“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” – Proverbs 3:5-6
Sometimes adversity confronts us in ways we least expect it. As the COVID-19 pandemic prompts school administrators to mothball their classrooms – revolutionizing the educational system for students of all ages – learners are finding themselves with more questions than answers. Though distance learning is not a new concept, many students are unfamiliar with how to traverse the waters of online learning.
Students at Regent University are no different, though distance learning has been in place for many years. Generally, nontraditional students have had more practice at balancing the demands of the online classroom experience, usually paired with full-time jobs and families.
One example is a retired U.S. Navy veteran with more than 20 years of active duty service. Darryl Orrell decided to use his passion for writing to pursue a degree in English and journalism at Regent University so that he can extend his reach with God’s Word to impact the world in mighty ways.
“I love to write, and it is what I do day in and day out for the Navy. I also love to teach and preach the Word of God and felt the calling to go into ministry,” says Orrell, a graduate student who is in his last semester at Regent as a nontraditional student.
Orrell’s journey through higher education has had its challenges. As an older student, he has found a way to balance the demands of working as a full-time federal employee and spending time with his wife of 34 years and adult son with special needs.
However, through it all, Orrell says God has continually cleared any potential obstacles from his path since the beginning.
“If work became demanding, it was always a light week at school, and my family was supportive and doing fine.” On the other hand, if circumstances were reversed and life became demanding, then work or school would lighten up. Orrell credits God’s almighty hand as the only explanation for his ability to consistently remain balanced throughout the last four years of school. “In other words, God brought all three – family, work, and school – together into a single seamless purpose,” he explains.
Orrell says that throughout his studies, God has taught him many life lessons, including maintaining faith-based patience. “Whatever ministry He calls someone to serve [in], He will see that person through whatever it takes… to achieve God’s purpose according to His perfect will.”
Even the medical community acknowledges the impact that faith has on mental health. According to the Mayo Clinic, spirituality has many benefits for stress relief and overall mental health when it comes to balancing life’s demands. “People who consider themselves spiritual may be better able to cope with stress and may experience health benefits,” the Clinic reports.
Dr. E. Mohandas explains in an article addressing the implications of spirituality on neurobiology: “Most studies have shown that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes, including greater longevity, coping skills and health-related quality of life… and less anxiety.”
Those who practice Christian faith can attest to the reality that trusting in a strength outside of oneself has allowed for a supernatural ability to be all things to all people – without succumbing to the potentially negative health impacts that often accompany stressful situations.
Orrell’s advice for any student balancing the demands of academics along with everything else is simple. “Begin each day with a prayer giving thanks to God…and let the Holy Spirit guide you every step of the way.”