Graduation, A Pandemic, and The Internship! Oh My!

Calais Eledui, 1st year intern at Penn State  |  June 29, 2020

“College will be the best four years of your life.” Surprisingly, I didn’t hear that until I was already in college, but as each semester came and went I remember thinking, “whoever said that had it right!” Each friendship was new, exciting, and fun. The community I built in college taught me the value of vulnerability and honesty, as well as the freedom that came with those conversations. As those friendships deepened, they were used to pry open the windows and doors of my heart, letting out all the dusty filth of hidden sin and shame. I had these moments through college which brought me to a new, beautiful freedom in Christ, causing me to echo that phrase loudly, “College is the best four years of my life!”

And then Covid-19 happened. Maybe some people expected it, but to my optimistic minded self I never thought it would affect my life and my plans. Within a few hours, emails were sent out that we would not just have an extended spring break, but we would not even be returning to campus. And just like that, the best four years of my life were over.

I didn’t have the time or the space to say goodbye to the place and the people that God used to transform my heart. I could not properly part from the place where God revealed Himself in His full glory and grace. I was not going to have my graduation day. I was not going to walk around with that silly looking hat and say congratulations to that one guy I only knew from the line at Dunkin.

And if that wasn’t enough, I had accepted a position with a campus ministry whose basis of ministry was relational. From fundraising to ministry on campus, the RUF internship is designed to be done in person. This was the ministry that contributed to the best four years of my life.  Instead of jumping straight into all the things I imagined, I was left hanging in the unknown – somewhere between “how can I raise funds in the middle of a pandemic?” to “will I even have a job in the fall if universities move to online school?”

I felt deprived, saddened, angered even. I could not say goodbye and transition the way I wanted. I felt scared, overwhelmed, and completely out of control.

This is where Jesus met me. Lying on my bed, turning over every angry thought and validating all my frustrated feelings towards the circumstances. I thought about the moments that were stripped from me, the goodbyes I wouldn’t get to say, and I wondered why I had to care so much. Why did the best four years of my life have the end like this?

These precious people had taught me so much. They had laughed with me over inside jokes. They had grieved with me over the passing of old friends. They had loved me even after seeing the deep layers of selfishness to my heart. 

And in these thought processes Jesus stepped in. This pain came from the sweetness of relationship. These relationships are simply a small reflection of a much more beautiful relationship He offers me. He laughs along with me, harder than anyone else. He grieves deeper than any friend could. He loves me in such earnestness, while knowing my rawest form. He has filled my heart’s craving through this community with a small piece of Himself.

It was in this moment, lying on my bed, that my thoughts stopped for a second. This God, who filled my inner most needs and longings of which even I was unaware, is the same God who allowed my senior year to be brought to such an abrupt end. This same God who brought me friends to wade through tears with me, was the same God who allowed sickness to infect our lands and alter our entire lives. This same God who used people to unravel my binding shame and led me to the Freedom of His grace, was the same God who called me to this job at this exact time.

This God, who let me taste a small sample of His faithfulness through my four years of college, is the same God who brought me here to a place in time where I get to see His faithfulness displayed post college. He is a God who will bring me to His purpose despite everything around me. He is a God providing His child with what I need rather than what I think I need.  I have seen Him be faithful before, I can trust that He will be faithful again.

So, yes these have been the best four years of my life. But that has to do with Jesus, not college; and the great thing is, Jesus isn’t limited to college.