During one of our first virtual chapels of this pandemic season, two of my colleagues, Haley and Luke, introduced three simple but powerful questions to our campus community at Friends University: 1) What has the pandemic taken from us? 2) What has it not taken from us? 3) What has God given to us during this season?
With these questions, we are able to lament what has been lost, acknowledge our new reality, and recognize blessings and new opportunities. These questions, when given space to permeate our minds, hearts, and souls, may be used by God to provide us with a healthy and helpful framework for persisting through this.
What has the pandemic taken from us?
What an incredible season of disruption, disorientation, and loss. Globally, we have lost lives, jobs, and a collective sense of normalcy. At the campus and individual level, we lost a spring (and possibly more) on campus, which meant the loss of things like face-to-face time with friends and faculty; spring sport seasons and fine arts performances; and a great many “lasts” for our graduating seniors, including their spring graduation ceremony.
As these losses began to pile up, they also followed us home; even in the best of scenarios, there was still change and loss to mourn. Though my kids initially celebrated being able to sleep in, they quickly felt the forfeiture of close connections with friends. They also missed out on the spring sport season.
It’s necessary to lament in the midst of our pain and confusion. The Bible is riddled with examples of lament; they serve as reminders, even permission, to express our grievances and pain to God.
What has it not taken from us?
Every family has experienced this pandemic in different ways, but there are still pieces of a pre-COVID-19 way of life that remain. Can we see through the pain of loss enough to notice these important items? Identifying what we have not lost, I believe, is just as important for us as recognizing what has been lost.
For me, it was important to understand and acknowledge that much of my loss came in the form of inconveniences. I still have my family. I still have my job. I still have my home. I still have my health. I recognize my losses were minor, not major.
I know this is not everyone’s story. But it’s my story (at least as of this writing in mid-summer), and that is something tangible I can hold on to.
What has God given to us during this season?
While much less obvious in the midst of our current disorientation, I believe God is providing each of us with blessings of some shape or form. God is aware of our situation — and hurts with us. Yet in the midst of the pain, I believe there are hidden blessings, if only we have eyes to see them.
For example, this time of disruption has given me an abnormally large amount of time with my family. Time with all seven of us in the same place had become a rarity outside of family vacations. Additionally, the open time in my calendar provided space that has sparked some creativity and innovation within that likely would not have found place amidst the rhythms and routines that had previously been shaping my life.
As we consider these three questions, we see that there are layers and layers to uncover. But I believe that as we provide the time and the space for the Holy Spirit to work in us through reflecting on these questions, we will have new eyes to see, even as we continue serving.
Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Campus Ministries at Friends University