As this is my first entry in almost a year, I started to fill it with excuses rooted in the harsh reality that has encompassed quite possibly one of the most painful seasons I’ve encountered since losing my husband over a decade ago. Raw anguish. Deep grief. Hopelessness. Those have been the descriptors of most of the past few years. Writing was the furthest thing from my mind. I just could not bring myself to document what was literally killing me. So I ran. I ignored the incessant urge to surrender to my calling, and went into survivor mode. Content to just get by, I went through the motions and hoped they would eventually become a new self-fulfilling prophecy.
Then 2020 began, and I knew pain on a level I didn’t know existed. I felt the collective torment ushered in with the staggering effects of the Australian wild fires, the tragic loss of nine lives on a helicopter, among them Kobe Bryant, the coronavirus pandemic, subsequent loneliness through social distancing and quarantine, and the human rights violations here in the states exposed on our screens and amplified by hashtags such as Black Lives Matter and the countless names of Black men and women murdered by those who should protect and serve. And it was only March.
Although we felt fear, there remained hope that things would get better.
We set benchmarks and thought that surely by the summer, or at the latest Thanksgiving, wrongs would be made right, and the world would make sense again. In the meantime, many of us hunkered down in our quarantine digs and picked up a new hobby, launched a new endeavor, and finally tackled those to-do list items that followed us from last year, and if we’re honest-maybe even the year before. We worked harder, almost in an attempt to silence the fear that had become a part of our day to day. Toilet paper and baking goods were hot ticket items. Our commute to work involved a short trip to our home office set up or couch. The convoluted Zoom, became as much a part of our vocabulary as terms like “unprecedented,” “new normal,” and “social distancing.”
But it didn’t get better. The strongest amongst us entertained doubt, insecurity, and depression as the pandemic become more and more personal, and the effects on our jobs and livelihoods became more apparent. Sh*t got real.
It was still only May. We weren’t even at the halfway mark of the year yet. How much more? What else could possibly happen? A lot more. I’m sure by now, you’ve seen the memes and YouTube parodies of our present-day counterparts having conversations with our pre-pandemic selves. What would you say to yourself that could possibly prepare you for what this year would disrupt and disturb?
When panic ensues, our protective instinct is fight or flight-only this time, flight was not an option. Fighting was our only choice. Some of us, however, made a third choice: to just stop. Stop believing. Cease from hoping in a future. Permanently pausing any instance of trusting good vibes and intentions would be enough to get us through.
I gave up without realizing it. Maybe you can relate? I never planned to stop fighting, on the contrary, I actually thought I had a pretty solid battle strategy. But this year knocked me down in ways I didn’t know I could be hit in. Not to mention I didn’t exactly enter 2020 in my best fighting form. On the contrary, I barely made it out of 2019; I pegged all of my hope on this year being better, and finally ushering in the turnaround I’ve so desperately been waiting and praying for.
So I gave up. My trigger systems recognized upcoming pain, so I shut down. Sure, I continued to pray and ask for help and wisdom, but nothing seemed to work. Is any of this resonating with you? Do you feel as if you’ve taken hit after hit? Have you reached your limit on anticipating a restorative future? Perhaps anxiety and depression has you in a vice grip, and you have little to no strength, let alone motivation to push through one more time. Or maybe every tweet and headline brings with it terror that seems to suffocate you and you can’t quite seem to catch your breath? When was the last time you felt like yourself?
Friend, I make no attempts to downplay or summarize your personal experience in a few words, but I can relate to the resulting emotions painful life interruptions bring with them. So what got me writing again?
How did I pick myself up off the floor and get back to work with gusto and hope again? Perspective. I realized that this truly was a fight for our lives. Literally. Everything we were fighting in a very real virus, was mirrored by the invisible attack on our dreams, drive, and direction.
The forced quarantine made us face ourselves. The real us. The global restrictions forced us to surrender our schedules and fully analyze our “why.” Things we thought we could count on, were exposed to reveal startling weaknesses. The longer things did not seem to change, the more they did.
Here’s the thing, all you need is one catalyst and your story changes. We saw it this year and we’re still dealing with the effects. So why can’t the opposite be true? As low as you’ve gone, is as deep as your new foundation will be. I stubbornly surmise that this is not the promise, therefore, God is not done.
Bottomline, this year isn’t over.
So much can still work in your favor. I believe that nothing catches God by surprise. Not the pandemic. Not your job loss. Not your health prognosis. Not your depression, indifference, or anger, and certainly not the many, many, many times you just stopped. The Creator of the universe, the Lover of your soul, the Author of time is watching over you, and get this-He’s not just a bystander. He’s intimately involved in every detail, storyline, and plot twist of our stories. What catches you off guard, was on God’s schedule. Nothing can happen to you or around you without first passing through His hands. Even your pain has to submit to His perfect plan and will.
“Though He brings grief, He also shows compassion because of the greatness of His unfailing love. For He does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.” Lamentations 3:32,33 NLT
Beautiful soul, if you’re reading this, you will get through this. We’ve already overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to survive. Could it be that the pain you’ve endured this year is propelling you your promise? God will not waste an ounce of your pain. There is so much more in you that needs to be shared and served. Although it may not feel like it, you were built for this. Let’s finish what we started and make everything we’ve suffered, lost, or endured…worth it.
From my heart to yours,