Protecting Our Whole Selves During Crisis

Woman looking at window

On 20Twenty lately many of our guests have revealed how the pandemic has been far more than a health issue. Lockdown, and everything that follows, is an assault on our whole selves – physical, emotional, and spiritual. As Christians, how can we defend ourselves, and protect others?

There’s no one better to explore the complex ways COVID-19 is impacting on us than adult, child and family psychiatrist Dr John Warlow. Creator of the Christian Wholeness Framework, his passion is bringing the whole Gospel to the whole person. In a wide-ranging conversation, Dr Warlow and Neil Johnson discussed how looking after your body, mind, heart, and spirit can help you remain resilient, and lift others up with you.

In 2 Corinthians 10:5 NKJV, Paul talks about “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”. Certainly, this year has given us plenty to think about, as we’ve fought to solve our practical problems and understand rapidly changing regulations.

But in Ephesians 6, Paul also talks about how we as Christians face a spiritual battle, and Dr Warlow says that’s what we’re dealing with now. “People with a battle for the heart, which is deeper than the mind, will be going through times of discouragement, times of confusion, times of aloneness and shame.”

So how do we “withstand the evil day”? Paul tells us to equip ourselves, and put on the armour of God. “It’s within our hands to be able to bring our whole lives, our social, our physical, our mind, our heart, the central part of our life, our spirit, and actually really be able to face these, and bring resilience and health and healing in all these areas.”

Even if you’re coping well, there may be others around you who aren’t. Though statistics are hard to gather, funeral directors are suggesting that suicide is on the rise. “It is the primary cause of death in a young male adult in Australia,” Dr Warlow said, “even more than road traffic accidents. So this is a real thing, and we’re hoping and praying that today, for yourself and your family, for anyone you know, that you’ll be able to help them.”

Dr John Warlow
Dr John Warlow

Dr Warlow believes men are particularly at risk because they are often less capable of reaching out, but women also face their own challenges, often managing households single-handed. He says we can learn a lot from the way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures value community. “But it’s those cultures when they’re alone, for example they’re here in Australia without much sense of community around them, then it’s going to hurt so much more.”

Measuring your feelings doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. Dr Warlow suggests a simple 0 to 10 scale, where 0 means feeling suicidal, and 10 means doing great. He acknowledges some of us will have good and bad days. “Those who are listening, where have you been at in the last two to four weeks on average? And then I’m going to ask you what’s been your best and what’s been your worst?”

“And I think if there’s been a real instability there, that makes it all the harder firstly. And lastly, watch the trend. Compare yourself now on that scale to where you think you could have been maybe pre-COVID. Are you going down, same level, or going up? Really important.”

Dr Warlow says that same scale can apply to people around you too. “Some of your kids, or your partner, your spouse, might be saying don’t do that 0 to 10 thing on me again. Just keep it in your own mind. Try and work out where that person is at in any part of their life. They may be going well in some parts, but in some other parts might be really struggling.”

Whether we’re struggling ourselves or whether we’re eager to help someone else, Dr Warlow says we need to remember to bring our problems to Jesus. “Whether it’s good or bad, whether it’s right or wrong, just come to him. Allow him to come into that situation. There is no place too dark for God to be.”

Listen to Neil Johnson’s conversation with Dr John Warlow for much more encouragement and advice on how to take care of your whole self, and others too, during this difficult time.

Tune into 20Twenty and join the conversation with Neil Johnson, weekdays on Vision Christian Radio. Click here for your local times.

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