Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Charlottesville, VA

April 2, 2021

Faith Struggles During The Year of COVID-19.

      Today's blog post is one I've been wanting to write for quite awhile, but have continued to put off (probably because it's a more vulnerable topic). With Sunday being Easter and today being Good Friday, it seemed like now might finally be the time to write this. I wanted to write honestly and openly about some of my faith related thoughts and feelings in the past year during COVID-19.

  


      When I think back on some of the times in my life when I've felt that I was experiencing the most personal growth, it's always been times that I've been deeply involved in a church/faith community. These months and years when I felt most spiritually fulfilled were not necessarily the best times for other aspects of my personal life (often it could be quite the opposite!). Even though these might have been points in my life where I was dealing with a lot personally, I felt like my faith was such a rock for me. and it was a blessing to be surrounded by such a great faith community. 

     What were a few of those times in my life when I felt most involved in my faith? The first (and probably most notable) was the middle school youth group I was involved with when I was in 5th-7th grade (I formally accepted Christ in 6th grade, right in the middle of this!). The next time would be my freshman year of college. I went to a Christian college freshman year before transferring schools sophomore year- and being in a Christian environment during such a pivotal year of life was so helpful to me. And finally- I think of 2017/18, the year that I lived and worked in Vermont. That was definitely one of the hardest times of my life both personally and professionally, but I attended an incredible church in Vermont and found Christian community there that was just so meaningful and special to me, and I think truly saved me during that time. 

     My disconnect and struggles with feeling close to my faith actually started in 2019, before COVID-19. I moved to Charlottesville in 2018, and attended the same church for my first year and a half here. I'll always be grateful to that church as its how I met most of my closest friends here, but spiritually/theology-wise that church wasn't what I needed it to be for my own spiritual growth and maturity, so I decided to leave in mid-2019, about a year and a half after I had started attending. I church hunted a bit in 2019, and then in September of that year picked a new church to attend. Honestly... I was getting sick of church hunting and was just ready to have a home church again so I picked one and decided it was mine.

    But in January 2020, I realized the new church I'd been attending for a few months had more similarities than I would've liked to my first Charlottesville church (that I'd left), and I didn't feel like it was the right environment for what I was looking for in a longterm church home. So back to the church hunt again! It got off to a great start in February 2020.... and then one month later COVID-19 entered our worlds and churches shut down for in-person services. Everything was chaos. The last time I attended a church service in-person and indoors was Sunday March 8th, 2020.

     There are some indoor masked activities that I do feel comfortable doing before I can get the COVID-19 vaccine (such as going shopping/running errands)... but I just haven't felt comfortable yet with attending church in person. I think that is because while running errands or other indoor things involve movement (aka you can move over or leave somewhere if you feel uncomfortable with a lack of social distancing), church isn't that way. You're literally sitting in one spot in one indoor room for over an hour. If someone near you isn't wearing a mask or isn't wearing one properly... you're stuck there. It's not like the grocery store where you can just move to another aisle or something. I was I was more comfortable... but I'm just not until I'm vaccinated. 

     It really stinks that I started the pandemic (which is probably the most uncertain times of life that my generation might ever live through) without having a home church. I felt so lost last spring making a decision on where to livestream services from every Sunday. For a few months, I ended up just going back virtually to the church I attended in college in Charlotte for years. It was cool to feel part of that congregation again via virtual technology, but doing that for a few months made me feel even more disconnected and confused about a church home in Charlottesville, especially because I could no longer visit them in person. While I was grateful for modern technology allowing me to revisit a church that was once my home, I longed for the security and comfort of an actual home church. Since 2018, it's been tough for me to be involved with bible studies due to my early weeknight bedtime for work as a morning show host. I feel like 2020 would've been the ideal time to be involved in that type of community as well as just a church, but I was unable to do that as well. 

     I've been in a weird place with faith this past year. I feel so disconnected and I hate it. I know that it's mainly because I began the pandemic without a home church. It's been harder and harder for me to focus on regular prayer time and daily bible readings and devotions. I'm definitely not giving up on my faith or questioning my Christian beliefs and values or anything.... but it all just feels like something I'm not enthused about lately. And that's really hard and vulnerable for me to type that on this blog publicly... but it's my been my reality.

    Goodness- I truly feel so guilty even typing that above. Every time I take a few minutes to think about how disconnected I've been from my faith and the community that goes with it, I immediately feel guilty. I think of the hundreds of thousands (maybe millions?) of persecuted Christians living in places that don't allow them to worship freely. I think of missionaries who have given their lives to preach the Gospel, oftentimes in places that aren't the most desirable. I think of Jesus Himself, especially as we honor his death and resurrection this very weekend for Good Friday (today) and Easter. I am so very thankful for His unending grace... the fact He still loves me even when I haven't made Him a priority and have felt far from Him this year is just incredible. Wow. 

     The sort of good news... over the past few months I believe I have might have found my new home church. It's one I visited a couple times in 2019 my first go-around with church hunting. I've been watching their services online on Sundays pretty steadily now since November. My group for the vaccine in this region of Virginia opened for sign-ups yesterday, so I'm hoping it'll be within the next 6-8 weeks that I'm fully vaccinated and feel comfortable attending a full indoor church service on Sundays again! And I am excited to go back to this church in person and hopefully make it officially my home church. 


     I'm hoping the rest of 2021 I will find the same passion and enthusiasm for faith and Christian community that I've had in past years again. My soul craves it deeply. Faith itself is a journey.... one I surely never expected to live out through a pandemic year. On this Good Friday, I am so thankful for God's grace in my own life.

     
     "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need..." - Hebrews 4:16 NIV


     God Bless,


     xoxo Annaliese 


     

     
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