By Dr. Sasha Shillcutt, Crosswalk.com
I am a doctor and a mother of four. I am on the frontlines, caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic as a cardiac anesthesiologist in a hospital.
As both a leader of a healthcare team and as a parent, I am facing many unknowns as we navigate the rapidly-changing response to the COVID-19 virus.
I assume you, like myself, are experiencing fear, anxiety, and perhaps grief during this time. As a medical professional and a believer in Jesus Christ, I am doing my best to educate people on what we know is true about COVID-19, and to encourage those in my community during this time.
As Christians, I think we bear a certain responsibility during this pandemic. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. We are not to instill fear or incite panic, but to calmly and confidently walk in His authority, loving and comforting those He puts in our path.
We have a responsibility to be alert and educated, to be prepared, and to be examples for our loved ones.
As the virus continues to spread, let’s do our part to make sure we’re spreading truth and love, not fear and uncertainty. Here are some facts you can use to combat the fiction you encounter about COVID-19:
Myth #1: News and social media outlets are the best sources of information on COVID-19.
Reality: Doctors and local public health officials are the best sources of information and care the most about your wellbeing.
There is a lot of information coming out every day; so much good (and bad) information is available on social media and in the news.
But the best thing that you can do is to listen to the doctors and your local public health officials. Social media is full of armchair experts and well-meaning people who share articles from unreliable sources.
Things are rapidly changing. Your doctors know the most, and care the most about one singular thing: your personal health and wellbeing. If you have questions, call your clinic.
Myth #2: You should only practice social distancing if you’re exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or not feeling well.
Reality: Social distancing matters—for everyone.
As believers, we have a duty to care for “the least of these.” As a doctor, to me the “least of these” are the people most at risk: the sick, the immunocompromised, the elderly, the smallest in our care.
We can all do our part by staying home. This is especially important because of how it can take up to two weeks to show symptoms--meaning people can be spreading the virus without even knowing they have it. Staying home is how we will decrease the spread of the virus so that we don’t overwhelm our hospitals, and so that hospital staff can care for the sickest.
Please, please, please: let’s do our part and stay home.
Myth #3: It’s time to stockpile—every man for himself.
Reality: We’re all in this together--take care of your neighbors and elderly by checking in.
Let’s remember them during this time.
It is crucial for us not to expose them to COVID-19, which means that checking in is best done from a 6-foot minimum distance.
Healthy adults may be asymptomatic and unknown carriers of the virus. We can drop off groceries on the porches of those who can’t (and shouldn’t!) get out.
We can call, text, or video chat with them to check in. We can truly live the scripture James 1:27.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Daisy-Daisy
Myth #4: It’s up to us to bring an end to this pandemic.
Reality: God is still in control, and prayer can and will make a difference.
Pray without ceasing. Especially for your local healthcare workers, who are putting their lives at risk every day.
Many of them have families and children at home who they are worried about exposing the virus to and are struggling to balance work and home life right now with their own wellbeing.
Pray for all of those who are working on the frontlines—from grocery store clerks to pharmacists to law enforcement and other public servants.
There are so many people continuing to go to work every day in order to care for the sick and keep those of us who are well safe.
Pray for those who are battling the virus, that they would be healed. Pray for our nation’s leaders and other government officials, that they would be wise in their decision-making.
Pray for those who have lost a loved one to this virus, that they would be comforted by God’s love and given peace.
Pray for our nation—for the heart and salvation of every single American.
Myth #5: Modern medicine and social distancing are our only hopes for ending the pandemic
Reality: Our hope is in Christ, who equips those of us in medicine to help our communities.
As a Christian and a physician, I am confident in the knowledge that we have in medicine, and the faith we have in Christ.
These are the things that help maintain my mental wellbeing and get me through each day.
I know we are well trained to care for the rapidly evolving illness, and I have faith knowing that we will survive this.
We have a peace that passes understanding, and right now, when there are so many things we cannot predict, He is a great comfort.
Myth #6: My family and I are young and healthy, so we won’t be affected by COVID-19.
Reality: This crisis will affect all of us.
The reality is, if we don’t already, most of us will know someone in our community who will lose their life to this illness.
We’ll know someone who’s lost a job, lost their business; who can’t afford to feed their family. There will be many hurting and experiencing loss.
As Christians, we should seek out those who are hurting and be prepared to comfort them. We have an abundance of love to give to our friends and family, to strangers even—and grace to comfort those hurting emotionally or financially during these times.
Myth #7: Staying on social media 24/7 is the best way to stay up to date on what’s happening with COVID-19.
Reality: Sometimes it’s better to put the phone down.
Social media, while it can be used for good, can also be a breeding ground of false truths and fear.
Let’s use it for good—for sharing Scripture, encouraging notes, factual information from solid sources.
And if scrolling through your feed is causing more anxiety than peace, put the phone down. Go outside. Open your Bible. Spend time with your Creator, who is the God of all comfort.
As we go through this trying time, we can all do our part. We can stick to the facts, listen to our doctors and experts, maintain peace, and be an example to our neighbors and friends.
We can stay home, do our best to support our local businesses that may be hurting, and check in to make sure those in our community feel supported and cared for.
We can be the examples to the world during this time. We can be lights in this darkness by remaining calm, being educated, and staying home.
As a doctor, I can tell you the two things that I focus on are 1) my hope in Christ, and 2) the kindness that I see every day in my fellow healthcare workers and neighbors.
Despite what you may be hearing in the news and on social media, there are good, kind people in this world taking care of each other.
So many of my friends continue to pray for me, and it helps me stay focused, and thus safe, during the day when I am at work.
Thank you, from this physician. Keep up the good fight. Be encouraged and take heart: He is good, all the time.
Dr. Sasha Shillcutt is a renowned cardiac anesthesiologist, TedX Speaker, and CEO of Brave Enough, where she leads over 11,000 women physicians on living connected and courageous lives. Dr. Shillcutt’s newest book for women, Between Grit and Grace: The Art of Being Feminine and Formidable, is available nationwide. To find more perspective and insight during the COVID-19 pandemic, follow her on Instagram @becomebraveenough and check out her website at www.becomebraveenough.com.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/JESHOOTS.COM