Seeking God in 2020

By Betty Alfaro

Author of this post - Seeking God in 2020

Duke University | Class of 2024 | Intended Biology Major, Premed | Duke Chapter, Director of Communications

Seeking God in 2020

A Tough Transition

Covid-19 made it extremely easy for people to feel hopeless or pessimistic this past year. The disruptions in our day-to-day life have made things hard to face at times, even when remaining fully faithful to Christ. I was not able to end my senior year of high school the way I had envisioned. I had hoped to be able to say goodbye to friends before parting ways, but I was never able to obtain real closure due to the limits on social gatherings. Beginning college during the pandemic and undergoing many new changes was tremendously difficult in itself, seeing as I had never imagined I would face a new environment, new peers, and new academic responsibilities in this way.

Even though I was excited to start attending Duke this semester, the restrictions put into place due to Covid-19 made the transition tough and took away from many of the classic community-building opportunities that are usually available to first-year students. Everything was online, which was necessary in order to keep everyone safe and healthy, but it made classes and meeting others feel much more impersonal and inorganic. Building connections seemed near impossible as most people I met were people I could only interact with virtually. Outside of the classroom, things didn’t seem much better. Instead of eating with family and the friends I had grown up with, I was told it was safest to eat alone in my room. Facing not only physical but also social isolation left me constantly wishing I could just be back home with familiar surroundings.

With not only these challenges but also the new and rigorous academics to keep up with, it was hard to remain focused on my faith and spend as much time speaking to God as I had hoped to. I was spending all my time with school work, and it felt as though I had no one to turn to during times of immense stress. I realized I wasn’t turning to God for help as often as I should have been. Rather than focusing on myself and my individual successes, I realized it was necessary to focus on the communal values associated with my faith.

Finding a Focus

Discovering how to remain focused on growing in my spirituality while undergoing the difficulties of this year was also in itself a challenge, but joining Simple Charity helped me make some progress. Having organized times to meet and discuss shared values and goals with a newfound community made it easier for me to dedicate time to focus on faith and simultaneously fight global poverty.

Adjusting to life at Duke during this pandemic was more difficult than I would have liked for it to be, but knowing these were only temporary challenges made it all easier to face. With hope for positive change in the near future, the difficulties that came with isolation and my new workload began to look much smaller in the grand scheme of things. With more trust in God, the stresses I currently face are much more bearable as they are in reality just a bump in the road God has planned for me to travel. As long as I know what happens is not entirely in my hands and I trust Christ in all that I do, minor inconveniences will continue to appear much less important than they previously had.

Trusting God in turn meant learning from the rough patches in my own life and utilizing that to help others facing similar difficulties. Regardless of how I may have felt at certain moments, it was necessary to not focus just on academic achievements or personal developments but also understand that others are in dire situations and in need of help. Being able to use my successes and opportunities to assist those that aren’t able to experience the privileges I have is imperative when following Christ.

Hoping & Helping

The opportunities I’ve been given are for a reason, and, with the guidance of Christ, I plan to take full advantage of them to help others. This semester, I took part in tutoring programs to assist children struggling with online learning, specifically students overcoming language barriers. Once more in-person opportunities become

available, I hope to become more involved with these organizations and others in order to ensure a great number of people are reached and provided with whatever aid they are in search of.

I’ve been encouraged and inspired to act by Philippians 2:3-4 (ERV) which reads, “In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too.”

Joining Simple Charity and learning about educational systems around the world helped me understand a different perspective. Education is not only a personal accomplishment but also something to share with others to help an entire community flourish. Being selfish or overly prideful will get me nowhere, but sharing my successes and helping others will help me and others find communal prosperity.

Once I saw how Simple Charity works to help global communities that face difficulties with obtaining equal educational opportunities, I had a better idea of what I can do now to help those communities in need. Whether it be through fundraisers or other mediums, I don’t have to wait until I graduate or until the pandemic passes to help others. There are always available methods by which a person can dedicate time to a good cause. With the guidance of God and an optimistic, selfless outlook, the possibilities are endless. Regardless of the magnitude of an issue or whether it be in regards to global health, poverty, or any other crisis people are facing, there is always something to offer to alleviate others of some distress. With God’s guidance, anyone can assist those in their own community and around the world with overcoming an endless array of difficulties, even those challenges that have come with Covid-19 and left us feeling so lost.

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