Gen Z: the generation that was born at the peak of the technological and social media explosion, created memes and copes with historic events with dark humor. We are the last generation of children whose baby pictures weren’t taken with smartphones. We are the last generation to remember cartoons on cable television instead of Netflix. We are the last generation that will ever know how to work a VHS player. And now, we are the generation that went to college during a global pandemic.
It has been a long, challenging year. Since the end of the 2020 spring semester, we’ve seen race riots break out across the country, watched protestors break into the Capitol Building and lost loved ones to the COVID-19 virus. It has been a year of divisions, of heartbreak and of violence.
But it has also been a year of rethinking, of unity and of learning. We’ve learned to value the little things, or maybe the big things we didn’t realize were quite so big: the ability to go to class, to grab a meal with a friend, to sing in chapel or even just shake someone’s hand. We’ve learned to prioritize spending time with people and face-to-face interaction over technology or other distractions. We’ve learned to listen to others when they speak of their struggles and how to advocate for them in Christian compassion. We watched nations unite to respond to the pandemic, and we see the fruits of those efforts in the vaccine. We’ve come together, bonded through a universal challenge that has touched every part of the globe.
As we look back on where God has brought us and how He is shaping our generation, a few crucial lessons from this year stand out. One is gratitude. After months in lockdown, we began to realize how much we took for granted. As the world began to bounce back and begin the long journey back to normal, we found immense joy in simple things. That easy gratitude for everything around us is something that should characterize our generation for the rest of our lives.
The second thing this year has taught us is trust. Few people alive today can remember a time more uncertain than the year we just faced. Yet God has brought us through it all and each of us are a testament to His grace. Each chapel service we sang in, each class we sat in and each meal we ate in the dining common are all only made possible because He saw us through this year.
Finally, this year has taught us passion: passion for each other, for our careers and for God. No one had 20/20 vision — we didn’t see this past year coming. So let us maintain our passion for loving others, for sharing the Gospel and for doing what God has called us to do because we have seen that we are truly not promised tomorrow. Let us live every day to the fullest, knowing history has its eyes on us as we become the next greatest generation through the provision of God and through following His leading.