By Parker Akkerman, Class of 2020
When the news finally came, we were all expecting it. We could have never anticipated, however, just how much that one change would uproot our lives in the months to come.
March 13 was the last normal day. It was the night of the beloved campus event, Mr. NNU. Campus was buzzing with talk of closure, creating a blanket of confusion and fear. Despite the uncertainty, Mr. NNU was permitted to occur. Minutes before the event, an email was sent to campus explaining the start of an early spring break and a possible permanent shift to online learning.
As I looked around the auditorium, I could see the hearts breaking in real time. The room was eerily quiet yet also incredibly loud. Before the show, we were encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to laugh and be together while still on campus. And we definitely did.
That night, I was reminded of why NNU is such a special place. NNU is a venue for joy and celebration, but it also experiences mourning and loss. Students are not transformed by simply attending NNU, but by engaging in the real experiences of life while in community with others.
We all cried that night. My roommates and I cried. My fellow senior friends cried as we packed up our cars to head home. I even cried in front of a large group of faculty members. I also laughed a lot, too. We all were sore from laughing at Mr. NNU. I laughed with my classmates in a Facetime call as we found ourselves focused more on our household pets instead of our assignment. As hard as it was, I felt strangely grateful for all of the moments I had been given. I cried, but only because I was losing something so good.
Over the last two months of the semester, I felt the NNU community at home. My friends continuously checked in on me. Classmates and staff members wrote me handwritten notes. Professors personally emailed me about how I was doing and how we could be praying for each other. It was not the same, but it proved to me that the community at NNU does not happen by accident.
During this time, I found myself struck by something my dad told me as a kid. Growing up, I would worry so much I would give myself a stomach ache. Whatever was worrying me, my dad would always tell me the same thing, that we really can trust God with all of our lives.
The world has literally felt that it is spinning out of control. Leaving the house often feels paralyzing and the hopelessness in uncertainty is exhausting. But, we are not meant to carry the weight alone. God holds me in my anxiety, in my fear, and in my mourning. We have no idea what tomorrow looks like, and we never do. But now more than ever, I am reminded to practice deep, wholehearted trust in God.
If you would’ve told me in January that I would spend my last few months of college at home in quarantine, I would have called you crazy. Yet, despite all of the uncertainty and anxiety, I have watched a group of believers practice their faith. The way you respond to the bad says a lot more about your character than the good times. And NNU proved to me that nothing, not even a global pandemic could change that.