This can be a difficult time of year for some, and those feelings of loneliness and depression can grow during a pandemic.
Tim Pippus, who has been the pastor at the Estevan Church of Christ for more than 30 years, said counselling people has occupied a lot of his time recently. Just before he did the interview with the Mercury last week, he was talking to someone dealing with new adjustments and loneliness.
“There’s all kinds of people who don’t know what the next few days will look like, or what they’re facing. And it’s starting to get to people,” he said.
During the first six months or so of the pandemic, the people he encountered were mostly doing pretty well. But now the restrictions are leaving them weary.
“Winter is always a little bit that way. We do less and we’re inside more, so I think people slow down,” said Pippus. “Winter is always hard for some people. And then again, Christmas is always hard for some people, and now everybody is isolated and we can’t see each other.”
He might get a handful of calls around Christmas time each year, but those numbers have surged in 2020.
“I would say that’s 10 times higher than normal right now, and I’ve had just random people call me out of the blue, because they read my newspaper article and need someone to talk to. People I don’t even know will call and chat these days,” he said.
It’s a trend that other pastors in town have experienced. Outside of providing online services, the largest share of what they’re doing right now has been supporting, praying for and checking in on people.
When he’s been meeting with people, he’s been encouraging them keep reaching out to others for help.
“There’s always someone to reach out to,” said Pippus. “I’ve been trying to highlight positive things. It’s so easy for us to focus on just what’s negative, so I’ve made it my goal to highlight positive things in almost everything I talk about.”
A daily video series he sends out to church members includes positive thoughts and blessings.
Pippus said he wants to continue to give people hope, and he wants them to remember they have come through this so far. Sometimes, it’s best just to listen.
At Christmas time, it’s easier to share that message of hope. And there’s the excitement associated with a new year.
“Hopefully that does help boost people’s morale, and they start thinking and dreaming about things. New years are always a good time, and Christmas is about hope, obviously, so we talk about that as well.”
Pippus said he has not had anyone respond poorly. Sometimes he needs someone to reframe things during a difficult time to help him feel better about a situation.
“Sometimes all we need is someone just to give us a different perspective, or remind us of something good. Everyone I’ve talked to has seemingly gone away feeling better, and the fact that they keep coming backing and wanting to chat some more would indicate they have found something positive.”