When I sit and make a list of things that happened in 2020 it is so crazy I just start laughing.
It started off with Taylor and me committing to travel more with and without the kids. He ordered a special calendar just for planning our trips. (Last week I tossed it in the garbage and we laughed our heads off.)
We did start off strong on that goal. I had an amazing mom and sisters trip to Austin and Waco, we spent three days at Disneyland as a family, having the absolute time of our lives, Taylor took the two littlest on a fantastic Portland weekend adventure, and I spent a glorious first week of March in Palm Springs for Alt Summit, my favorite conference for bloggers and creatives.
The kids were thriving in school, Taylor was preparing for a 50k, I was teaching religion to high school students and loving it.
Then came that day in March when the world stopped. Every single school and extra curricular event was cancelled. The children were sent home. Taylor had to lay himself and many employees off. I will never forget the painful burden that was for him. We braced for the unknown with the business.
Everything was cancelled. Blaine’s State Geography finals, Brainbowl finals, and 8th grade trip to San Francisco. Our spring trip to Arizona, the family reunion in Black Butte, Taylor’s race, our long awaited vacation to London.
That was all disappointing and hard, but I knew our pandemic woes paled in comparison to most around the world.
Then Clara broke her elbow and needed surgery. Then George fell eleven feet and got a concussion. (This is the part that isn’t funny at all but makes me laugh because it’s so ridiculous making a running list of all the crazy stuff that happened.)
What came next is the part that just blows my mind.
School was cancelled for the fall. I had a breakdown as I braced for virtual school at home. On day one, suddenly none of it mattered, as our valley caught fire and thousands of people lost their homes and businesses. (Driving through the destruction is soul crushing to this day.) We took in a family of four that we knew from Taylor’s work, and housed them for 2 1/2 months. In the midst of this we started back up with virtual school and I homeschooled five kinders a couple of afternoons per week. (This part of the list makes me laugh a little too, because, just wow.)
(Also this list is to say nothing of the reckoning with racism we are working through as a society or the most tumultuous election season of my life and the complicated feelings and stress associated with all of it.)
And yet, I’m still so aware that so many people have struggled so much more. Even though my mental health tanked and our children struggled and our marriage went through a lot, we came out of it hanging in there. We watched several dear friends lose beloved family members this year and I can hardly begin to know their pain.
So what? What is the point of such a list or reflection? Obviously as the calendar page turns at midnight, we will still be fighting a pandemic. Nothing will change in an instant. But, as the vaccine rolls out, I face the hoped-for reality that normal life is coming. Will it be the same normal? Or a new normal? I can’t predict how much we will have collectively changed as a people. But I can decide whether I will come out just having survived (which is plenty noble), or if I will come out changed a bit. Will I have increased capacity for chaos, change, and flexibility? Will I have stronger faith and hope in God and humanity? What will my relationships look like?
I think, without necessarily even “trying,” every human is coming out of this as a different person. I think we’ve all proven ourselves more hopeful and adaptable than we ever could have believed we could be.
Rather than set my traditional annual goals, this year I’m reflecting on just who I want to be as we come out of this period, stifled in many ways, in a crucible of sorts. Will I be more wise? More compassionate? More quick to give of my abundance or even my want? Slower to anger with my children? What will I value the most? Will I let the things I’ve learned remain with me, will I be truly changed my them?
When I opened my sister’s Christmas card a few weeks ago, I instantly burst into tears. The caption she had chosen to print across the photo of their beautiful family was “the weary world rejoices.”
I love “Oh Holy Night” and I rejoice in the birth of Christ, but in this moment the phrase took on new meaning. The vaccine had just begun to ship out to every state that very week, and it was the most hopeful moment I had had in 9 months. THE WEARY WORLD REJOICES. There has been astonishing division this year, and yet we have mourned and struggled together. Every human on earth was touched by the same calamity. (As mentioned earlier, it absolutely has not been an equal struggle, yet it is something we all have in common.) And now, as we can see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, we, the weary world, can begin to rejoice. The question that remains to be seen is, will we? Will we rejoice together? Will that same “we’re all in this together” feeling from March come back as we begin to gather once again? Will we hold each other? Will we celebrate with more zeal? I hope we become a generation that never takes being together for granted ever again. Family holidays, weddings, funerals, concerts, festivals, amusement parks, even crowded subways and restaurants. I hope we are forever changed by this. I hope we can come out of this more unified as humans, more willing to bear one another’s burdens and celebrate with one another.
Of course these are just the hopes of a 39 year old woman who has a tender heart and loves to follow every good news account on Instagram. She believes in humanity.
The things is, in regards to both these individual and collective outcomes, I absolutely believe the power is in us to come out of this whatever way we choose. Of course I don’t mean that we have power over how this has changed us physically or financially or even emotionally. But I do think we can choose to hope. And I think we can choose to rely on and support one another in ways that we didn’t a year ago.
I think, if we have eyes to see it, this moment in time can become something beautiful. I think this collective pain and struggle can birth new unity.
I’m here for it.