2020 was a hard year for so many of us. I can’t imagine there are many people whose lives are truly untouched by the events of this last year and a half. I am certainly not one of them if they do exist. I spent the better part of 2020 and the early weeks of 2021 cooped up in my city apartment and completely alone. Some weeks I was able to visit with friends. Other weeks my only human contact was the cashier at the grocery store or the uber driver who delivered my food that day. Life felt pretty grim. Normalcy seemed like in unreachable dream too far up in the atmosphere to ever come back down to my level here on the ground.
Not everything in my life was bleak. I was getting to know my sweet boyfriend, beginning to pursue writing a little more seriously, and spending more time doing things I loved. But between the bright moments of feeling passionate about these things I love most of my days were spent wondering around my apartment until I plopped onto my couch or into my bed to scroll away another pointless day in isolation. My screen time rocketed because suddenly my entire life was online. Church services, Bible studies, prayer meetings- it all blended into the same: screentime that did little to meet the spiritual and emotional needs I had which only seemed to grow as time went on.
And then something changed. I flew back to the US for what I thought was a 3-4 week long trip. Upon my arrival I stayed with a family friend and for the first time in almost a year had daily human interaction. It didn’t take long for my depression and anxiety to ease. I won’t say life was suddenly perfect or that I no longer struggled. But the change in circumstances brought about a change in me, too. Suddenly needs I had forgotten were even there were being met. It’s amazing how the littlest things can change your entire day: having someone tell you good morning before they head off to work, cooking for family and friends and sharing a meal together, or even just the simple fact that there is someone living and breathing under the same roof as you who you can talk to at any time.
My trip stretched into almost 4 months rather than weeks. There were days when the weight of having my life here and being there felt heavy. And days when I still felt a little bit depressed or a whole lot anxious. To a degree our problems follow us. But those days and moments became the exception. I found that most days were good. That the bleak moments were the spots in between and not the overwhelming majority of my time awake. And what made all the difference? I was not alone. I was surrounded by healthy company. And while better circumstances didn’t solve all of my problems, it did make my life a whole lot more meaningful. And a lot better, truth be told.
The day before I left Oaxaca 4 months ago I got a new roommate. Now that I am back we’ve been living together for about a week. And I can honestly say I am grateful. I am grateful that the Lord provided me a refuge in the form of my friend’s home and company. That he healed me where I had been hit the hardest by this pandemic. And that upon my return he has continued to make sure that I am not alone.
I don’t know what the future holds or what plans God has for this next year. But one thing I do know is that I am more convinced than ever that when God says in Genesis that it is not good for man to be alone this very much applies to woman too. We need community. We need each other. And as we venture out into the world once again I am sure there will be many new challenges to come. There will be moments when going back to life as usual feels awkward or unnatural or even exhausting. But little by little it’s important to make sure we find ourselves back out in the world again. Too many of us have spent too long making it through on our own. And now is the time to say to each other ‘You are not alone.’