One of my favorite things in changing from one season to the next, is noticing the subtle changes in nature. Many times in late winter when those daffodils begin to pop through the soil, typically on the road side, by heart skips a beat. “Green!” I think to myself, and sometimes say out loud to whomever might be listening. “Did I just see fresh green?”
The first sight of what is a promise to come. When the winter still screams at us of it’s lasting presence, the spring announces that she is on the way. God’s very thumbprint. He seems to say to us, an echo from His word, “I know this is what you’re experiencing now. But just hang on. I know what’s coming next though you cannot perceive it yet.”
I must admit there are certainly times that I wonder, are these bulbs confused? Surely they will not make it, they’ve popped up far too early. It’s just a series of warm days, there’s a cold snap a comin’. Everything in me wants to clamour for control. “I should cover them up” the internal conversation begins. Is it just me?
Seasons of life are much the same. They come and they go. Times of rejoicing. Times of great sorrow. Relationships change because people change. Ideally we are all on a path to a better version of ourselves. This I’ll save for another conversation. Suffice is to say that it’s impossible for us to not change. Even when we are still the composition of our body changes. When we think we’ve just “unplugged” for a bit on some mindless TV, scrolling social media, or whatever other vice we may have, the composition of our brain is changing. New neuro pathways are being either forged (if this is a new pattern of behavior) or fortified (if this is an ongoing pattern of behavior.). Again, probably a conversation for another day. But just know when we, yes myself included, participate in this, we have become a complicit commodity. Bought and sold. Modern day slavery. Alas, I digress…
Humanly speaking, change is hard. Change requires a momentum shift. That, right there, is the hardest part. To stop the trajectory. I am about begin teaching this concept in January to my fourth grader, so I have just enough knowledge to be dangerous.
What is this momentum called? Kinetic energy. Or “motion” energy. And how might one STOP this kinetic energy?
I’m an extremely visual individual. Word pictures, graphs, spreadsheets, diagrams, sketches, pie charts… ok, you get the picture. These things speak to me! So, for this example let’s use the illustration of a vehicle driving down the road. For some of us, a comfortable traveling speed is somewhere around 30-45 MPH, and for others 80+ is more you speed. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!)
Let’s imagine traveling at whatever selected speed and removing your foot from the gas. No brake. Just coasting. Why do you begin to slow down? Great job class! Force!
Force can be gentle, like air. Or it can be more violent, like a tree.
Can we all agree that 2020 has been a FORCED STOP?
Each of us were cruising into this year at a different speed. Some takin’ it “easy like Sunday morning” (thank you Lionel Richie and the Commodores), and others “driving too fast” (Rolling Stones.)
Which were you?
Whether you were driving too fast or attempting to slow down, 2020 was most certainly the tree. At some point in this last year, I imagine you’ve had a moment that it hit you. When we face the casualties of life, we are often forced to ask the question, “what matters?”
Sometimes those casualties can be that of a loved one. A grandparent, parent or other close family member. No matter the age, it always seems they’ve left us too soon. Or perhaps a loved one you’ve lost, that you never knew. Losing a life before it’s even begun. Tragedy I wish upon no one. Hard to believe this could be someone’s “choice” in this day and age.
Other casualties could be that of a job, travel plans or dreams that were dashed away. We have some dear friends that had an epic trip through Europe planned for much of the summer. Gone. Many in our country have lost jobs, if not entirely they have found their hours and benefits drastically cut. I have someone immeasurably close to me that lost their first child. What can you even say to that.
Perhaps the casualty of a relationship or friendship.
Some came sailing into 2020 wondering how life could get any better. “You know,” they would say, “life’s really good right now.” I’m most curious about these folks. What did God allow to bubble to the surface you didn’t even know was there? We’ve all got stuff.
Me you ask? A little bit of both. One foot on each pedal. Every year, for the past several years, I’ve selected a word for the year. I don’t always share what it is, it’s just a word that God has laid on my heart. Sometimes it comes before the ball drops and sometimes a month or so into the year. I came into 2020 with the word “vision.” Believe it or not, that word was on my heart and in my writings before it ever dawned on me. 2020. Vision. Really… My dad is an optometrist – he would be so proud.
Vision. My prayer for the first several months was, “Lord help me see through your eyes.” An all encompassing prayer really, but more specifically it became, “Father help me see others through your eyes.” Compassion is something that God has been building in me the last couple of years. As we got into 2020 a bit further the prayer became, “God help me see me through your eyes.”
When this prayer passed through my lips, it was as if I were floating in space. No sound. A vacuum. The silence of snow.
And then a warm swell in my eyes. And down my cheek.
(Pause on that thought. Talk about tears… Look who literally just walked into my room with a special delivery. And as I eat (and type) is now serenading me with my favorite song on the piano. Canon in D. He’s been working so hard on it.)
The truth is I’ve been going through an undoing. It started about four and a half years ago, but has really come to a head this year. It’s been a struggle. I’ve been forced to face demons from the past and bring light to those dark places in my heart. Therapy (for ongoing PTSD), counseling (for my past to present) and most importantly time with my Savior in the Word (who has never left my side.)
Though I’m not ready to share all of my story here, know that this year has been hard. I know I’m not alone. Chances are it’s been a hard year for you too. At least in some respect. The point being, we’ve all been traumatized by this pandemic.
I don’t want to get political or divisive, but instead give some perspective. From shutdowns to masks, riots to elections, it has been a year of polarization. No matter where you stand on each of these topics, we have to be willing to listen. And I would proffer that we can’t hear one another if we’re shouting over top of each other. Listening is different than hearing. We all “hear” a lot of things. Listening implies intent to understand.
May I speak for some out there who have been silenced? Myself included. Moving about in a world of masked individuals is an ongoing trauma. Would you please be kind to us? Whether it’s medical problems, anxiety or PTSD, for some – all of the above or something else entirely. Don’t pretend to know the motivation behind another. You don’t know if you don’t ask. But do know that just by asking “why” can be a trigger for some.
Instead let’s all give one another an extra measure of grace. The truth is you (or I) don’t have to know “why.” We can just love someone where they are by having compassion on one another.
Some encouragement as we move into a “New Year.”
There are many that I’ve spoken to that cannot wait for 11:59pm on December 31st, 2020 to kiss the old year “good bye and good riddance.” And while that is all well and good, and we could all use a fresh start, the turning over of a clock, dropping of a ball and new digit on the end of a year will not stop the problems that already exist. That is going to take intentionality.
If the change doesn’t start from somewhere deeper, it will not be a keeper. You cannot will effective lasting change.
How did 2020 go for you? What would you like to see change in 2021? I would argue that God has allowed this fork in the road of your life for a purpose. Right now. A choice has to be made.
Will you cling to 2021 and this fleeting life you have here on earth. Or will you live in the freedom that the promise of eternity affords you?
As our family steps into a new year with many unknowns on the horizon, we will choose to praise Him. In the midst of the storms and on the mountain tops. He is good. All the time.