As we have all experienced, COVID-19 has consumed a lot of what we do and have to consider in our daily lives. In my role as a Campus Pastoral Associate at Australian Catholic University I am around many people who have immune compromised health or who fall into the ‘at risk’ category. As part of my routine I have been doing rapid antigen tests weekly to ensure I have not unknowingly been sharing the ‘covid love’ with others. As you can imagine, that’s a lot of RA tests, and I had become quite blasé about them. Each week the same result, one little line across the stick; it was so routine and then life continued as normal.
Imagine my shock recently after doing a test my daughter yelled out to me, “Mum, you have two lines!” “What? Noooo, it can’t be!” was my response. That’s when the shock set in. Seven days of FOMO while simultaneously feeling anxious about my health. All the media around COVID and watching it affect millions of people worldwide did send a small amount of pre-emptive fear into me, as well as a little guilt about who I had been in contact with earlier that day. When I told a colleague I had finally succumbed to COVID, his first words were, “You are human after all.” Hilarious!
Thankfully, my symptoms were only mild and a couple of days with a bad headache and tiredness were all I had to deal with. It was just the isolation, interruption to routine and life that was the inconvenience, and of course, not being on the university campus and having easy access to those with whom I work.
On day five when my symptoms were probably at their worst I fell over and sprained my ankle. There I was, sitting on the floor, feeling sorry for myself. What else could go wrong? I couldn’t even go to a doctor or physiotherapist while still COVID positive, so I just hobbled around, miserable and sulking.
Later that day, my phone pinged with a message and it was my brother who wanted to chat. He had just been told the surgeons want to remove his bladder due to a recurring cancer. Hearing about this helped to put things back into perspective. It wasn’t to deny or ignore what I was going through, but it enabled me to move into a more positive frame of mind and to respond better to the pain in my ankle and focus on the road to recovery. I knew it wasn’t healthy to dwell in a space of negativity and darkness.
In the midst of every challenge or obstacle, there is always grace. To better care for others, I need to tap into that grace, remain positive and heal through self-care. This enables me to empathise and to better support others like my brother, friends, and co-workers on their journey in life. I recently read a beautiful quote from a contemporary Christian author, Philip Yancey, which summed it all up for me: “Grace, like water, flows to the lowest part.” I know I can draw strength from my faith when the darkness sets in. I hope that in your life challenges you can also confidently draw on your inner strength and experience that grace.