For almost 10 years, Pastor Debbie Lanier has served as a voice of calm and reason for Forsyth Woman readers through her column, “Keeping It Real.” Debbie has a gentle way of driving home a critical life lesson through grace, forthrightness, and laughter. She’s long been recognized as a voice of kindness that is deeply respected in our community.
As a noted speaker and trusted resource, Debbie has been a sounding board for how to handle the battles we’ve all faced since March 2020.
“2020 was traumatic,” Debbie stated, “no one doubts that. And 2021 hasn’t been much kinder. The impact on the health of those who contracted COVID, as well as the impact on livelihoods and the financial toll so many experienced, plus emotional anguish, loneliness, despair, and the very real spiritual impact – it was overwhelming. As a pastor, I found that, for the most part, people fell into one of three areas, but most of us experienced some degree of all three. Those are Fear, Frustration, or Fighting Forward.”
“These were, for the most part, the defining moments Americans faced as the pandemic progressed. But, unfortunately, those for whom fear dominates their emotions have continued to struggle as bad news piles upon more bad news. It’s been a time where many have been paralyzed by circumstances and have no idea how to live beyond it.”
Debbie continued, “But that’s not meant to put shame on anyone. Fear is a valid emotion, and at some point, especially during the beginning when it was all a guessing game, we all experienced some degree of fear. Not just fear of COVID but fear of losing loved ones, losing jobs, and losing income. Prolonged fear wreaks havoc on every part of our living.”
“But beyond fear,” Debbie said, “there’s also frustration. Another common emotion all of us have experienced…. Some people have lingered here more than others, and this has been their dominant emotion for the last two years.”
“And can you blame them?” Debbie mused. “There has been a lot to be frustrated by. So much we don’t know and information overload…. For many, their frustration has been rooted in having no idea what sources are reliable. There’s also the uncomfortable stillness that leads to frustration. It uncovers wounds of the soul that busyness helps us forget.
“Finally,” Debbie shifted, “There’s the last dominant feeling – Fighting Forward. For those who have this as their dominant emotion, it’s not that they haven’t felt fear or frustration, but they’ve made up their mind that neither would build a nest in their hearts and minds! They have chosen to fight against the fear! Fight against the frustration! And fight forward! These are the ones who are fighting to make the best in spite of the unknown and they have a determined perseverance through trials.”
Debbie reiterated, “Again, wherever someone lands on the emotional spectrum, there is no shame or judgment. This is based on my observation of people I’ve counseled and talked to during this unprecedented time. Some people tend to have a natural tendency toward resiliency and the ability to overcome. Others have to work at it a little harder.
“For those who have the natural predisposition to fight forward, it’s important to remember that emotions are never one size fits all. A fighter still struggles. As someone once said, ‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but action in spite of it.’”
Debbie shared, “One of my favorite verses in response to our last couple of years is Psalm 66:12b. It says, ‘We went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.’ Of course, abundance doesn’t always equate to earthly riches, but the richness of God’s grace, goodness, and heavenly peace available to all who seek Him through their personal fires and floods.
“Troubles will always be a part of this world,” Debbie continued. “If it’s not this – it will be something else. We live in a broken world. But there is hope. And it’s only a prayer away.”
Dr. Debbie Lanier is a pastor at Hope Community Church. Visit the church located at 4660 Brownsboro Road in Winston-Salem. Learn more at HopeCommunityChurch.TV. Call 336.896.0002.