I lay alone in the hospital bed with searing pain coursing through my body. For three months, I had been unable to stand or sit for longer than 30 minutes. The doctors had no solutions for my constant nerve pain and debilitating muscle spasms. In my agony, I wondered if my calling to Christian teaching and scholarship had run its course.
Before the pain started, I had been a fairly healthy and successful professor at Baylor University. I had published multiple books, completed work on a significant grant, and enjoyed class discussions with PhD students in a program I helped build. In March 2017, I went in for what I assumed was a routine medical procedure. Shortly afterward, I was in anguish.
I became a prisoner to pain. To keep it under control, I had to languish in bed. I could no longer go to work, exercise, drive, or sit at the table with my family for evening meals. I felt isolated from friends and church.
Nor could I fulfill the basic responsibilities of being a professor. During most of those months, I did not even feel up to reading, much less writing. In my Job-like pity party, I felt as if anything that had given me fulfillment or a sense of identity had suddenly been taken away. “Who am I, now that I seem to have lost everything?” I wondered. Would I ever be able to teach, write, and learn in the same way again?
In all likelihood, the fallout from COVID-19 has led some educators and students to ask similar questions. Perhaps you (or your loved ones) have contracted the virus and dealt with long-term complications. Perhaps your life arrangements have been upended because of online learning, lockdown restrictions, or the economic fallout. Crises always raise questions about who we are and what God has called ...1
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