From the Editor: That which produces hope

Shelly NgoMy paternal grandparents celebrated 72 years of marriage before my grandfather died at age 97. “People think we are so affectionate when they see us holding each other so tightly when we’re crossing the street,” my grandmother once said to me before my grandfather passed away, “but we are just trying not to fall down!”

My parents celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary this year. With marital longevity lines running through my family, I assumed I would reach those same milestones. Instead, my own marriage ended by our 14th anniversary.

In the aftermath of my divorce, I was overwhelmed by the realities of working full time and being a single mother to four children. If my second grader forgot she needed a poster board for school the next day, it meant strapping my 4-year-old twins and my 2-year-old into car seats to schlep everyone to the store before baths and bedtime.

Divorced families know the painful particulars: The odd/even year split of holidays and birthdays. The emotional transitions between homes under parenting plan provisions. The draining legal and financial processes required to tear asunder a marriage.

I’ve been thinking a lot this year about the good that grows out of difficult times.

What I didn’t immediately recognize in those hard times, was the wisdom acquired through the challenges. I was petrified, so I learned to lean into
Scripture and my faith in a way I never had before. My marriage was a failure, but the failure humbled me and taught me empathy for others.

I’ve been thinking a lot this year about the good that grows out of difficult times as we grapple with a global pandemic, job losses, loved ones lost to the
coronavirus, divisive politics, and racial inequalities. Romans 5 tells us that suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance produces character, and
character, hope.

This past April, my now 17-year-old daughter, Katie, asked me what I thought would survive the shutdowns. Would restaurants, theaters, and stores
all just reopen? What would it be like to travel in the post-COVID-19 world?

I had no idea, but her questions made me wonder how our SPU family was persevering through the upheavals of this year. In our piece “Hindsight
is 2020,” we asked alumni (and an SPU student) how things have changed for them in their fields of education, the arts, technology, and social services.
Nursing alumna Pritma Dhillon-Chattha ’03 launched a business in 45 days to offer psychiatric nursing services online after the pandemic restricted people to their homes. Leslie Hill ’91 is working to secure  housing for people who are homeless.

Response talked to alumni caring for COVID-19 patients on both coasts. Lt. Cmdr. Megan Warth ’00, a Navy reservist nurse, offered to work in New York City for two months during the height of the coronavirus crisis. And alumnus Steve Mitchell is “Working in the Hot Zone” as the medical director for Harborview Medical Center’s emergency department.

Associate Professor of Reconciliation Studies Brenda Salter McNeil was interviewed by The New Yorker magazine earlier this year after the death of
George Floyd galvanized people worldwide to agitate against racial inequities. Salter McNeil also did an interview with us to talk about her journey to becoming brave in her pursuit of racial justice.

This year has highlighted the brokenness of a world separated and divorced from God, but, as alumnus Andrew Shutes-David ’03 wrote in his essay about parenting a newborn and adopting tweens, love can guide us to the hard things.

It was God’s immense love for us, after all, that propelled Christ to enter our world, to dwell among us, and to reconcile us to him so that we might be called the sons and daughters of God. In this season of Advent, as we cross from 2020 into a new year, may we hold tight to the one who is our Immanuel. God is with us.

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