Who would have thought daily hikes would make all the difference in facing the challenges of Covid-19 and sheltering in place? In addition to the help of fresh air and exercise, for my husband and me this time together gave us the opportunity to connect and feel understood. In other words, it provided a chance for rich emotional, spiritual and physical support.
There are seven key ways humans need to get and give support, according to Linda Tonneson, founder of the ministry Women Revealed. Some ways are obvious while others may surprise you. I doubt most us have been taught much about support-giving. Here’s how we’ve cared for ourselves and each other and how you can get and give the support you need—especially in life’s storms:
As we headed up our historic Main Street and onto wooded paths, the sights and sounds of nature invited us to pay attention to our inner lives. It’s a powerful thing when the Created are in Creation! Our walks helped us distract ourselves together in these difficult days. We felt connected as we’d hold hands or reach out to steady one another. Doing activities together for diversion and physical touch are two powerful ways we experience support.
As David and I walked, we could vent to release our anger, fear, and sadness. When we vent to someone trustworthy like a dear friend or even God, we calm ourselves by releasing our turbulent, negative emotions much like a boiling teapot lets off steam. We feel connected and validated when we feel heard.
Sharing difficult emotions can expose areas where we need to be affirmed. I could hear David’s uncertainty as he lead his chemical plant, caring for fearful employees and taking new measures to keep them safe. Seeing his need for affirmation as a leader in unprecedented times I could affirm he was doing everything he could to lead well. We’d ask each other for advice on how to care for ourselves and those near us. We’d share our thoughts about how to advise our son who faced coming home to finish college online and another son navigating job loss.
Discussing what we had control of in the pandemic revealed how limited we are and how much we need an infinite God. We supported each other through prayer, asking Him to protect and guide us, our boys, our families and communities and those especially vulnerable or hurting. As we poured out our fears and faith to God, we felt His peaceful, loving presence.
In prayer, He’d show us the needs around us and prompted us to do acts of service like delivering groceries to an elderly church couple or encouraging friends struggling in their businesses. Doing something for others reminded us we do have agency and gave perspective as we focused on someone else’s needs.
We need support more than ever in desperate times. When we don’t get it, we’re driven by our emotions and oftentimes end up hurting others as these untended to feelings spew out “sideways.” Processing what we feel is hard, but always worth it. Both David and I can say, “it is well with my soul” because we’ve acknowledged our needs and addressed them.
We can’t expect others to read our minds and know our needs; we’re responsible to know what support we need and to ask for it. When we use the tools of touch, distracting ourselves together, venting, affirmation, advice, prayer and acts of service, we’ll feel deeply supported and have much to offer others.