No one could have predicted the extent to which this pandemic has affected every area of our lives. No one has escaped its impact, and it can feel like there is no foreseeable end in sight.
As the prevalence of COVID-19 penetrated globally, I’ve witnessed this virus’s menacing effects. With the backdrop of fear and anxiety, we were moved into “shelter in place,” isolated from our normal rhythm of life. Many of the familiar relationships that feed us joy and contentment were shackled, leaving us unable to connect with those we love.
Searching for Friends… Virtually
During the height of sequestering and feeling increasingly confined, my wife Cathy and I were introduced (virtually) to Nathan and Rebekah Elliott—Small Group leaders at College Park Church.
Meeting new people through video phone platforms can be difficult. So much of communication and reading others’ intentions is lost when done digitally. Nonetheless, it was very clear to see across a screen just how charming, fervent, and genuine the Elliotts really are. After an initial digital visit where we exchanged personal information and life stories, we were asked to join their Small Group.
Searching for Friends in Different Life Stages
Our first virtual gathering with the group was special. We were very excited at the invitation to join a group of believers younger than us—we are substantially older than the mostly thirty-somethings in the group. And we felt privileged that the Elliotts would invite us to share our stories of faith even though we were in a different season of life.
Playing the role of “senior mentors” can be valuable. However, Cathy and I relish the idea of sharing and growing ourselves by interchanging with our peers—even if those peers are younger than us. Our hope is that this peer dynamic will play out as all of those in our group exchange our life stories and experiences.
We feel blessed to have been introduced to a group of young, but very committed and bold believers who love Christ. We feel fortunate that we are bringing age diversity in a group, and we also hope that our seasoned experiences will breathe in some “sage sweetness” to our community of brothers and sisters.
Searching for Friends When Life Is Hard
No matter the circumstances, no one can argue with the existential reality that life is hard. However, God designed us to live in community in the midst of that hardness (Gal. 6:2). And we’re called to journey together in a way that is undergirded by his Spirit (Rom. 8:12-14). We are so grateful for our new Small Group.
And as COVID-19 continues to pervade our lives, Cathy and I continue to pray for his glory to be evident, even when life is hard. Because Christ is the only one who can turn hardness into hope and tragedy into triumph.