiah 41:10 (Good News Translation)
In the pages of the Bible we hear the same straightforward message hundreds of times: “do not be afraid.” This is certainly good news. Sometimes though, fear and uncertainty can simply overwhelm me. In those moments, I wonder if my fear actually just exposes a lack of faith and trust in God. There is no shortage of things to fear these days, a global pandemic, civil unrest, systemic racism, a contentious (to put it mildly) upcoming election … of course that list could go on and on.
I heard a young dad vulnerably express his fears in an interview this week. He said, “Maybe there’ll be another spike, and my business will get shut down even further. And there’s been nights laying up at night in tears and late nights with the two of us yelling and screaming at each other or yelling at the kids or just staring at the wall because we don’t know.” (NPR interview - Matt Simonds, Albuquerque NM)
We don’t know. If the last year has given us any kind of certainty, it is that what’s coming next is uncertain. So how do we, as people of faith, live with courage and hope during these uncertain times? Can we really be “unafraid” as a child of God?
This fall at Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church we are digging into questions like this in our worship series: Unafraid: Hope in Uncertain Times. Jesus faces difficult questions, system-wide injustices, fierce critics, and a successful attack on his very life. We’ll look to Jesus’ wisdom, action, and promises in the face of these fears. We’ll consider these current moments in the life of our church, city, nation, and world. We’ll name and face this fear head on, and find the courage and hope to move forward in faith together.
I am eager to worship with you, share the gospel together, and find renewed faith in the community of faith.
by Barb Tauferner, Parish Nurse and Director of Visitation
I don't just miss your smiles. I miss your hugs. For me, social distancing is one of the hardest parts of COVID-19. As a family member, friend, and nurse, being able to comfort others by holding their hand or sharing a hug has been an important and appreciated way to show that I care.
I know I'm not the only one who is feeling this loss.
This longing for human touch is called "skin hunger" and has an actual impact on us. Without regular human touch, like hugs, we’re likely running low on oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone that’s released when people snuggle or bond, and that promotes feelings of love and well-being. No wonder I'm feeling sad! My body is having a chemical response to my sudden and continued life experience that doesn’t allow for my usual quota of hugs.
So here's the conundrum: how do we safely increase our oxytocin levels in the middle of a pandemic when hand holding and hugging isn’t an option? I recently heard an expert recommend that watching hug videos (especially of children) or hugging yourself could help. I know this isn’t the same as getting a hug from a family member or friend, but even these "out of the box" hugs can increase our oxytocin level.
What else could we do? Share virtual hugs and kisses. When you’re wearing a mask and can't share a smile, focus on using the eyes to connect. Maybe wear a funny mask or add a paper or fabric smile to the outside of your mask. I bet you’ve already come up with other safe ways to connect. Won't you join me by doing what we can to have a positive impact on oxytocin levels? The world needs our help.
September is Suicide Prevention Month
Oxytocin levels aren't the only challenge during this time of COVID-19. The reality is that during this pandemic there’s been a significant increase in the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and in suicide levels. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts, contact your doctor. Or contact the following organizations for advice and resources: