One year ago this past week, our world came to a stop. Depending on your location, you may mark the one year anniversary on March 11, March 13, or one of the other days this week. At Lifeway, we were instructed to work from home on March 13, to test out our remote-work capabilities. Most of us thought we’d be back the following Monday. Instead, that Friday marked a shift that has lasted an entire year.
Over that weekend, states mandated stay-at-home orders, churches began to pivot from meeting in person to online services, we learned terminology like “social distancing,” and new fears and new grief crept into our lives. For an entire year now, we’ve lived in a world with a pandemic. While COVID-19 brought with it sorrow and hardship of many kinds, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on what God has taught us during this year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, God has truly revealed Himself as a creative provider who desires for us to live in community with one another. It would have been nearly impossible—or at the very least miserable—to do life alone in this season.
God provided community in unique and unexpected ways for me, breaking my preconceived notion of what I always imagined my ideal community would look like: He opened doors for my husband and me to build relationships with our nearby neighbors, He used technology to connect me with other people of color from all across the country who found themselves struggling with growing racial and political tensions, and He healed many fractured personal relationships as He taught me just how precious and limited life and time are. This season, with all of its ups and downs, has been one of rest, connection, and healing.
– Amanda Mae Steele, B&H Kids Marketing Specialist
Right before the pandemic hit, our family took in a foster baby whom we later learned had special needs. A few weeks later, my job went from an office/home hybrid to 100% work from home.
Working full time from home with a child with special needs and elementary aged homeschooling children in a pandemic proved to be quite difficult, but it has given my wife and me great insight into the challenges parents of children with special needs face and how valuable respite care is—whether that’s caring for a child to allow for a couple’s vacation, a date night, or even to allow parents to enjoy a worship service by providing Sunday School classes for children and adults with special needs.
After two years of fostering, our family is about to take a break; however, we’re seeking how the Holy Spirit might lead us to serve families with special needs in new ways. It’s interesting how the Lord grows us and allows one experience, even one we might not have chosen for ourselves, to turn into new opportunities to grow His kingdom.
– Aaron Wilson, Corporate Communications Editor
I praise God for the community my wife and I have been able to build at my apartment complex and neighborhood over the past year. Before the pandemic, we barely knew our immediate neighbors and didn’t know anyone beyond our building. Because we’ve been home most of the time and taken many “pandemic walks” with our dog, we’ve gotten to know many new, wonderful people from our complex and our neighborhood. It’s made Nashville feel even more like home and has been a comfort to make new friends in a time that’s filled with a lot of isolation.
– Micheal Walley, Events Production Specialist
Around month eight of the pandemic, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow! We really are okay—we are making it through this life adjustment just fine.” Our family of five was enjoying being at home more, planning themed dinner parties, trying new recipes, and, best of all, having consistent family devotions. Our kids were in a district that had no signs of going back in person, so my husband and I decided to implement homeschool curriculum with them instead of the all-day virtual. Everything was rolling along smoothly until one day in December, I realized I wasn’t doing “just fine” anymore.
I deeply missed interacting with people in real life, I began mourning all the things my kids had missed out on (milestones, sports, in-person friends), and I even began to panic about their education, wondering if they were falling behind. I missed my out-of-state family immensely after not seeing them over Christmas. It all hit me at once, it seemed. I was overwhelmed with feelings of grief and worry—and most of all, feeling like I was not in control of my life.
I’m so used to planning things for work, for my family, for what’s next, and basically getting all of my energy from being future-focused. A huge light was shining on my need to feel like I’m in control of the future, when in reality, I never was! The struggle for me in this season has truly been about living in the present. I have been walking with Jesus for a long time, but I’ve never been through a season where trust and faith have been so challenging. I have had to cling to Him by the hour, even minute, trusting that He is in control and that He will direct my path.
So while I am not on the other side of this journey, I am actively learning to trust. I am trusting Him for daily provision of joy, for glimpses of hope in what the future holds, and more than anything, enjoying communion with Him in the here and now.
– Jana Magruder, Director, Lifeway Kids
In March of 2020, our church was meeting at an elementary school. Little did we know a global pandemic would close schools and thus our church’s doors. But the Lord knew and was providing for us in ways we could never have imagined.
In the fall of 2019, we started a prayer journey leading up to a capital building campaign. Eight days later, our church received an unexpected phone call asking if we wanted to buy an existing church’s building and property for a fraction of its market value. On February 23, 2020 we closed on that property with intentions to continue meeting at the school while we built phase 2 to better meet our needs. Of course, we all know what happened just a few weeks later.
With our new building, the Lord provided a space to live stream services from during the initial shutdown, and we now call it home as we’ve begun to gather in person again.
– Dale Sandberg, Post-Production Team Leader
In March last year, a group of guys at my church started a Friday morning prayer call, not knowing it would still be going strong a year later. It’s allowed me to be engaged in the lives of fellow believers outside of work and my “normal” circles at church and has allowed me to cultivate my prayer life way beyond what it would be without the pandemic.
– Patrick Watts, Lead Business Analyst
Last March brought a disruption to a busy season for me—as I’m sure it did for a lot of us. I found my full schedule quickly emptied and replaced with staying home. Toward the beginning of my time in quarantine, I was reading the account of Jesus at the home of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 and was struck—for a long time, I had been Martha. My idea of serving, and really my idea of dying to self, had been this “workaday, full-schedule, push-past-tired,” life. But as that was taken away, the Lord began teaching me anew what it means to die to self. Dying to self will always be a difficult and often painful process. But looking at the story of Mary and Martha, we see that it isn’t always being the busy one—many times, it looks like sacrificing the world’s idea of success to simply sit at the feet of Jesus. It means choosing the good portion, which is Christ, over what others perceive of us. Throughout this year, I have been asking myself, “Am I being filled in the Spirit before pouring into others?” Or “Am I willing to sacrifice getting things done to truly abide in Christ?”
These questions have been transformational in a year that has brought many challenges. This time has taught me that I must die to my flesh daily, but also that I must daily fill my spirit.
– Ravin McKelvy, Marketing Writer