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Faith Matters: The toughest year yet – why my faith gives me hope

It is not a secret to anyone that 2020 has been one of the roughest, most challenging years for many reasons. It has been a whirlwind of mask wearing, social distancing, temperature screenings, and many other small things that all add up over time.

For many, it has become a time of reflection, realizing the things that are important in our lives like family, friends, and safety. For others, it has been a time of isolation and internal strife.

For me and my family, it has become one of mourning and grief. On March 31, my older brother took his own life and, amidst the sorrow, my grandfather died just a few months later in July. Writing the words now almost seems surreal, as if I am in another time and in another world; I often have to remind myself that I am in the here and now.

I write this, not to add to your sadness, but to give you my perspective and my hope. Many of you are going through your own struggles, your own pain; I do not think of pain as a spectrum. Money struggles, everyday stressors, safety worries, etc. are all equally capable of weighing on your soul and causing great harm. I know that my family’s recent losses both weigh on my own soul.

Despite all of this, I have hope: Hope for a country struggling with division and strife to come together, hope for those struggling with COVID to come out with a new appreciation for the things and people in their lives and, most importantly, hope for a brighter future where we will set aside our differences and love one another as they are.

God gives me that hope, which strengthens me even in my struggles.

I know that this does not happen right away. Whenever I talk to people about what happened during my summer 2020, I start off by telling them that I’m doing alright, but “some days are better than others.”

I often need to be reminded by people that “it’s OK not to be OK.” There are days where I get up and feel a deep sadness that hangs like a cloud throughout the day. Other days, I feel settled and content, ready to tackle whatever comes my way. Many of you may be feeling the same way, but I’ll tell you what others tell me: “It is OK not to be OK.”

Whenever a bad day comes around, I rely on God to get me through and carry the weight of my pain, and I remind myself that the days will not always be this way. Soon, the pain of loss will turn into memories of joyful times.

Soon, COVID will be part of a history book, teaching future generations how to deal with pandemics. There is hope and our hope is God.

I do not know who needs to hear this right now, but while everything might feel unbearable at times, but it will be ok again. God is with you and sees your pain. Trust Him to help you through it.

Brittany Halbleib, student at Lycoming College, member of United Churches Social Concerns, and a member at Geyers United Methodist Church, Middletown.

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