Written By: Katie Gowan


After finishing two years of high school primarily via Zoom, I dreaded the next time I would awkwardly have to tell someone they were on mute. And when I was offered a virtual internship for the summer, I can honestly say that I was a little reserved in moving forward. However, per usual, I can now report back that, regardless of my reservations or preconceived notions about a virtual work environment, His plans for me with this Edify internship were perfect, as always.


Upon joining my first call with Edify in early May, the thing that caught my attention was that amidst the smiling faces and kind introductions, nearly every person had their background blurred. I knew this was an option, but throughout my experience on video calls in the past, it had never been so prominent. About a month into the summer, it finally dawned on me why this seemed so interesting. During the peak of COVID-19, when communication was only through technology, I came to love the element of subtle informality that came with video calls from home. A glimpse into the home office or dining room of a teacher or classmate I’d known for years added another facet to my understanding of who they are.


So, in the same way, as I continued to join calls with Edify staff, my understanding and care for people I’d only ever known through a screen grew tremendously. This care also grew through conversations and prayer, but lapses in those blurred backgrounds revealed the faces of sweet kiddos or tails of curious cats that helped me understand each person. On a larger scale, this idea of the blurred background applies to each individual who enters our lives. Whether they are a new coworker who’s getting acclimated to Zoom or a community member who is facing financial challenges, we only see what is deemed to be in the foreground. Behind their blurred background, however, maybe what you find is dirty laundry (maybe both literally and figuratively), as well as the bumps and turns in the road that got them to where they are today.


This summer, we read through Generous Justice by Tim Keller and When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett. Each of these books strongly emphasizes meeting people where they are and building relationships first. I could write a lengthy list of my takeaways. Still, the two I will never forget are to meet each person from a place of humility and to remember that we are each living in some form of poverty, whether it be material, social, or spiritual. When Helping Hurts says this best, “Every human being is suffering from a poverty of spiritual intimacy, a poverty of being, a poverty of community, and a poverty of stewardship” When Helping Hurts, pg. 59). As Christ-followers, we are called to welcome people for who they are and love them well regardless of what is beyond their blurred background. And more importantly, we must be willing to let people see beyond our own blurred backgrounds in life.