Eighteen-year-olds around the world have missed out on a lot in the last five months due to COVID-19.
Southeast Christian Church member Anna Spruell is no different, but she’s learned to hold the future loosely.
“There’s been this sense of peace that it’s going to be OK whatever happens,” Spruell said. “At first, I was devastated. I thought we were going to go back to normal after a couple weeks, and that we would see each other soon. Then weeks turned into months without seeing my friends or having a normal senior year. I wasn’t sure how to grieve that.”
Spruell graduated from Eastern High School in May and will move to Chicago this month to attend Moody Bible Institute.
While she couldn’t attend a traditional college orientation, Spruell has been able to connect with other incoming freshman via social media and Zoom, and has already begun to form friendships with her roommate and other students.
“We’re all in a group chat together, and we’ve already started to form some sweet bonds of friendship,” Spruell said. “People will comment on my Instagram posts things like, ‘I can’t wait to meet you!’ And I’m like, ‘You’re making this so easy for me!’ It’s encouraging to know there are sweet people there who already know me. That definitely makes the transition less daunting.”
Spruell said that experiencing such a unique senior year has helped prepare her for the future.
“I’ve known since my junior year that I wanted to go to Moody, but before, I had lived with this idea that this is what’s going to happen, but that’s not always true,” she said. “The changes we had to make during quarantine were so big and intentional that now the changes I’m facing don’t seem so scary. I feel like God has been using this time to prepare me for whatever life throws at me. This resilience and ability to shift directions, it comes so much easier to me. And I carry this sense of peace that it’s all going to work out in the end because it’s already worked out so many times.”
Spruell said that even though high school didn’t end the way she expected, God helped her shift her perspective and see the good in a season of “missing out.”
“The Lord provided emotional closure for things that I really couldn’t have physical closure for,” Spruell said. “My school’s chorus has been a huge part of my life for four years, and we were able to have an online concert in the spring. We had a drive-by day at school where we were able to pick up our cap and gown and see our teachers one last time. I was even able to have a social distancing grad party. The Lord helped me wrap up that chapter, and it gave me permission to move forward and look toward this new chapter. It’s kind of sweet that I have all these unique memories that I get to look back on. In a weird way, I feel incredibly blessed by it because it was so memorable.”
The biggest thing Spruell will miss when she moves to Chicago? Family and friends.
“Right now, I’m just trying to treasure these last moments with my family and friends,” Spruell said. “Quarantine has been one of the best things that’s happened to my family, and it’s strengthened my friendships, too. I have an amazing crew of friends who have been with me, no matter what. For the last four years, my high school group has come over every Wednesday. It’s going to be weird not having them there, but the amount of time we were in quarantine and I couldn’t see my friends was about the same length as a semester. The Lord has already given me a time away from them, and our friendship survived that. We’ve already started planning virtual coffee dates so we can keep up with each other.”
Now, Spruell is trying to navigate preparing for college and keeping realistic expectations.
“Right now, we’re all figuring out what the semester is going to look like.” Spruell said. “Are we going to meet on campus? Is it going to be kind of in-person, kind of online? It’s not going to look like what I thought, so I can’t put any expectations on it or pressures on what I want something to look like. I feel like that’s something the Lord has been teaching me for a while now. I can either expect this to go a certain way and end up frustrated, or I can let this be whatever it needs to be and have the best time.”
Spruell will study communications at Moody and hopes to use her degree to share the hope of Christ with unreached people groups.
“I feel very called to go overseas and take the Gospel to unreached peoples,” Spruell said. “There are thousands of communities that have no access to the Gospel—no access to a Bible in their own language. I hope to be able to use communications to bring the Gospel to those people in diverse ways that are unique to their culture.”