“Back to School!” These words sound a little different this September.
It seems like the list of things that COVID-19 has affected is inexhaustible, and naturally as we approach the beginning of another “year,” we find ourselves in a similar spot; looking out on a very unfamiliar landscape.
Whether school means pre-school, middle school, high school, or college, and whether you’re a student, teacher, or parent, there’s a really good chance this next season presents unique challenges and obstacles. There’s no doubt that the words “back to school,” raise different kinds of anxieties, uncertainties, and questions inside all of us—and perhaps with good reason. The school system, the government, and teachers have had to reinvent the wheel around methods that we’ve all relied on and have become comfortable with in the past. This goes beyond just what we see or read in the news and hear about from our neighbours—this affects the way students are going to learn, and the way parents are going to have to parent.
So, in this chaos, which has seemed to have robbed us of some of the joy and anticipation we would feel around this time, what do we do about the anxiety and the fluid expectations surrounding this school year?
We go deeper.
In this season, God has encouraged me to meditate on this idea: “when the winds get stronger, and the waves get bigger, learn to go deeper.”
I truly believe that with unique challenges, come unique opportunities. I don’t mean that in a cheesy, disingenuous, “get rich quick” kind of a way—I mean it in a, “there is something about trusting in God’s presence and promise during particular seasons of chaos and discomfort that breeds a resiliency and deep faith” kind of a way. I’m not ignorant, nor desire to be insensitive when it comes to the pain this season has caused for some, but I’m also not without hope.
COVID-19 might have forced us to change the way we do our back-to-school shopping, classroom orientation, and lesson plans, but it hasn’t changed anything about the way we can approach—or experience—relationship with our Heavenly Father. I think about the words Paul wrote to the church in Philippi:
“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petitions, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I encourage you to read those verses, three or four times, and to meditate on the promises of God in scripture, based on His loving/compassionate posture towards you and His never-changing character.
So yes, this school year looks different, but my conviction is that as we “go deeper;” in faith, community, and mission; that our students will develop a resiliency and hope that nothing, including a world-wide pandemic can steal.
With love, Peter Yoon
PS. In the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry, “Be kind, be calm, be safe.”