Hello everyone! :) I’m here to share just a little bit about how this past semester has gone. me. It might get kind of sad for a while, but stick to the end! I promise there are some good things to be found in all of this difficulty!

This semester has been undoubtedly the most challenging period of my life thus far, and I don’t just mean academically. The challenges that have resulted from me living at home and doing college remotely have created difficulties socially, mentally, and spiritually, alongside the academic rigour of my semester.

Living at home has made it so easy for me to ignore relationships with friends and family, and so long as COVID restrictions continue to apply, my heart breaks to be so distant from everyone. I’ve long struggled with socializing beyond a core group of friends, and I have had difficulties with social anxiety and a whole ton of related things like that, and my first year of college seemed to swoop in at just the right time and help me so much! I was finally breaking out and actively pursuing friendships, actively leaving my comfort zone, but COVID destroyed all that work. I fell back into my old habits of isolating myself. That continued on into this first semester, and I cannot express how difficult it has been.

When you have as much alone time as I have had this semester, when you are this isolated, there are few places to turn for distraction. I had to truly take a look at myself spiritually and mentally, and truly assess where I am, where I have been, and where I thought I should be, or even where I wanted to be. In all honesty, I’m nowhere near where I wanted to be. My walk with Christ suffers from my anxiety and random depressive episodes, and so my spiritual wellness is very much linked to my mental wellness. It’s been a struggle all through this semester.

Academically, this year has been so hard for me. I just switched into being a math major, and my classes presented such an intellectual challenge that, being at home and faced with all these other difficulties all at once, I was not prepared to deal with. Math is not an easy subject, and I didn’t expect it to be, but I also didn’t expect it to be such a difficult semester overall. I genuinely considered dropping some of my classes, or even just dropping out of school altogether. This has been such a difficult and mind-numbingly complex time, and I’m still struggling with everything I’ve already mentioned.

However: I want you all to know that there is always, always good that comes out of difficulty. Through this semester, I’ve better learned how to look at myself—my motivations, my thoughts, my struggles, my temptations, my sinfulness, etc.—and acknowledge where my life fails to line up with either my beliefs, my words, or God’s word and Christ. I’ve been blessed with more time to speak with God, to dwell on him and how he’s involved himself in my life. I have learned how to be more intentional with my relationships, how to reach out when I want to and not be ashamed of it. I’ve learned how to show others I care at all times, and not only when we are able to be together in person. One of the absolute greatest blessings I’ve been given, one of the greatest results of this semester, has been my job. As a social media representative and as a member of the greater student ambassador team for Biola, I have found such amazing community with my coworkers. I cannot even bear to call them coworkers, for I very much consider each and every one of them dear friends of mine. I have met only two of them in person, and yet they have made me feel so welcome, so loved, and so comforted, something that I needed so desperately during this semester. This is my first genuine job, and it has been a blessing straight from God’s hand in ways that make this entire semester bearable.

It’s hard not to get teary-eyed even as I write this as I think about how God has been working in my life this semester, in ways that are always for His greater good. So many times over the past few months, life has felt so hopeless. I hope you all can see the lie in that; there is hope out there. God is watching over us. Life was never promised to be easy. God knows our difficulties, and he brings amazing people—like my ambassador team—and blessings into our lives to show us that we can make it through this life, even as we await greater and holier things in the next.

With all brotherly love,

Ethan :)