Comfort for the college senior who envisioned their 2020 differently – Jenna’s Journal

As college students across the country are settling into a new normal ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are finding tiny joys in our new routines, catching up on hours-long conversations with our moms and finally cracking open that novel that we never had time to read.

This health crisis has affected everyone differently. But for every one of us, as we sit in our homes and watch the economy suffer, see loved ones lose their jobs and hear of the death toll climbing, all we can do is sit and wait … and think of the way we thought this year would go.

For seniors, this reality carries a different kind of weight. We left for spring break anticipating finishing the semester strong and walking across the stage at our graduation in May. But instead, day by day we’re learning to open our hands and let our expectations slip away.

Our thoughts drift to friends that we may never see again. An overseas trip that was canceled. A dear friend’s wedding that was postponed. Fans who will not feel the exhilaration of a win again this season. Players who will bow out of their senior year without having one more shot at an NCAA title.

We feel a pinch of guilt as we evaluate our situation. People are dying. Why in the world are we so sad over something so insignificant?

The truth is, we understand that others have it so much worse than we do — but we still feel sad. 

While we miss the sweet times of a typical college life, we also mourn the loss of something far more tragic. We mourn the loss of what we hoped God would do in those final eight weeks of our senior spring semester.

The doors we were praying for him to open in our future seemed to suddenly slam shut, and we wondered if our dreams were even God’s plan after all.

I was excited to see God open those last-minute doors–perhaps a little too excited. During the quiet moments in quarantine, I scoured my life for idols that I had placed above my relationship with God. 

Valuing God’s gifts more than God seemed the likeliest culprit responsible for the pain. Maybe if I had kept things in perspective, these disappointments would sting a little less.

Why do we place hope in God’s gifts, rather than clinging to God alone to fulfill us? After all, God is perfect, his gifts are not. While that is true, why then does it hurt so much when we suddenly lose a job opportunity, weekly heart-to-hearts with a best friend at school or an international trip?

Because it feels as though we lost a piece of God in the process. A tangible, breathable piece of his goodness just vanished. We feel cheated out of an opportunity to see just how far God wants to take us, because he has already brought us so far. For many of us, God’s gifts are not idols—they are testimony. 

While God offers us physical reminders of his goodness, he offers us something far greater: his presence. When Jesus ascended into heaven, he gave one of the sweetest promises that I’ve been holding onto these past few weeks, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:20 ESV). 

Dear senior, it is okay to be sad. It is okay to mourn the sudden loss of God’s gifts in your life. It is not selfish to wish you had one more coffee date with your friend. It is not worldly to wish you had been able to go on that trip or cheer on your team one more time.

As you reflect on all you lost, remember the precious pieces of God’s goodness that you received during your college years. Think of all those dear friends and fun memories that you will never forget. As your college career comes to a close, a new chapter filled with renewed dreams is just beginning. Because not even a pandemic can stop God’s plans for you. 

Jenna Crenshaw is the Feature editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter @Jenna_mCrenshaw

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