4 Ways to Finish the Semester Strong...Even in a Pandemic
Here at Murray State we are almost finished with the last week of classes, and about to head into finals week for the semester. No one could have imagined that this is how we would finish this school year out--in the middle of a global pandemic.
Many of us are several weeks into strict stay-at-home orders, and even with the talks of opening the economy back up it still feels like this will all never end. We certainly won't be getting back to any semblance of normal for quite some time. With these things in mind it can be hard to even consider finishing the semester strong; half-heartedly finishing assignments and papers, and barely skating by in finals and quizzes seems like the much easier option. Let me offer you four ways you can still finish this season strong.
Remember that whatever you do, you're doing it for the Lord...or not. Colossians 3:23-24 (CSB) tells us, "Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ." And Hebrews 12:1-2 (CSB) says, "Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Keep in mind that the way that you approach your assignments, studying for finals, etc. speaks volumes to those around you of the faith you have in the Lord. Finishing strong instead of finishing half-heartedly shows those around you that your ultimate hope is in Christ--not your circumstances.
Stay in a routine. It can be really easy at this point to slide out of any kind of routine. Remember that many of you are about to enter a summer that you weren't planning for; maybe you lost your internship or job, maybe you're going to have a lot more free time on your hands. Recognize now that that extra free time that's coming can be a good thing or bad thing. If you're prepared for it by staying in a routine (or beginning a routine now!) then it'll be much easier to protect yourself from spiraling into anxiety and depression, or from developing unhealthy habits.
Stay in community. Remember that JClark always says, "Life change happens best in the context of relationship." This season can produce positive life change if you stay in community with fellow believers. Set up some Zoom study sessions with friends this weekend so you can prepare for finals together. If you're struggling to finish strong, share that with some friends and ask them to pray with you about it. As you think about the next season and the potential for extra free time on your hands, maybe this is the time that you ask some friends to start a summer Bible study, or accountability group.
Celebrate accomplishments! Don't forget to recognize the hard work that you've put into this school year. Because we aren't on campus to finish out this year, and many seniors won't get the privilege of celebrating their accomplishments with a commencement ceremony in May, it will be really hard to find closure for many on this school year. I would suggest that you plan something fun for the end of finals week. Maybe you're still not able to get out, but you could cook a fancy meal or order your favorite takeout and eat it with your family. One of my favorite things to do is eat out at a restaurant with friends (weird, yes, but in a family with 8 children you never get to eat out, so I'm still making up for 18+ years of very few restaurant outings), but we aren't able to do that right now. So, instead, I'm getting my favorite takeout and having a picnic with my family! Think about the things that are special for you and try to plan something that you'll have to look forward to, but that will also serve as closure for the semester. If you need ideas, just watch the "Treat Yo' Self" episode of Parks & Rec. You can thank me later.
Know that your Murray State BCM staff are praying for you as you finish this season.
Finish strong, Racers. Keep your eyes on Jesus, it's all for Him and His glory.
- Hannah, Campus Minister Associate