I find it very hard to believe that it has been nearly six months since the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed on March 6 here in Kentucky. I attended youth group on March 11 and vowed that I would start attending Wednesday night service regularly, something I had not done since my move to Menifee County roughly three years ago. The following Saturday, I met my cousin Rheagan in Lexington and my church youth group attended Winter Jam at Rupp Arena. As I reflect on that period of time, my entire body feels numb. I had no idea that our world would be entirely different just a half-year later. Even if I had known, how would I have prepared myself? 

Here we are now. Our society has changed so greatly but COVID-19 is not the only thing contributing to the difference between now and then. The tensions between Democrats and Republicans have reached an all-time high and cooperation does not appear to be a matter of importance; individuals are feeling the pain of bigotry, hatred, and systemic racism in the wake of the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the shooting and partial paralyzation of Jacob Blake; the family members of our local law enforcement are concerned that their loved one will not return home after a shift of serving our community; among other situations.

To put it simply, there are a lot of pressing issues weighing heavy on my mind. I worry about people – of all political backgrounds, of all races, and of all occupations – because I know that this world is full of unnecessary hatred and violence. To the world, being from Eastern Kentucky is viewed as a negative thing. However, I consider being nestled deep in these Appalachian Mountains a privilege. Our area is significantly different than that of most cities; the gap between people of all backgrounds does not feel as evident here as it does in other areas. I have witnessed the love that members of our community have for one another, regardless of what demographic one might belong to. That does not, by any means, discredit the fact that there are people in our community who do hold tight to bias; however, I believe that love has the power to break through those barriers as it does in other geographical locations, too.

I do not want to write this column and pretend that I am some perfect human being. I log on to my social media accounts and I immediately feel upset. A post pops up that I just utterly disagree with... and I type out a comment (and sometimes post it) before I even think about the long-term impact of my statement. Many of these comments contribute to division rather than discourse, so I almost always choose to erase the statement. I have made a greater effort to analyze posts (and the person who posts) from a psychological perspective. Why do people believe the way that they do? Well, I am not sure. I do know, though, people grow even more deeply rooted in their beliefs when they feel like their beliefs are being challenged. This is one large reason why division is continuing to grow across our country. May we all remember that what unites us is much greater than what divides us and, whether we are alt-right or alt-left, we can find common ground.

This past Sunday, I listened to two messages at church. One of those messages emphasized the importance of praying for people around you – including people your age, people younger than you, people with different beliefs than you, people that do not share physical features with you, and so on – and I left the building ready to take on the world through prayer. As I have mentioned throughout this article, our world is experiencing such a disturbing time, and the past six months have brought about great change. Regardless of that, though, Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  We are united together, as people, through God, and we can continue to cling tight to the promises outlined in the Holy Bible. No matter how difficult circumstances become, we are children of God. 

I love you and I am praying for you. May God bless you.

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