And Then COVID Changed Everything

I was nervous as I entered the building and surveyed the room filled with people chatting and settling in. I was tired and it was only the fifth week of the semester. I teach a 4/4 load and have a three-year-old daughter at home. I am her primary caretaker after half-day preschool. I shrugged off my coat and battled the mental fatigue threatening to distract me.

The truth is that it is hard to commit to good things on nights and weekends, even to a conference like this for Christian faculty.

Within the first hour, I was refreshed and encouraged. These “strangers” were also family members, seeking to serve God in their roles and to bring the gospel into their interactions with students and colleagues.

As the weekend progressed, I felt conflicted. Story after story of meeting with students one-on-one and departmental Bible studies left me feeling the weight of carrying a heavy teaching load, serving in our church and community, caring for my family and not having any extra time to spend on campus to be available for these unique moments of connection and vitality. 

I recognized my calling to be light and salt at the University of Georgia, in a prestigious program, but at this moment I felt limited by my first calling – to love and care for my family. In this season, that calling means cutting out everything “extra.”

This conflicted feeling followed me home. My desire to love my colleagues and invest more deeply in students was good, but it would have to wait.

And then Covid-19 changed everything. Suddenly our entire college was thrust into the world of online learning.

This is where I shine. I volunteered to help lead panels and training for colleagues about how to utilize our Learning Management System. I fielded phone calls and zoom calls and emails while transforming my own classes. I got to dig in deep and help my colleagues generously when they were feeling overwhelmed and despondent. I had hope to offer and a sincere desire to see them succeed. That was a great contrast from the messaging of panic and anger they were hearing from other faculty members. As they thanked me, I shared openly that I had been praying for more opportunities to be a help to the faculty in our department and was glad to do so.

Suddenly new doors were open at a time when everything felt like it was shutting down.

I would never have anticipated that my on-campus ministry would thrive in this season of my career, but God gave me eyes to see the opportunities in front of me and the extra time to seize those moments.

This is a complicated time in higher education. There are so many changes and much fear and anxiety. God is in these moments too, providing for the people He longs to see in His Kingdom, through me and through you. I pray that we would have eyes to see the opportunities.

Sabrena Deal
The University of Georgia