My LopeLife: Strengthening our bonds in hard times
Editor’s note: This story is reprinted from the August issue of GCU Magazine. To read the digital version of the magazine, click here. My LopeLife is a feature in which GCU students, staff and alumni share enlightening experiences. To be considered for My LopeLife, please submit a short synopsis of your suggested topic to [email protected] with “My LopeLife” in the subject field.
By Dylan Mahoney
Special to GCU Today
On March 16, I said goodbye to my friends, left campus and flew home to New York for spring break. I never would have guessed that I was heading into the national epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic and wouldn’t be returning to Grand Canyon University, the place I also call home, for nearly four months.
At first it seemed as if it would pass quickly. It didn’t dawn on me that what was intended to be a brief trip to see friends and family quickly would devolve into a quarantine.
Just a few months earlier, I had been blessed with the opportunity to be President of the Associated Students of Grand Canyon University (ASGCU) for the 2020-21 academic year. I was very eager to get back to Phoenix and start training with my predecessor, Sam Yonan, to prepare for the role and be inaugurated.
Just like that, however, my plans were sidetracked.
I always have been somewhat restless, jumping from one task to another. I am constantly out and about around campus and consider myself very extroverted.
Like so many other people, being stuck inside a house doing virtually nothing for more than a month was out of my comfort zone. To me, there are few things worse than being forced to do nothing.
But I know now it was exactly what I needed, whether I liked it or not.
For a long time, I had been running from a lesson my parents and, more importantly, God taught me: Rest is essential to any Christian’s life. Even the most agile human isn’t intended to be fervently thinking, achieving and doing all the time.
I had come to accept the idea that burning out because of excessive commitments was a normal part of my life and something that just happened to me from time to time.
It was foolish to think it was a sustainable way of life because, in the back of my mind, I knew God had been calling me to slow down, rest and enjoy His blessings rather than brazenly running through them. Even God rested on the seventh day of creation.
What was seemingly terrible became exactly what I needed in order to dial in and get spiritually prepared for one of the hardest challenges I have faced.
While I quarantined in New York during the height of the pandemic, it was easy to look out at the world, see nothing but death and destruction, and grow pessimistic about the school year.
In January when the new student body leaders were elected, we never would have imagined we’d have to face a global pandemic on our very own campus. At first I was saddened because I knew our administration’s agenda for the school would have to take a back seat, but God showed me in my time of rest that He had placed us in these positions for a reason greater than our vision for GCU.
Swallowing that isn’t so easy, however.
When ASGCU Vice President Noah Logan and I ran for our positions, we wanted to focus on two main things: reaching underrepresented student groups to increase unity across campus, and making all students and people in our immediate community feel seen, heard and loved through serving them as Christ would.
We quickly began to realize the pandemic didn’t end that dream, it provided an even greater opportunity to work toward it. We are now entering an era where few college students have experienced such a large-scale hardship; because of that, we need to be more intentional than ever with people on and off campus to spread the love of Christ.
The brief pessimism I experienced during the quarantine has been transformed into an even greater zeal for God and our student body. Even though life on campus may look a little different, God is using this time for His children to grow closer to Him and push us to not cling to the worldly comforts we have become too accustomed to enjoying. Rather, this is a time to find comfort in Him.
Even in this season of discomfort, I am convinced that God will provide amazing opportunities for GCU students to shine His light in the Valley and seek innovations that will grow His kingdom and this university alike to greater heights.
God is using this time to isolate His children, teach them and strengthen them for the road ahead. I urge each and every student on this campus to use it to reflect on themselves and work on the neglected things God has been calling us to incorporate into our lives.
He does this so that He may draw us to greater relationship with Him through faith, hope and love.