This past year in retrospect: Which moment would you most like to relive?
Are you kidding me? THIS is the question I drew off the top of the pile of “Vertellis: Less Small Talk More Genuine Conversations”card game? Ummm…none of it?
Then I began to think about it. Even amid the surgeries and pandemic, there were some bright spots and lessons learned…
My very favorite thing was teaching the Galatians Bible study in January and February. We had a blast getting to know each other (sometimes a little too much) when my friend Vicky had us doing all kinds of getting-to-know-you games. Was this really just 11 months ago that we were running with rolls of toilet paper between our knees to the other end where our partner had a plunger between her knees and well…the plunger stick went into the TP roll hole? (And you thought Bible study was boring!) We had no idea the value those rolls would hold in just a few short weeks!
We studied Paul’s letter, shared questions and thoughts, collaborated on the confusing parts and walked away better versed than when we began. It does not fall blindly on me that the study was called It is For Freedom and in just a few short weeks we would all be in lock down. This was our end of study celebration:
Who could have foretold that would be the last “normal” study of 2020.
In February I had a gluteal tendon tear repaired and began the long process of rehab. Friends brought dinner and cupcakes, sent cards, flowers and books. Todd and Carson carried me to the bathroom the first few days. The Amazon man brought me a “Go Girl” because my man thought it would be funny. Bless them. My girls “babysat” me when Todd went out of town. Mackenzie got to see what her future self will look like when she helped me get in the shower. Bless her. My man and I laughed ‘til we cried when I had “graduated” to sitting on the side of the tub and him lifting both legs, one useless and other weak, over the tub…your boob is in my ear but I don’t want you to fall! You guys! I suppose I was hanging on pretty tightly…afraid of falling…oh the life lessons! There were moments of tears when I learned I had to go back under to have the portals cleaned out because of an allergic reaction to the deep stitches. Sigh…
Then the pandemic hit.
In the wink of an eye, life as we knew it was changed. No more meeting in person. Work was from home. Schools were on-line. Churches, restaurants, gyms, bowling alleys, movie theaters, sports, airlines, travel, daycares…all shut down. Toilet paper was a hot commodity. The back section of Costco looked like an old-fashioned bank run. Yeast was nowhere to be found. Canning jars and lids were scarce. Suddenly everyone became bakers and gardeners. Simple things like coffee with a friend, hugs, dinner out, community worship, kids practice, school events…all wiped off our calendars.
I wonder if we can find some pearls in the pig sty that was 2020?
I asked my family what lessons they learned last year…serious, funny, real…doesn’t matter. With their permission, here’s what some of them said:
My man had a bit of a health scare which led to the wearing of a heart monitor for ten days. He said, “I learned the importance of listening to my body and paying attention to what it’s telling me. It doesn’t pay to ignore or deny how you’re feeling. Eventually it catches up with you. Plus, I’m not as young as I used to be!”
Isn’t that the truth? (Not the getting old part…although…) Even those who have never struggled with anxiety or depression found themselves on the end of understanding those who do a bit more intimately. 2020 was a hard year. Grace says, it’s okay to not be okay.
I had a conversation with my oldest son, Nate, who shared: this past year showed me that we don’t need as much as we thought we did. We can get by on way less stuff, activities and busyness. Taking care of and spending time with my family is important.
Isn’t that the truth? Houses that overflow, calendars that show we’re on-the-go, families who are too busy and overactive minds that makes one dizzy. When everything shut down last year, it gave us a time to reset, retool and re-evaluate. Our calendars. Our minds. Our stuff. How many families were sitting down to dinner…that was homemade? How many board games got dust knocked off them and were played together? How many more conversations were had because, well, what else was there to do besides cook food, play games and talk. We can now put those things that we realize are important on the forefront. What a blessing!
My oldest daughter, Macey, texted this back to the group: I feel stronger now than I have ever felt because I went through some really hard stuff this (past) year: panic attacks, grad school, the whole world changing and feeling like it was falling apart. I think the reason I feel stronger than ever is because I’ve never been closer to God. I do meditation and a devotion or Bible study each morning. I practice Shabbat on the weekends. I memorize scripture. I pray a lot more than I ever have.
And through this prayer, I’ve come to realize a few things: that I’m on the right path with my writing. That my family is one of the most important things in my life. That patience and trust make life a whole lot easier to live. And that self-care in the form of gardening, reading books, baking, exercising and taking baths make life fun.
Isn’t that the truth? Prayer and self-care were the must do’s in the year of poo! What an opportunity to develop spiritual disciplines, to ask God hard questions, to be still before Him and trust that He knows you, He sees you, He loves you, to trust that He’s got you. He has a race for which you are to run, a lane for you to run it in and a prize like no other at the end of it. Run it well, daughter of mine!
My youngest (college age) daughter, Mallory, texted me this: This past year I realized I’m stronger than I know. I spent the night in the hospital (in Columbus by myself…thanks COVID) and was okay. I went through tough mental health issues and was okay. I went to college online and was okay. I am an “essential worker” and had to go to work in a level red county and was okay.
I learned to be thankful for the things and people who were put in my life. I am thankful for the doctors who helped me figure out what was going on. I am thankful for my counselor who has helped me deal with pandemic anxiety. I am thankful for my family who has been there for support every step of the way. I am thankful for the friends I have who have sat with me through tears and triumphs, with late night puzzles and doing silly things to distract us all from what’s going on in the world. This past year, I learned that being just okay is okay and that it’s only up from here.
Isn’t that the truth? I think we all have stories from this past year that prove we are stronger than we’ve ever known ourselves to be, more courageous than we ever thought we were and have chosen faith over fear multiple times…even when fear crept in on occasion. Perhaps “strong and courageous” looked like prayer and therapy or admitting and asking for aid.
This past year gave us opportunities to practice the art of being thankful…even when we had to dig for it sometimes…that attitude of gratitude were nuggets of gold in the middle of pandemic panic.
(I have to take a moment to encourage parents of littles. One minute you are wiping butts and noses…sometimes both with the same tissue…and wondering if all your hard work, tears and cheers are doing one ounce of anything and the next minute, you are having conversations with your adult kids who are both wise and whimsical, clever and creative, lovely and loving, and some of my best friends. Hang in there!)
2020 was a year for the record books!
I pray that the things God showed all of us will be lessons we bring forward into the New Year. I pray we don’t miss the opportunity to be improved individuals, a kinder community. I pray that the struggles and heartaches of last year will be used to strengthen our spiritual muscles and make us a more compassionate people. I pray that once we are able to back to “normal”, we do not fall back into complacency or take for granted those simple things we missed out on: seeing someone’s smile, hugs, raising hands in community worship, going to the office, eating out, gathering with friends, eating together, family time, still time.
Finally, I will leave you with this quote from a friend’s social media post:
As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, forgetful delight, nor with the quickness of impulsive thoughtlessness. But let us go out with the patient power knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ. Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands and step out into the invincible future with Him. (Oswald Chambers)
Yes and Amen Mr. Chambers!
Happy New Year!