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Thoughts on a Hopeful New Normal: Overcoming Isolation, Together

By Stefanie Marsden, TPF Relationship Manager

I’m Stefanie Marsden, professional extrovert. I thrive on building relationships with colleagues, friends and family. The past two months have been an exercise in isolation that I never dreamed could be possible. As a married Gen X mom of two boys, until March 16th my life was a bustling beehive of activity. I travel often as part of TPF’s efforts to support our partners, so I’m used to managing a calendar filled with activities and people. Then suddenly, and unbelievably, life came to a screeching halt. Like others in my generation, I pride myself on being independent, resourceful, and self-sufficient. Need to set up a Donor Advised Fund? I can help. Need a volunteer for youth breakfast? I’m your Mom. Oh, you’re hungry? Just give me five minutes, and we can fix that.

Who could have imagined I would go from worrying about airport arrival times and getting my boys to school to worrying about the health of everyone I love and washing our hands every five minutes. Full disclosure, this has not been an easy time for me. I’ve learned a few things. First, I’m not a fan of sheltering in place. We do it. But I don’t like it. I NEED PEOPLE. Next, God did not intend for me to be a teacher. But I’m thankful he blessed others with those gifts. Also, uncertainty is going to be part of our lives for a while. My boys are anxious about what summer will bring, and I’m concerned about when I will get to meet face-to-face with our partners again. One more thing! While it’s true that online church in pajamas can be fun, I truly miss my greetings before Sunday School and actually being with my church family.

Now, I also think that we MUST talk about the positive pieces of this isolation. For me, increased family time has been a true blessing. We’ve had the time to take longs walks, have meaningful conversations, and many family dinners. Also, I know more than ever before that technology is awesome. I currently depend on it to not only do my job, but to help me entertain and teach my kids. I’ve been astounded by the effectiveness of Zoom calls and FaceTime as we’ve been isolating at home. And finally, this pandemic has only renewed my dedication to reaching out to others to change lives through mission. In this situation, it remains at the forefront of my every thought. There are so many opportunities to help others!

You might be wondering, how is this extrovert surviving, or even thriving right now? While I am not able to meet with people in person, I am in touch with partners via email, phone, and Zoom.  I wake up each day focused on what I can do, and I try not to lament these current limitations. Thank goodness TPF’s technology team has made it possible to stay in touch with you all.

As the nation slowly begins to re-open, I am hopeful that I will be able to see you all in person soon!

May the peace of Christ be with you.