COVID has affected us all. Whether or not we got the virus or the vaccine (and even if you would like to believe the virus is fake), the pandemic sweeping across the globe has changed nations, lives, and people. Sometimes for the worst. Sometimes for the better.
COVID dramatically affected me right from the beginning. I never caught the virus and was lucky to have no one in my family catch it. I am blessed to have most of my extended family living in New Zealand where cases are low. I cannot even begin to count the number of times I was so grateful I didn't have to be too worried about my extended family (particularly my grandparents) coming in contact with the virus.
However, it did change my day-to-day life. You may know (if you read my poetry book or have met me before) that I have a number of medical conditions. Of those, my family and I knew my asthma and enlarged aorta could put me at risk for complications (or even death) if I were to catch COVID and so as shutdowns began to happen, we made the decision to self-quarantine. At the same time, I had to step back from my job as an In-N-Out associate. At the time it seemed temporary but as time wore on, I was eventually told I had to give up my job or come back (risking my life). I became unemployed.
After about nine months in self-quarantine and more TV binging, sugar consuming, hating my life slumps than I could count, I began to question what I was doing. We knew at that point that the quarantine could go on for at least a few more months and I was stuck where I was but I was not stuck in the rut. I was not stuck hating my life and I was not stuck treating my body, life, and soul like crap.
So you know what I did?
I started writing!
Well, not exactly. I started eating right, exercising daily, and pushing myself to read my Bible more and listen to more worship music. I prayed and asked God to join me on the journey back to who I wanted to be and though I didn't constantly feel His presence like I have in other difficult times, I found the motivation I needed to journey back to who I wanted to be and that was enough.
For a long time after finishing the first draft of The Criminal (and trying to edit it before realizing it was crap) I left writing in the dust so when I started to push myself to journey back into who I wanted to be and start building up habits that would put me on the right track for the careers I wanted (youth ministry leader and writer) I began to write again.
At first, I simply was putting together the poetry book I had also left behind in the dust when COVID had struck. I finished most of my poems for Imagine This before the pandemic but when I had finished the book, I was unsure of what to do with it. I felt like self-publishing could cost a lot and didn't feel as though I could sell enough books to cover the cost. What if I invested too much in myself and didn't get it all back?
But as I researched more, I began to discover that there were ways I could get the formatting and cover design I needed done at a cheaper price than the 100s some people pay for the same things. I myself along with my parents and siblings did the edits for the book. I had a couple of Fiverr designers do the inside formatting and when the Fiverr designer I chose for the cover didn't work out, I designed my cover myself (with a little help from a friend to fix a minor issue when my free trial of adobe products ran out).
Finally, on December 8th, 2020, my book Imagine This: From Pain to Possibility was published.
But what was I supposed to do in the new year? My book was published. I had nothing more to work on...right??
Wrong. As 2021 hit, I finally decided to take back up the novel (or rather, novels considering that The Criminal is a part of a series) that I had left behind in the dust so long ago. I made a plan to have it rewritten and edited in time to begin working on The Beauty (book two) in NaNoWriMo 2021.
My goal was simple and easy. I really did not think I would be able to accomplish it any faster and, in the beginning, was struggling to get a few hundred words done each day. But eventually, I began to speed up, get excited about the book, create new goals, and push myself to get it done much, much sooner.
Which of course brings us to here and now.
I am now vaccinated and able to enter back into society (in fact I have been for a couple of months now). For the past month, I have been involved in an internship with my church's Jr. High team working towards my goal of being a youth leader (the goal that I went to college for). On the side, with The Criminal finished and edited, I have been working towards getting an agent for and publishing the book.
I believe that God uses everything for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). I don't believe that the pandemic was a good thing (it wasn't) but I do believe that God has used it to do amazing things in some of our lives. During the pandemic, I published a poetry anthology, wrote and edited a novel, raised a puppy, and made a t-shirt blanket (ok, so maybe that last one is kind of boring but I love that blanket!). The pandemic was terrible and my situation was horrible but that doesn't mean I cannot find the good that came out of it.
I wear a bracelet every day that says "God's got this." I believe those words with every fiber of my being. No matter the situation, no matter the pain, no matter how hopeless everything seems, God's got this. (You can find the bracelet, the story behind the makers of the bracelet, and other "God's got this" products here).
I challenge you to find the good in your pandemic experience. What did you make or create? What relationships were built or grown? What new amazing changes did you make to your life?
Take a moment today, just for a few minutes, read Romans 8:28 (and maybe Ps. 126:5), and just allow yourself to think of some of the ways that God has worked things for your good.