It’s been awhile. Looking back, my last post was in January of 2020 and it was inspired by New Year’s resolutions and hopes for a bright 2020. Shortly after the post, we entered into February and March, which was full of hustle and bustle in our household as we prepared for the arrival of Charlie. And then in mid-March, as we all know too well, the nation shut down as Covid cases increased. After the first week of lockdown, Charlie was born on March 24, and he became our bright spot in the midst of uncertainty.
Since then, I have embraced more emotions than I count. Fear, sadness, happiness, loneliness, amazement, gratitude, and survival come to mind when I reflect over 2020. I sat down numerous times to write another post, but I struggled with finding the right words. In fact, I still do. How can I encourage hope when we are all grieving some type of loss? Because that is the truth. We all lost something in 2020. Many people had to change their wedding celebrations; others changed their birth plans; we saw businesses close; schools shifted to online learning; outdoor gatherings have replaced intimate dinner parties; and many of us lost loved ones.
I know we are told to be resilient or to find the upside in these circumstances. And I can see where they are coming from. There are many aspects of this past year for which I am grateful for. Life has slowed down considerably. My husband is working from home which has allowed us to spend more quality time together. For example, we now eat dinner every night as a family around 5:30. And even though it can be stressful to take a pause from our work day or even find time to prepare a home cooked meal, we at least have the option to eat together. And once we sit down as a family, it is the most special part of our day. If Brandon was working in his office, we would be lucky if was home before 7:00, and this family dinner experience would not happen. We are also lucky to have our parents nearby and they are all healthy. Even though we may not see each other as often as we would like, we are grateful for FaceTime picnic parties and WhatsApp bathtime shenanigans. I am grateful we live in Georgia where the weather has allowed us to set up outdoor play dates and patio brunches. I am thankful for all the video technology which has allowed my bible study to meet virtually, and has also kept me close with my college friends even when we are states apart. I know we all can list many things we are grateful for, but it doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge the losses.
When you lose a child like we did, you would never say to me, “Well at least you still have two children who are healthy and alive.” If a friend experienced a miscarriage, you wouldn’t tell her, “Well at least you can get pregnant.” Or if your neighbor loses his father, you wouldn’t say, “At least your dad lived for 50 years. That’s more than some get.” Even though those statements are true, when you are grieving, these aren’t the words that bring hope or help you heal from the pain. And even if these statements become the “silver lining” in terrible situations, when you are hurting, they do not provide comfort. So why should we treat this pandemic any differently? Why shouldn’t you mourn what was lost and recognize the struggles we are currently facing?
Now, I know this doesn’t sound hopeful, but it might help us heal. And it’s important to heal in order to become hopeful. Sometimes in order to swim through the grief, we must recognize what is lost. We have to yell and scream at the top of our lungs. We are allowed to be sad. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to feel whatever you want to feel right now. But, as you find yourself swimming through these emotions, you must ask for help. In fact, we all could use a life preserver right about now to avoid drowning in these circumstances. We might be fortunate enough to turn towards friends and family to help us navigate through these waters, but we must also look to our Heavenly Father. When I’m feeling lost or sad, I always open my heart to God, because I know He will not only heal my pain, but He will also leave me overflowing with peace.
Besides prayer, scripture is another raft we need to use when we are struggling to stay afloat. There are many stories in the Bible and verses that help me find a new perspective when dealing with life’s losses. Look at the story of Job. Job lost virtually everything he had – his wealth, his children, even his health. His first reaction was to rise up, tear off his clothes and shave his head, and fall to the ground and worship. He went through the process of searching for answers as to why this happened to him. Job’s wife told him to curse God; his friends came to comfort him, but when he did not get over his grief quickly, they added to his pain. But Job continued to praise God. He never denied his pain or suffering, but he chose to praise God. Job was never ashamed to grieve, but he always praised God. And in the end, the suffering he experienced, was a result of God’s love. And because of this, he was greatly blessed by God. Imagine the blessings God has in store for us as we recognize the greatest gifts in our suffering. By praising God when we are grieving we end up experiencing His best gift for us – that He is always with us. And once we do this, the sadness or the feeling of defeat disappears. We are left with peace, a full heart, and a feeling that we are never alone. If we continue to sing His praises, He will bless us and reward us. He will give us peace when we need it most.
When you turn your life over to Him, and thank Him for our losses and our blessings, your heart will reflect God’s love for you. And in the midst of chaos, you will carry a peace with you that everyone will notice. I hope that as we enter into 2021, we recognize that the change of the calendar will not erase the pains of our past; nor will it be a magical solution for our future. Instead, we must embrace where we are. Thank God for our joys and our sufferings. Lean on Him, and He will get us through whatever comes our way. Continue to praise Him, and you will be amazed at how He rewards you.