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More From Andrew Billings

October 11, 2020 by Andrew Billings (Alabama, USA)

Since submitting my meditation, I have found myself living the words offered, returning to familiar passages and mantras since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

I’ve frequently found myself dividing things into three groups: things I can control, things I can aid if I prioritize, and things out of my personal control that must instead be offered to God. That practice, along with my wife, two children, and extended family and friend network, has kept my anxiety manageable.

One thing I struggle with (and I know I’m not alone) is that the problems arising from the pandemic still weigh on me, yet I feel these are all relatively minor compared to those struggling with having the virus or those actively working long hours to lessen its impact. 

As a college professor, I am not an essential worker, but feel very fortunate to have a way to try to help students navigate a difficult time. I teach an in-person class (36 students, socially distanced in a room designed for over 200) and arrive early to make sure all protocols are followed and that the room is safe. What I’ve found is that students also come early, and we engage in a variety of discussions ranging from the pandemic to sports to movies to relationships. We all wear masks, so there are no smiles to be seen. I must stay in a taped-off area, so there’s no physical closeness or kinship to be had. And yet, I’ve found this time meaningful. It seems crucial to acknowledge the uniqueness of this time and not pretend it is normal. It also seems important to embrace our opportunity to have a group discussion, as there are far fewer of those chances throughout the day now. For half of my students, mine is the only class they are taking that is not using online formats.

Physically attending a church service still is not something our family has been willing or able to do, but we’ve made do with fantastic virtual services offered by our church. It’s amazing what people have been able to do to make such options a reality, and we’ve welcomed it as the best substitute we can have right now. My wife, Angela, and I were both pleased with the way our two teenaged boys would still do some version of “dressing up” for virtual services, even if that practice has diminished as the months have gone on. We’ve even managed a makeshift communion with juice and Hawaiian bread that we have at home. It’s not the same, but it’s the best we can do at the moment. The pandemic has reminded us of the truth from the gospel, that wherever two or more people gather, Christ is there. 

The four of us have gathered—a lot—during the times of the pandemic. Yes, there have been struggles, but we’ve also played more cards, board games, and yard games than ever before. We all have work to do in various online formats, but we prioritize those opportunities to gather whenever we can. The pandemic has been quite rough, but there are moments arising from it that still can be cherished. Our oldest son will go off to college in 2021, so opportunities for the four of us to do things together will drop considerably. We are thankful to have these moments together.


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