by Sean Stalvey

Quarantine. When you look at a word for long enough, that particular word begins to look foreign, or alien, to your brain. It’s an interesting phenomenon, but I believe the word quarantine is strange all on its own: it holds a certain weight with it, a level of stress and heaviness that you can’t really put your finger on but you know it’s there. At least, it does now. If you were to ask me a year ago what quarantine meant, I would have told you a brief definition of the word and that would have been the end of the conversation, but now I know that there is so much more that comes with the word quarantine than just isolation from others.

As for myself: I am a college student studying Mathematics, I have a fiancé, and I actually work at Broadway Church of Christ. Most of this academic year had been pretty normal, and when my professors announced that we would be transitioning to online classes for the remainder of the school year I didn’t think much of it. I’m a pretty big introvert, so I assumed everything would go just fine because we would still be able to communicate online and talk about our assignments and ask questions. My reality, however, was much different. I found that with online only courses it was much more difficult to keep up with due dates and to fully grasp and understand new concepts that were being taught. I say this second point because many times in my life both at work and at school, I have learned much from the questions that others have asked that I didn’t even know I needed the answer to. I even had a public speaking class where we were required to record our final speech online and upload it to the rest of the class for review. Thankfully that only took about 28 attempts before I had one that I was happy with.

The classes being online was only one issue that took its toll on me, and that was even something that could have been foreseen if I chose to think to the future. What I was not expecting from this quarantine was the actual isolation. I don’t mean that I didn’t know I would be alone in quarantine, but I didn’t realize how much contact with other people helped with my over-all well-being. Since I was isolated from everyone else in my classes that I normally see or talk with, I was more alone and in my head than I was prepared to be, and that definitely had an adverse effect on my mental health. With this happening, I turned to my close support group to help me through.

My closest family that I have are my Aunt and Uncle whom I live with here in Lubbock, and they have been supportive every step of the way not only through this quarantine but through my time in this city. I don’t reach out as much as I could, but knowing their support is there was a great boon during this time for me. My immediate family is actually in Virginia, and as of my writing this they are visiting for the week. Over the course of these last few months my calls home have been more and more frequent, and I believe both parties have reaped the benefits of those calls. They will continue far into the future. Here in Lubbock I also have a fiancé. She works a stressful job and has a lot on her own plate to deal with, but even during this time of trouble for me, she took the time, energy, and effort to stand by my side and lift me up when I needed it. I am so grateful to have her in my life.

The other part of my social circle is my professional life. As I mentioned above, I work at Broadway, and I can say that this has been a much different experience than any other I have had in the workplace. In most professional environments it is dangerous to become friends with your co-workers or superiors, but at Broadway we are all a team of people working together for the greater good.

There is no anger, hatred, or jealousy that takes place. There is no rivalry to be better than others. There is just a building to maintain and a Kingdom to uphold.

I work closely with Lee and our physical plant team as well as with Gary filming
and editing our content for the online environment that we have been using. I have had to learn new skills and adapt to the online transition just as many of you have had to do, and I am thankful that I had such a great group of support there with me.

I may have painted a picture for you about a great time in quarantine this year, but I assure you this was a difficult time for me. There were many days where I struggled to get out of bed, where I struggled to make it to work on time, and where, as I mentioned, I struggled to understand and grasp the new concepts that my professors were trying to teach me through their videos over the internet. Some days I slept the day away while others I felt like I could get out and do some work. My point in all of this is that I made it through. I made it through this extremely difficult time not because the strength of will that I have to do what I know I need to do, but because of the strength of will of others. All of these people I have talked about above, whether they know it or not, have helped lift me up in these past months. They have helped me push through and succeed in a time when I needed it the most.

Broadway has the mission of Pursue God, Build Community, and Unleash Compassion. During this quarantine I was doing none of those due to my mental health at the time, but as I look back, I believe that is okay. I say this because even though I was not Pursuing God, he was there for me. He put me on a path that collided with others in a way that he could show his love through them by lifting me up. The community that I am part of at Broadway has also solidified and drawn me in closer. There were days where I was so anxious, I could barely go to work, but as time has gone on those feelings have faded and I have been able to enjoy the job that I was sometimes afraid of. And the Compassion of those around me has grown and been more welcoming than ever.

So as I look back at this quarantine, at this time of isolation, as I think to the times where I was forced to isolate due to my fiancé’s work or an illness, as I think back to the transition to online classes from in person lectures, as I think back to learning new skills and existing in a world that has slowed to a halt, and as I think back to my life as a whole over these last few months, I can truly say this: It has been difficult, it has been stressful, I have hated many aspects of it, but it has been necessary. This global shutdown has helped me take stock of what is around me. It has helped me learn what is important in my life and what I unintentionally prize the most. It has helped me examine my relationships in a new light. It has helped me see how God has been working all along.

Though there will always be days of hardship, days of struggle, always look to the horizon. Because though that horizon may seem far away and hard to get to, there are always others that have been placed beside you to help you get there. God is Love, and Love is the connection that binds us together and pulls us forward to that horizon. I have stumbled, I have fallen, and I have dug into the dirt up to my neck, but my friends, my family, and my God have lifted me up when I needed it the most.

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