An Opportunity to Surrender: A Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.

Psalm 62:8

I first heard about the Coronavirus in class on the first day of the spring semester. I thought it would be just another illness that would become another current event hot topic. I assumed that it would be just another Swine Flu, Ebola, or Zika Virus, and in many ways it is. Coronavirus, or at least the media’s hype about it, will come and go. Unfortunately, right now we’re in the thick of it and it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We know that this too shall pass, but for now we’re caught up in the uncertainty and fear.

 An Opportunity to Surrender: A Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Going into my last semester of college, I never imagined that a pandemic would affect my life so much–without even getting infected by it! In the middle of my spring break, I received an email from my university’s president saying we won’t be returning to campus (or normalcy) any time soon. Like many universities, Slippery Rock has postponed all classes until March 30th. The faculty will have to decide how classes will continue by then, and they’ll most likely be online. I’m grateful that this semester will be condensed, not extended, but I still feel like I’m losing valuable time from my last few months of college.

Along with a few other senior dance majors, I was accepted to present my capstone research paper at NCUR, a national research conference for undergraduate students. I was looking forward to going to Montana State University and sharing my capstone research project on Martha Graham’s aesthetic shift. As a passionate aspiring dance historian, I poured my heart into researching since I began my bibliography in July. The same day that I got the email informing me that SRU’s classes will be postponed, I received an email from NCUR with the subject “NCUR 2020 Cancelled.” I was devastated. I was looking forward to NCUR as the last “big thing” that I’d do before I graduated. I’ll never be able to get this once in a lifetime opportunity back, and I’m so frustrated that it was taken away from me. I’m left with holding onto a sliver of hope that my other future plans won’t get cancelled.

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Just after midnight on New Year’s Eve, the word surrender entered my heart and refused to leave. I realize more clearly every day that surrender is my word of the year for a reason. I’ve been learning to surrender all that I am and all that I have to God. This has been my prayer since day one of 2020, and God has constantly been challenging me to keep that promise. He’s been pushing me to surrender more than I thought I could handle, and when I think I’ve surrendered enough, he shows me how much deeper I can go. I learned to forsake control, anxiety, and fear in exchange for trust in God’s plan and timing and the peace that only he can give.

Losing weeks of school and presenting at a national conference is just another call to surrender, to sacrifice, and to grow. I’ll be honest with you and say that this one hurts. It’s breaking me to lose classes, opportunities, and experiences, and I’m so frustrated and disappointed. This surrender is a big one, but I trust that it’s necessary.

I think it’s fitting that this is happening while I’m doing Fiat 90, the 90-day detachment challenge that calls college girls to live in the world and not of it. I can’t help but remember the meaning of that beautiful Latin word, fiat: “let it be done.” Mary gave her fiat and surrendered her will for God’s will, and although I’ll never surrender as perfectly as Mary did, I can strive. With Mary’s help, I’m doing my best to humbly surrender at this time. I surrender not to the Coronavirus, but to my Heavenly Father so that his will can be done. Needless to say, this is super hard, so please remember me in your prayers and know that you’ll be in mine.

Stay radiant!

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