By Corinne Henske

As of this month, I’ve been sitting at the Admin Office desk for 5 years! I know, right? Quite honestly, it feels like I’ve been here much longer – it just feels like home. It’s been the most rewarding position in all my 40+ years of working in an office. Most of those years were working for the government – 15 at the first office (always thought I would retire there – funny how life works), 5 at the second office, and 12 at the last office. And I have to say, these past 5 have been THE best! You see, to me, this really isn’t a job (technically I am retired) – I’m just hanging out with friends, doing what I do best, and giving back to God.

And as I look back and reflect over these past five years, I’ve seen a few office practices change (which is inevitable) and there’s always the continual ‘learn to adapt’ challenge (and at my age, simple things can be a challenge), but I have to say, the past two years stand out the most. Why? Hmmm, could it be because it wasn’t normal?! Or maybe, because it wasn’t normal, it taught me something unexpected.

When this whole pandemic thing started, and the church building closed, I thought it would only last a few months at best. Working from home was a bit of a challenge for me because most of what I do is inside that computer on my desk. I felt I needed to be there, so I opted to come into the office a few mornings a week to take care of the necessities. The building was empty and quiet, except for Charles – who was a happy camper having the whole church building to himself to work on his big maintenance projects!

Going through months of only seeing faces via Zoom was no longer cutting it - I needed that personal connection.

I’ve always considered myself a loaner – I’m quite content to be on my own, doing my own thing, enjoying the quiet – so in my mind, this transition was going to be easy-peasy! I could really focus while at the office, and when at home, I’d practice more yoga, spend quality time with Jesus, read more, knit a blanket, and you know, fill time with ‘stuff’. On one hand I embraced it, but on the other hand I felt guilty for not being at the office more. And, I must tell you, it didn’t take long before I realized how much I missed people. I mean, I really missed my people!

As time moved on, and the building started to open up a bit, and staff were returning, I started to feel better! Going through months of only seeing faces via Zoom was no longer cutting it – I needed that personal connection. I work with such a great team – whom over the years have become dear friends – that when we weren’t all together, I felt disconnected. So even behind the masks, knowing they were in the building and hearing their footsteps down the hall, made the days better. I knew this phase would be for a while, but that was okay, we were here, together!

Fast forward a few more months… okay, now we were entering into what some referred to as our ‘new normal’ (I wasn’t sure how I felt about that). The staff were all getting used to that ‘pivot’ thing… or were we just getting good at it? My days were back to full time at the office and I felt useful, and productive again. But it was still different – and still relatively quiet. I had a plexiglass barrier in front of my desk. Very few people actually came into the office, and when they did, they were wearing their mask (whose face was that?!). The highlight of my day was when a face I hadn’t seen in a while, stepped into my office and was willing to stay for a bit. I didn’t want them to leave. I would try to engage in conversation (or share pictures of my new granddaughter) for a familiar – and much needed – connection. I missed that.

But encourage one another every day, as long as it is still called “today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Now, here we are, two years later and everything seems to be back to normal – well, a more normal normal at least. And the best part? Connections. People are slowly starting to return to church because we all need those real, personal connections. The past two years have shown me that these are crucial. Like I mentioned earlier… I’m an introvert who is typically fine with being on her own. But I must admit, this introvert has realized just how much she needs people around. But not just any people – the people of this church. Wonderful people who have the gift to encourage, inspire, nurture, and to draw me even closer to God. Yep, this isn’t just a job to me – it’s a place where my family come to be together.

I’ve recently become a fan of Jenny Allen’s ‘Made For This’ Podcast – and over the past few months I’ve listened to her new series titled ‘Find your People’ – it was very enlightening, and encouraging! She clearly points out that God made us to be in community with people – and she reminds us that in Hebrews 3:13 it says God’s plan for community is to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today”. Yes! We all need to do just that. If you listen to podcasts, I encourage you to check it out.

You may still see me standing on the sidelines in a crowded foyer on a Sunday morning, but believe me, my heart is smiling BIG time as I watch people connecting, laughing, hugging, sharing life and love with each other – once again. Drop by the office some time and say Hello… I’d love to chat, and of course share pictures of my sweet granddaughter.

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