#FDOC looked very different this semester. I told my sons – both of whom attend Appalachian State University – that I wanted the traditional FDOC (First Day of Class) pictures even though nothing about this semester is traditional. Even though I’ve had kids in college for 8 years now, I still miss sending them off to school on the first day of classes.

I received this picture today from one son. His brother didn’t need to send me a picture because both of my boys – like many in NC – had the same experience. 2 hours into the first day of classes and the online system crashed. I envisioned kids and parents everywhere sitting with their heads in their hands.

Like every college student, my sons worried all summer about what this semester would look like. They even contemplated working during fall semester instead of attending classes with hopes that things will return to normal by January. But they both decided to enroll in classes, keep plugging away at their degrees, and make the most of this bizarre situation.

I was stumped. While trying to find something encouraging to say to my frustrated boys, it occurred to me that there are some powerful rewards to be had in this uncertain and ever-changing COVID atmosphere. Everyone – and I mean absolutely everyone – is being presented with opportunity after opportunity to learn some valuable lessons: to be flexible, to adjust, to approach situations differently, to make the most of often inconvenient situations, to make sacrifices, to extend grace.

Our world needs more of all of that. Tensions are high, people are stressed and worried and afraid and lonely, and no one can predict what tomorrow will look like. We can all gain from the lessons we’re being given the opportunity to learn. Maybe COVID is here to teach them to us.