Coping with Loss and Overcoming Adversity
by Korinne Pina
Every student begins his or her educational experience with high hopes and a reasonable expectation to start, and eventually complete, a goal in education.
For some, it brings the possibility of career advancement, portfolio development, or greater earning potential. For others, it adds stability to maintain a current position. Yet for others, it provides a life-changing example for one’s children. Though the reasons greatly vary, the goal is still the same – completion.
There are many losses, however, that, if not dealt with properly, can be detrimental to completing the goal.
Having a realistic understanding that the hurts associated with a fallen world will not stop because we are pursuing our goals will aid in the endeavor of preparing for whatever lies ahead. It is important to recognize that difficulties are not a sign that the goal to achieve is not God’s plan! Developing a plan to address the unexpected gives you the advantage. It is our prayer that you not be so encumbered with grief and loss that you give up on your goals. God will empower you to overcome whatever adversity you may face, and in so doing, experience a deeper level of intimacy in Christ as you glorify Him by completing your goal!
- Prepare for the Inevitable & Stand By Your Initial Decision - Determine now, before storms arise that you will commit yourself to attaining the educational goal you set out to achieve! That way when the obstacles of life bar your path, you will not consider quitting or failure to be an option. Instead, you will look to God for a solution and will continue to seek Him for the strength to press forward, in spite of the adversity.
- Establish Your Academic Identity - Bereavement, procrastination, sickness and non-supportive family are just some of the obstacles that stand in the way of accomplishment. Nevertheless, resist the urge to drive through your classes on cruise control while your academic success slips gingerly past you!
Seize every opportunity to work ahead on assignments, use resources like the Online Writing Center or interactive tutoring when necessary, and take initiative to submit papers for preliminary review. Ensure success from the start by demonstrating that you are a serious and responsible student!
- Acknowledge Your Loss by Sharing Your Pain with God and Others – Sharing with God is obvious. By others, I mean those who are trustworthy and nonjudgmental. There is no shame in acknowledging loss. It can come in all forms like loss of time, loved ones, employment, dreams, etc. But it's imperative to find a competent and objective individual who can be a support to you in time of need.
Not only is it therapeutic, but if you ever fall into dire straits and need to substantiate a loss that interferes with academic performance, who will you turn to if you confided in and sought help from no one? Documentation could be required by a professor to grant an extension for assignments. The Financial Aid department requires sufficient documentation when reviewing financial aid suspension appeals. Never underestimate the value of sharing your circumstance!
- Consider the Benefits of Healthy Distractions – If used properly, healthy distractions can be beneficial! Healthy distractions are activities which don't lead to addictive or negative behaviors. Unhealthy distractions like misuse of the Internet, and drug and alcohol are definite offenders!
When loss prohibits you from coping, healthy distractions can make life bearable. In severe instances of loss, it may become necessary to negate some responsibilities in order to have the peace and time to heal. However, not all loss requires that level of sacrifice. Determine carefully if pressing forward with classes can serve as a healthy distraction, to prevent ruminating over the loss in self torture! Forging ahead with your academics is a healthy distraction that can preserve your sanity!
- Give Yourself Permission to Take Time to Heal - but here's the catch... do not go backwards!
We all heal from loss differently; therefore, no set time frame exists as the only standard. Though loss may delay your arrival, don't allow it to cancel your plans altogether! Illness may cause a flat tire that forces you to wait for medical circumstances to improve. Depleting motivation may result in a dead battery, and time off may help you recharge. The death of a loved one may cause a stalled engine that leaves you stranded on the side of the road. But you have not been deserted. If you trust God, he can and will guide you to your destination!
The complexities of the pain we endure in life reaches beyond human comprehension. Overcoming adversity then becomes as much a spiritual matter, as it is a natural one, because it deals with the heart.
We realize the unique needs of online students differ greatly compared to residential students. We want to help you maintain stability in your personal, professional and spiritual life in order to achieve success in your academics. To partner with you in in this endeavor, we offer prayer, encouragement and social involvement to provide reassurance that you are not alone! We invite you to access these resources by visiting www.libertyonlineministries.com and www.liberty.edu/reach.
We take very seriously our charge from God to love and care for the needs of each and every individual who entrusts us with his or her, education, finances and dreams. We hope to share in baring life’s burdens and offer hope in Christ to facilitate an environment where relationship with Him is paramount, and in Him, every single student’s goal of higher education can be achieved!
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