Thursday, May 7, 2020

Joy in the Struggle by Sally Shupe

How many of us are struggling through the quarantine? I’ve spent a lot of time feeling like I’m drowning, feeling overwhelmed, struggling with finding a routine while stuck at home and working. Maybe you’ve lost your job, your income, your connections. That’s a struggle. There are also people who are enjoying time spent at home with their families and pets that they normally wouldn’t have because of having to work outside the home. Then there are others working on the frontlines, nurses, doctors, veterinarian offices, grocery workers, gas station attendants, and many others. All of us have different sets of struggles, of feelings, of issues and have many different ways of dealing with these struggles. How are you dealing with them? Are you discouraged, dismayed, disconnected, frightened, overwhelmed, fatigued, irritable, anxious? How can we turn this around?

What have you been doing during this time? Cleaning your home? Learning a new skill? Strengthening relationships? Writing your book? Exercising? Visiting new churches virtually? Visiting different places online? The suggestions are endless! You can see plays, aquariums, baby animals, exercise videos, interviews, church services, guided trail hikes (I just found this one!), YouTube learning, LinkedIn Learning, read writing craft books, etc. all from the comfort of your own home! What have you experienced? What have you learned?

I’ve found so many new things online. There are classes you can take to learn Word or Excel, or learn a new language. I found a webcam of an eagle and her eaglets. That one is mesmerizing. I became an expert at using Zoom. My son lives in Florida and I haven’t gotten to go back down there yet, since January. He finally got Zoom and now we can talk to each other and see each other! Between that and having meetings online, I’ve learned how to mute audio, turn video on and off, rearrange the frames, get Zoom to stay on top while I go look at something else, use a virtual background, and other features (the beautification option!). My latest skill is trying to groom my cat with clippers. What new skills have you tried your hand at?

The greatest interaction I’ve found: online church services! I can sit in my home and “visit” numerous church services in one day. My first few days at home, I felt disconnected, overwhelmed, isolated. By the third day, I didn’t even know what day of the week it was! But that Sunday morning, Facebook lit up with churches going live! And after several weeks, there were even more churches and pastors going live and connecting with many, many more “visitors” than they would have normally. This is a great thing! That first Sunday, all the services I watched, connected with what I was going through, with what I was feeling. I didn’t feel so alone and isolated. I felt connected. And each service since then, has strengthened that connectedness, that togetherness, that we’re going to make it through this together, apart. Let’s come out of this stronger, with a greater love for each other, with an unbreakable link to our families, friends, communities. Who have you connected with during this time?

At some point, we’ll be able to get back out there. What’s one thing you’ll do when the quarantine is over? You can show off and share a new skill, like a new language, or a blanket you made when you learned how to crochet, or visit that trail that you took a virtual tour of, or meet “friends” you made online, or show your completed book (or books if you have extensive amounts of time!). I want to visit the churches I’ve enjoyed online. I want to meet the pastors, the “online friends” who watch these services too. I want to personally say thank you for helping me through this time. Thank you for taking your time to put your services online so others can grow, feel connected, so when this is over, and we can be together again, what a day that will be! I also want to finish this book I’m working on. Anybody else working on a book? Let’s cheer each other on! What’s your one thing?

Hang in there, this is a season, and it will pass. What will you do with what you are given? Find joy in your struggle. Look on the bright side. Look for the little things that make you smile.

Sally Shupe lives in southwest Virginia with her husband, two grown kids-a daughter still at home and a son nearby, and a whole bunch of pets: five dogs, three cats, a rabbit, and birds at the birdfeeder (and the mandatory snowman when the snow cooperates). She writes contemporary Christian romance, with two completed manuscripts and three more in progress. They are part of a series located in small town Virginia.

When Sally’s not writing or working full-time, she is a freelance editor for several authors who write fiction and nonfiction; students working on dissertation papers; a copy editor for Desert Breeze; a content editor for Prism (became part of Pelican); performs beta reading for various authors; publishes book reviews on her blog and with Valley Business FRONT’s monthly magazine; is a member of ACFW and a PRO member of RWA; loves genealogy, running, and crocheting.

Sally uses her love of words to write about God’s amazing love.

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