Now more than ever, being in community is so important. What do I mean by community? I mean an inner circle of people you can truly rely on. We are in a time where so many of us are isolated, alone many hours of the day, and have been living in a year of true uncertainty. What I have found is in my down time and when the thoughts that creep in making you feel alone, finding these communities and people have elevated me to a place I could have never predicted. God is good all the time.

Similar to “My Why?”, these communities have inspired me and brought true joy to my life that I cannot thank God enough for. These communities come from all over too, not just one area. So first, a community I never would have had if it wasn’t for COVID, huge shout out to my Taco Dirty crew. When I began working there during the peak of quarantine (ironically on my 21st birthday) I was just ready for a source of income. I was very sad and down over a vast amount of things going on in my life and just needed a distraction. What I got instead was not just an amazing workplace, but friends. And when you hear that you may just assume the idea of “work friends.” That would be the wrong assumption. I genuinely love these people and view them as my best friends. I miss them everyday, but I love being able to have us all working hard and reconnecting (basically every week) and just enjoying each others company. Without COVID-19, I don’t meet a single one of them. God uses anything and everything, even when we do not understand it.

Once making the move to Orlando and leaving the community in Tampa, I have gotten to find community in Elevation Church Orlando. The staff, our volunteer crew, and my e-Group have been such a boost of every week. It is not an easy adjustment moving during a pandemic and meeting new people. Having found not just a church but a home at Elevation, I am extremely excited to continue to help this church and the Orlando community.

Why I am in Orlando is my graduate program and now have a community of 21 new classmates and even more people who are apart of the program. When at moments questioning why I am here in this program and in Orlando, God continues to show up and telling me to trust in him. My professors and my mentor have already challenged me in ways to help grow and elevate where I am trying to take my career. They have not been easy, but just the people the have introduced me too have made me so much better. The people they are is much more important than their position, and I have had conversations with some AMAZING individuals. Without being here in this specific program, none of those conversations and relationships would be possible.

During quarantine having life slow down and more free time than I knew what to do with, calling those away from my local area was so valuable. I have missed my best friends scattered across the globe (England, Fort Lauderdale, Florida State, UF) it is not always easy to take time to just “catch up.” With nothing else to do catching up became a daily or weekly routine that has now stuck through past the quarantine period. No matter how close or how far, speaking everyday vs. speaking every couple months, the love we have for one another is something that can’t even be expressed in words. I love y’all, you know who you are ;)

And finally, HUGE shoutout to the Bible Study crew! From a happy hour for the first time in forever to now an everyday conversation about how were feeling and what God’s word has to say for our lives, it truly is so comforting. And to the soon 4th study buddy, YOU ARE DOING GREAT! I know you’re new to all this but day by day we’re progressing. Our friendship gets stronger each day despite me moving from Tampa and have been a huge answered prayer seeing your growth and continued success.

All of these people, places, and groups have been unexpected from the beginning, but lifesaving is probably the best adjatiave I can use to describe them. Find yourself communities that are going to help push you forward, develop you, and love you for who you are. I have been blessed to have each one of these in my life and excited to see them blossom and continue to grow each and every day.

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24–25

Graduate Assistant for The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), pursuit of the the NBA, and being who God called me to be