When Fear Comes Knocking

 Guest Post by Alyssa Silva 

Note from Jody: Fear is universal, especially in these uncertain times. So what better way to fortify our courage than to learn from someone who has a black belt in confronting fear? 

 Alyssa Silva is one of my heroes. Talk about inspiring! At 29, she has faced more challenges than most of us will experience if we live to 100. Not only has she lived with a life-long disability, she has graduated from college, started a non-profit, become an accomplished blogger and been featured on ESPN. You can learn more about Alyssa and sign up for her blog here.  

When Jody first asked me to be a guest blogger on her website, I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive. I don’t know about you, but Jody is someone I look up to— in writing and in life. Her unwavering ability to find strength and faith in all of life’s moments and proceed to write so eloquently about is admirable. I think we could take a page from her book.
So, my friend, the pressure is on for me as I step up to the plate to contribute to Jody’s weekly doses of inspiration. But, if there’s one message Jody has proven time and time again, it’s that words heal. They string together life’s most profound moments and become the foundation in which hope can be found, faith can be restored, and love can be cultivated.
Now, more than ever, I believe we all could use the healing power of words. These are some unprecedented times we’re living in, so it is with great hope that I use my words to sprinkle a little bit of light into your life today. Let’s get to it.
There’s a lot I could tell you about me, but for the sake of this story, I’d like to introduce myself as Alyssa, the girl who is considered to be a high risk COVID-19 person. The reason I’m at high risk is because I was diagnosed with a terminal disease shortly after birth. The diagnosis: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a disease I would most likely succumb to before my 2nd birthday according to what little knowledge was known (at the time) on this beast. And while I’ve lived to tell the story for 29 years now, the road that led to here has prepared me for days like these.
Without getting into the nitty gritty of this disease, SMA essentially weakens a person’s muscles, both progressively and aggressively. I have never walked. I’ve never known the gift of breathing without difficulty or lifting up my arm to scratch an itch on my head. Yes, these are two contrasting examples, but it paints a picture of just how physically immobile I am.
Despite my laundry list of problems, I’m not immunocompromised which is great news at a time like this— well, to an extent. While my immune system may be healthy, something as simple as the common cold could be life-threatening for me as my lungs are too weak to fight off an infection. In other words, a virus such as COVID-19 puts me in elevated danger.
Per the World Health Organization’s recommendation, I (along with my parents) have been in complete isolation since early March. No one is allowed into our home. Groceries and other limited necessities are left in the garage and untouched for a period of time unless perishable. I have suspended all personal caregiving services I receive on a daily basis. Flashbacks of having H1N1 almost 11 years ago are resurfacing and taunting me in weaker moments. Life, as I know it, feels eerily dark.
As you can imagine, there is an immense amount of worry and fear weighing heavy on my chest as of late. However, living with a disease as debilitating as SMA, these feelings have knocked on my door countless times in the past. So, lately, I find myself leaning on those experiences to help me navigate through this new unknown.
Because even in the unknown, I’ve learned two universal truths will always remain: love will still exist and faith will still guide the way. When I reflect on my darkest hours, I don’t think of how the unknown filled me with despair and angst. I don’t think of the times I spent laying on hospital beds, wondering if that day would be the day I took my last breath.
Instead, I think of my unshakable faith that has shown me God is far greater than I’ll ever know, for His love has pulled me out of the deepest trenches. I think of the outpouring of love that has shown me its infinite healing power.
And I think of how the unknown was the very foundation in which these life-changing truths were built upon.
In times such as these, I wish I had a quick fix for what everyone is going through. I wish crystal balls and magic wands didn’t just exist in fairytales and that I could bippity-boppity the world back to the way it was. Alas, as my past has proven to me, life doesn’t work that way. 
But, while I’m confident in assuming you and I have never been through something as unprecedented as this global pandemic, I can promise you— even in this wild unknown— love and faith are ready for you to grab its reins and press forward.
Are you willing to reach out your hands?