As the 2020 year comes to a close, we move closer and deeper into the Advent season, and amidst all the calamity surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, I introspect, taking a personal inventory of what I have to be jolly about.
First and foremost, I am thankful for my health and strength and for the health and strength of my wife and loved ones. I am also happy about being gainfully employed. Many of our family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and hundreds of thousands in this country alone, did not make it to this date. Again I think of the thousands of small businesses and individuals who have struggled during this time only to succumb to permanent loss of their businesses, loss of their jobs, homelessness and an unprecedented national crisis of hunger.
What else is there that we can be jolly about during this season in the Roanoke River Valley? Beyond the great attractions, shopping, restaurants and people in this area other amenities come to mind. These include our local hospital, Vidant North, committed to helping to keep our community healthy; and Halifax Community College, serving as the economic engine providing workforce training and education to hone the employment skills of local residents to keep them ready to meet the operational needs of business and industry. Additionally, many of the leaders in this area have embraced the fact that working together creates synergy that allows us to accomplish more much faster. So there is so much to be happy about and thankful for.
Despite the national tragedy of the pandemic and all its repercussions, collectively we can be thankful that we are still alive. That alone is a great blessing. Although it is hard to maintain that attitude throughout this perilous time, it is helpful to cultivate that outlook. Our happiness should not depend on our changing circumstances but on the one who never changes. If we focus on the reason for the season and understand and accept Jesus into our hearts, then His fruit will be manifested in our lives. Consequently, the characteristics that we will exhibit throughout our community will include love, joy, peace, kindness, meekness, gentleness and self-control. Experiencing the impact of that in our community is really something for which to be grateful.
Michael Elam is the president and CEO of Halifax Community College.