Updated: Apr 22
Honestly, as I sit down to write out just a few thoughts I have had and a few things that I have been learning during this season, I had to stop for a minute and just take in the reality of the time that we are in right now. I never expected to hear the words “social distancing” or “stay at home order” or “quarantine” for my lifetime, for a season that has no definitive end. The time that we are currently facing is unprecedented for many. Sometimes I am at a loss for words when a friend texts me asking how I am doing or how I’m holding up in quarantine. Sometimes the only words I can make out are “This is crazy.”
However, in this time of uncertainty, I have been learning the duality of this season. Often, I look back at seasons in my life saying, “oh that was a season that I really grew” or to another season saying, “that was a time that was incredibly difficult for me.” Yet, in this coronavirus season, God has been gently teaching me that a season can both take so much from you and restore so much to you. It’s a beautiful and complex duality that I have been learning in this season and was hoping to share some encouragement that I have found in it.
Before you stop reading because I called something in this season “beautiful,” I want to say that this has been an incredibly difficult time for me, as I am sure many readers can relate. For me personally, I had to move out of college, Colorado Christian University, arguably my favorite place, a place of growth and belonging for me, and go back home to Minnesota. While home is a comfort and joy as well, it was not what I had planned for the next several months. I had planned to still be living in La Plata (my dorm building), to still be an RA to 18 incredible freshman ladies, to continue leading worship both at my church and school, to continue to be in community and proximity with my friends and second family, to be attending my favorite classes in person, and to be impacting and impacted by the place I love most.
The last four weeks of this season have included a lot of grief and dark mental health struggles as I cope with the loss of all of that. This time can be, and for many is, a dark season of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and immense grief as the walls feel like they continue to get closer and closer, as we no longer have that physical contact anymore, as we don’t enjoy the little things that we may have used to find so much joy in, as we are grieving the loss of the past season or even of loved ones. This has been, is, and will continue to be, a dark time for many.
And with what I am about to say next, I do not want it to sound like I am diminishing the reality of the darkness in this time, because I have been there too. Even as I write this, I face the reality that I have been in bed all day, too depressed to even grab a notebook for class.
With all of that said, the duality of this season is what I have been finding hope in and what I have been holding onto to keep going. Although this season has taken so much from me and I have had to grieve many losses and stumble through mental health, this season has also restored so much to me. God has been gently lifting my head, day after day, showing me where He is at work in the midst of this crisis. He always is, isn’t He?
For me, since being home and transitioning to online classes, I have gotten back into some healthy rhythms and I have learned how to rest again. Life in college the past 7 months, although such a joy that I smile just writing this sentence, was busy. Too busy. I had my life pretty much scheduled down to every 30 minutes, with a few minutes in there to breathe and maybe some time to eat if I was lucky. While it kept me busy and entertained, I had lost the notion of what it meant to rest. I had no time for Sabbath and no time for personal time with God. I had nothing left to give to take care of myself either.
In the past month, I have been spending time in the word daily, working out 5 times a week, and eating healthier. God has been meeting me in those times in ways that I didn’t even know he could. I have spent quality time with my family that I would not have gotten until next December had it not been for this season. I hear news stories of smog gone from major cities and wildlife returning to streams and bodies of water.
Although this is a time of major loss and darkness, I believe it can also be a time of restoration. For some, restoration and loss may seem like polar opposites. But maybe, to borrow words from one of my favorite professors, Dr. Raymond Mitsch, this is a time that is “both/and, not either/or.” I believe that God is up to something, maybe restoration being a large part of it, that is ultimately for His glory and for the good of those who love Him. He is still in control, He is still sovereign, and He is still close. So, I encourage you, stay present in this time. Ask God what He is up to or what He has to show you specifically in this coronavirus season. Ask Him to help lift your eyes back to Him, to learn how to rest, and simply learn to be His daughter/son again – perfect in His eyes, not needing to perform or measure up, but beautiful, chosen, and loved as you are, right now.
- Abbie VandenEinde, Vice President and Content Creator for Proclaim It Well