A new year, a fresh calendar, endless possibilities. That’s how I felt on the Eve of 2020 last December. Our family had been through a lot of emotional lows towards the end of 2019 as we said goodbye to our foster child. Heartbroken and emotionally spent, I looked ahead to 2020 with a weary soul but ready to see what the Lord had in store for us.
I discovered a renewed optimism ringing in the New Year, celebrating with David in the quietness of our home. The girls fast asleep long before midnight and me, barely able to keep my eyes open to the countdown alongside my husband. Butterflies fluttered around my stomach, resting my head on the pillow that night eager with anticipation for 2020.
As with any new year, I had written a list of goals including writing goals I had hoped to crush along with new fitness goals, races scheduled to help motivate my overall daily activity. My word heading into the year was purpose and I couldn’t wait to start unearthing what that meant to me personally.
February brought a round of unexplained illness for Bernadette. I spent a week with her on the couch and in and out of the doctor’s office trying to figure out the cause for the high fever and lethargy she was experiencing. Worried I was going to end up taking her to the hospital, I prayed for God to heal her once again.
After a week, she perked back up, her body improving from whatever she happened to be fighting. Praising God, I sent her back to school… Until spring break.
It’s no surprise how devastated we all were learning of the new virus and seeing the impacts it was beginning to have on the entire world in March. Thinking it would be a quick two weeks of shutdowns, I was honestly crushed when the orders came through to stay home, wear masks, and socially distance for the unforeseeable future. The months long and drawn out, each one longer than the last, with new mandates what seemed like daily felt like too much to bare.
Behaviors I hadn’t experienced with Bernadette before came on full-force as she attempted to adjust to remote learning and online therapies. I tried my hardest to be everything to everyone. My two other daughters feeling the affects of attempting to adjust to remote learning with the added dimension of trying to make sense of the situation in their young minds. So many needs, so many emotions to process through, and not enough of me.
I hit wall after wall, each day harder than the last. Immediate circumstances unchanging, pressed on every side. I found myself trapped in a spiraling time warp I couldn’t pull myself out of. Behaviors increasingly more difficult and my stamina rapidly decreasing.
I can’t say I have found how to thrive in this year by any means. It has merely felt like another episode of Survive this Life, a show I am all too familiar with. Stressing continuously, fighting battles I do not feel equipped to face, and ignoring my own self as an attempt to press down the emotions of it all. Opening up the floodgates felt utterly daunting.
As 2021 draws near, I know that perhaps my immediate circumstances won’t change. Something I realized months ago. Sure, my kids are in fact among the few who are actually able to attend in person school in this state anyway, but there are things that may not change in the foreseeable future. Yet, what I have come back to in my time of reflection is the greatest reminder, there is HOPE. And I am not the same person I was at the start of this year. Praise God, His grace pours out in abundance.
Not simply “hope” in changing circumstances but that God’s mercies are new each day and I am covered under His undeniable grace He gives freely. I only pray I can extend that same grace to my husband and my daughters as I remind myself to reset, refocus, and renew my mind in Christ.
No one knows what the future holds. We can guess, we can plan, and we can walk forward in our dreams we believe we are being called to. At the end of the day, I cannot predict what tomorrow holds, only cling to the Hope that is Jesus I have anchoring my soul (Hebrews 6:19).
A well-meaning phrase that has been eating me up lately has been “I hope your day gets better tomorrow.” I hear it, and I cringe. It takes me back to the early days of the pandemic where I kept “hoping” we would be back to our typical lives in two weeks…then two months…and then… So forth and so on, stopping and starting along the way. Every time a stop hit, I felt the impact retreating back into my shell unable to fully process the disappointment I was experiencing. In part, I was disappointed the day went exactly like the previous day. It was unchanging, for months on end. I quickly traded my naturally optimistic personality in for a more “realistic” approach which I then promptly traded in for the ultimate negativity-filled mindset, immersed with bitterness I had no interest in giving up.
Yet, what I desperately long for in general is seeing the positive in a situation. And not necessarily the glass half-full optimism but truly the kind of hope sung about in the famous hymn It is Well written by Horatio Gates Spafford. No matter what we are facing, our Hope is Jesus. God is unchanging, His word is true. He will never leave us nor forsake us. We can rest assured that He is working all things for good even when everything is falling apart at the seams.
So, what am I taking with me from this last year of hardship? The reminder to press into God. The more difficult the season, the greater the opportunity to watch Him work in mighty ways, even when I don’t feel it or can’t see it. Leaning into God in our time of weakness is when His strength is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I am also learning to let go of the little things that don’t matter. Things can wait. The human beings, especially those who call me mom and the one who calls me wife, cannot. Even if it means pausing what I think is important to care for and tend to the emotions of the others in my house. The dishes in the sink can wait, but souls can’t.
Entering into 2021, I am not the same person I was in the start of 2020. There has been growth through weathering the hardships, painful as it may have been (and still is in some regards). Bringing with me is the deep sense of hope I have, not in the optimistic glass half-full things are looking up because it’s a new year, but the hope that is grounded in Jesus. A hope secure, whatever the circumstances may be, firmly planted in the Rock, hidden safely under His wing, and strengthened by His might.
Here’s to a New Year, Friend. May you rest in Him.