Director of College Counseling Jodi Foxx is auditing two classes through Calvin University this summer that address a response to COVID-19. They are called "The Changing Dynamics of Life for Generations X, Y and Z" and "Praying the Psalms in Ministry.” Below is a blog she shared summarizing what she is learning in her classes.
Have you ever driven through a tunnel and emerged in a completely different landscape? Perhaps it was on the Blue Ridge Parkway or in the Rocky Mountains; my personal favorite of the tunnels I’ve driven through is the mile-long Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel in Zion National Park. The experience of leaving a tunnel is always exciting to me. I love the feeling of darkness turning into light, seeing the glimmer of light get brighter and brighter until finally full sunlight shines down and the marvel of a new landscape welcomes. The best tunnels are, of course, those with the most dramatic change.
Well, my friends, we’ve been in the figurative tunnel of the COVID-19 quarantine for a few months now and we’re finally starting to see the glimmer of light! Our new landscape is slowly being revealed.
I think many of us recognize this tunnel experience as a strong wake-up call for re-evaluating our routines and instituting change as needed. If nothing else, we can already see change stirring in the social issues being addressed in our country. That change alone is sweeping and powerful.
But what about the changes we’ll experience on a smaller scale? We might call them micro-changes, the changes in our hearts and routines and perspective that have the power to become macro-changes as time unfolds. Have you considered who you would like to be when we’re fully out of the tunnel and living in our new landscape?
I ask this question with the understanding that upper school students and their parents are all within 1-2 years of fairly major changes anyways, with or without COVID-19. We have our underclassmen who are anticipating the adjustment to upper school or who have just completed their first steps in that adjustment. And we have our upperclassmen who are anticipating the transition to college and are in various stages of researching their options. And, of course, we have our recent graduates who are currently in a brief limbo as they move from CCS to college. The parents of all our students are more than just along for the ride; they too are experiencing transitions as the life of their family and the routine of parenting changes.
And then we threw in a pandemic just to make it all more interesting!
Successfully navigating a period of transition, whether or not it was caused by a pandemic, requires dependence upon God. We must actively listen for his voice and seek his direction, then take steps to act accordingly, which sometimes involves a leap of faith. It’s a big, all-encompassing task at times.
So, before we fully emerge in the bright sunlight and take complete stock of our new landscape, may I suggest some questions to reflect upon about who you hope to be in our new land? These questions are for students and parents alike. Find some quiet time to reflect, and perhaps join together in a family conversation to compare answers and discuss.
1. What have you missed the most during quarantine?
Your answers probably center around people, places or experiences that are dear to you. There’s a good chance you didn’t realize just how dear they are to you until you had to go without. To what extent have you lamented these losses? Do you have remaining work to be done in bringing your disappointments to God and asking the perhaps unanswerable questions? If so, that work is an important first step.
When we emerge from our tunnel, what will you do to reconnect with those people, places and experiences that you’ve missed? And how will you treat them differently in recognition of their newly appreciated dearness?
Perhaps your answers also involve feelings. At times, you might have missed feeling safe, secure or carefree. How can those feelings be recaptured now? Was the original source of those feelings a reliable one? Should you seek out a more reliable source? Of course, you know I’m going to point you to the most reliable source of all that is good – God.
2. How do you define and experience community?
The answer to this question will likely vary according to your age; different generations define and experience community differently. Some define community as a lifelong group to which they belong and others see community as something that shifts over time through different life stages. Also, some can experience community best when they are physically together, whereas others can find community through technology that doesn’t require being together in either time or physical space.
No matter how you define or experience community, I bet you’ve gained a greater appreciation for the importance of community. As you consider who you’d like to be in our new landscape, how can you deepen and enhance your sense of community moving forward? Are there new groups to which you would like to connect in building community? Do you want to interact differently in the groups to which you already belong? Is your method of experiencing a community working for you – is it fulfilling? Or is there still a void to be filled?
3. What role does church play in your life?
Attending a church service sure feels different when it’s online. Has your church routine during the COVID-19 quarantine changed for the better or the worse? Have you shifted the ways in which you offer praise and gratitude to God? Have you been able to continue deepening your knowledge and understanding of God, through sermons or other means?
Have you discovered that church is about more than just Sunday services? Perhaps you’ve still been able to minister to others, either through acts of service or helping them understand who God is. Your definition of church might have expanded.
What role do you want church to play in your life moving forward?
4. What have you determined to be truly significant?
We have discovered that some things which once seemed so vital are in fact insignificant. And we have discovered other things to be truly significant. How has your definition changed of which things carry significance?
Has your sense of purpose shifted? If so, how? And what adjustments to your routine are now necessary to act on your newly understood sense of purpose?
As we all emerge from this tunnel, we’ll return to the already in-progress natural transitions of entering and leaving high school. Wrestling with the questions listed above and seeking to gain greater meaning from our recent experiences will go a long way towards navigating the transitions to and from high school with grace and wisdom. May your family find peace as you seek God’s wisdom and direction.
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12
Director of College Counseling