Three Ways to Bounce Back into Action: A COVID Journey

By Dr. Ethel Canty Bothuel  October 1, 2020

We did not see this coming!  In January 2020, we began executing plans, preparing sermons, contacting clients, putting dates on calendars.

Then Wham! – the pandemic.

Our lives were shut down. Our churches, our businesses and our economy were “CLOSED until further notice.”  Why?  Paraphrasing scientists and disease control experts, we shut down to reduce the spread, while we figured out how to test and trace.  Some thought the virus would not last long.  Now eight months later the virus is still uncontrolled, and our plans are gone or on hold.

So, here we are, no in-person contacts allowed. Sermons are preached to empty churches, maybe with audience headshots on a screen. Technology hustled to find the bandwidth to handle thousands of virtual meetings. Many church consultants are stuck with a new reality, having to regroup, relearn, relinquish our plans. I don’t know about you, but my excitement about my work fizzled.  I knew something had to be done and, on some level, I knew what had to be done, yet I was so unsettled, I shut down emotionally and intellectually.

Then I remembered the old song, “Pick Yourself Up” sung by Nate King Cole, Frank Sinatra and others.

Now nothing’s impossible, I’ve found for when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.

This is my story.  I needed to pick myself up, bounce back, and get the work done that I was so excited about when I walked away from my church job of 17 years. With no exit strategy in my mind, I was a mess! So, this blog is not about something I read about; it is part of my story and it shows that I will not be defeated.

Am I alone in this?  I didn’t think so.  Is there a remedy, you ask?  Yes – thank God, there are remedies!  These three remedies below are part of what I call my “bounce back” solution. They are not the only remedies, but I found they are absolutely the first steps to starting again.  I recommend them for anyone who, like me, needs to bounce back into action:

  1. Remember Who is in Control. My faith in God is tested during this time. One day during meditation, I was reminded that the only person I can control is me and God is in control of situations external to me.  Therefore, I am inspired, renewed and realigned to do the work because God is in control.
  2. Read! Read! Read! Thank God for Google.  And books are still available to us, too.  We can find so much good information on any number of topics in many disciplines using the Internet (of course, be aware of the bad information you might come across). Since public libraries have not reopened, we can re-visit our home libraries. Determine what you want to know more about and become an expert while we have this time on our hands.
  3. Reach Out to Your Audiences. This is a great time to update email lists, increase our social media contacts, and make prospect lists.  Who would you like to reach?  If you were able to have face-to-face consults, what churches or organizations would you put on a list?  Perhaps you would like to do post-pandemic travel. The people you will contact during your travel locations can go on your list too. Send them a note once a month to let them know you are there to help.

Is bouncing back easy?  I wish I could say yes. But, bouncing back is necessary and possible, and it is a journey.

As we continue our journey, let’s take time to expose some sunshine through the dark clouds. Children have become pen pals with previously unknown nursing home residents. Teenagers have delivered groceries to their vulnerable neighbors. Musicians have given virtual concerts. The air quality has become cleaner throughout the earth. Congregations have found new ways to stay connected.  People have had time to enjoy the simpler things in life and catch up on long-forgotten to-do lists. Businesses have increased their capacity for creative thinking.

We will get through this.  I believe it.  Hope you do too!

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