Connecting With Your Community – Mid-COVID

Happy Monday! I’m still picking out peach-and-ivory confetti from my couch cushions today, y’all, but I’m here and ready to SLAY this Monday.

Slay might be an overstatement, but I’m most definitely here. AND it’s Monday. So most of that is true.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my connections lately. I’m not naturally outgoing. Outside the confines of anxiety, I’m comfortable conversing with a stranger or a group of strangers and am friendly and open.

But it doesn’t come naturally. My sister? She’s a natural-born extrovert. Like my daddy, she rarely meets a stranger and collects friends like some people collect… Whatever it is they choose to collect.

I’ve always known that about myself, but it wasn’t a big deal. The way I was raised, things were pretty straightforward. So it’s harder to smile and introduce yourself? It’s the right thing to do, so do it anyway. It will get easier.

And it worked. I could do it, and I did. Simple solutions, right? And then anxiety swooped in and completely rewired my brain for awhile. THANKS, HORMONES. Post-trauma stress, I loathe you with the strength of a thousand suns.

And what I found in the aftermath of managing the internal dialogue of anxiety was that it was much, much harder to smile and introduce myself first. I found myself avoiding eye contact because I might have to be the bigger person and take the first step and initiate conversations, and anxiety’s little love child is fear. Fear of many things, but particularly of stepping out into the unknown.

Oh, and THEN. Pandemic, y’all. Can I just say that we all deserve a little trophy for surviving this far with some brain cells intact?

Any strides that might have been made in reclaiming my voice and owning my relationships with those around me were almost impossible to maintain. Mom groups? Nope. Playdates? Nope. Church groups? Nope. Family BBQs? Well, those still happened, but we were supposed to apply for a permit to hold a cookout in our yard.

Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen. Sorry, Lord, we definitely broke a law.

Fear of the unknown was and is dished out by the media and social media outlets in SPADES. This isn’t news to any adult with internet access, I know. But for me, and countless others like me, clawing and grappling my way to a life of purpose, not only for myself and my family, but for those around me, was made exponentially more challenging.

Of course, everything is FINE because random celebrities keep reminding us all that we should take good care of our mental health. You know. Reach out if you need support. But, also, don’t reach out. Or just stay over there, at a distance. Don’t actually GO out anywhere. Because COVID. So really, stay home and make crafts with your kids. Exercise in your spacious home gym.

And make sure you get some me time, because self love, amiright?

What happened for so many people is that social media became ‘me time’, and we all know how addicting social media is. I mean, come on – we’ve all seen the documentaries, right? It happened for me, too. I found myself ashamed of the amount of time I was spending on my phone, and totally unmotivated to stop. I ended up making some drastic cuts to my social media presence last fall, which has been life changing for me.

But connecting with people other than my family remains challenging for me. I started the game behind a few paces, not being naturally outgoing. I lost some momentum dealing with anxiety. And then COVID threw a spike strip out, y’all. And then it dragged into this year, when many of us thought for sure it’d be a blip on the radar.

So my summer challenge for myself is going to be about making those connections again. Putting myself out there and developing more meaningful friendships with like-minded people around me, and hopefully, being able to be a blessing.

That’s a mindset that anxiety tried to take from me; that I’m called to be a blessing, which means, sometimes, that I have to step outside myself.

So how are you doing connections, and friendships, and ministry mid-COVID?

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