Hope

Being Upheld and Holding Up

We made it! We saw the end of a difficult year and now we turn the page for the next chapter.

I have never been the “what’s my word of the year” person or been super big on sitting down and writing down a list of goals, but I do take the time to reflect, review and look forward to a fresh page. 

As I am reflecting, talking with God and thinking about what has happened and what has yet to happen, I hear Him telling me, “Take forward with you all the good, and the bad, because without one there isn’t the other.”

The recovering instant-gratification girl would really like to be able to button up the crazy 2020 chapter with a pretty little bow, but the living-in-the-moment girl knows that’s pretty much not remotely possible. 

I hear Him whisper, “I have upheld you. I have strengthened you” and I KNOW that to be true. So, when I think of being upheld and how I am holding up and how we are collectively holding up I can not only think of what I personally have faced in the last 12 months, but so many other people I know as well. Not one person I know has had a stellar year, but we have all had opportunity and reason to take some stellar lessons with us into the next one. 

How have I been strengthened? How have you been strengthened? Through trouble and hardship; mourning and loss; and division and drama. I think I am familiar with that territory. He has a great track record of holding me up, strengthening me through the stretching of faith muscles and trust muscles, and I have held up just fine. It was not painless, but it was an exercise in what to hold on to and what to let go of. 

My relationship with God is stronger. It’s being held up. My relationship with my siblings is stronger. Those relationships are being held up. My connection with my dad is stronger, and it was held up through the strain his children are experiencing facing a horrible set of circumstances with our mother-his ex wife. My relationship with my mom, the person that hurt me the most, loved me the worst, and did the very best she could do at the time is stronger. He is holding it up and I am being held through every challenging piece of the story while the book comes closer to the ending. 

My reflection is this: what do I want to carry with me, and what do I want to leave behind? I tell you, I don’t think I can leave one piece of it behind. Since He has a great way of using all things for His glory and our good, I don’t think we can just spit out the things and pieces that leave a bad taste in our mouths. Instead, we take it all forward. Without the bad, there cannot be the good. Without darkness, nobody can see the light. 

The situations, circumstances, changes and losses of this last year will always serve a bigger purpose if we let them. I will take forward the moments of hard; the times that isolation became too heavy; and the days that felt like they were years long because there was a limit placed on what we could do, where we could go and what we could do. The extra bonus complications that the pandemic brought also brought out creativity. I had to get creative many times over in how I was going to afford another special memory for my mom or with my mom. I did not always like it or see it as a great opportunity, and I bitched, moaned and complained. But being held up, helped up and held onto by my God meant that I would soon see the blessings even in the many bummers once again. I still saw 365 sunrises and sunsets. I still had love and loss and all in betweens. I had major milestone high moments and some really ugly low moments. I had a lot of BIG feelings and I didn’t hide from them. I had a lot of opinions and still managed to do what I could to keep my mouth shut in wisdom and grace. 

As a reminder for you and I, He will strengthen us. None of us truly can get through our lives without Him being the good God that He is. His strength to carry us out of, over, and through the things He knew were coming is all we have to get us through the hardest of days. 

When this period of history is written in the books, I hope that we can reflect on all the good in it. Many times before in our history, in our personal lives we have gone through dark things (addictions, divorces, child loss, death, etc.) and He has given us wisdom, peace, recovery and growth beyond our understanding. I am confident that He will continue to do the exact same thing with all of this and whatever comes next. 

So, thank you 2020 for all that you have taught us. Thank you Jesus for what you have upheld us through. Truly. We have all experienced more love for our neighbor; more creativity in difficult times; more compassion for those with less resources, less family or those that don’t even know that they belong to You as Your children; and we have all experienced the loss, rebuilding and value of community and basic human decency. 

Welcome 2021, we are stronger than whatever silliness you have to throw us, we are being upheld by the One true God and we are not just ready to hold up but to level up. 

Hope, Keeping it Real

Flipping the Script

Since this entire year seems to have been flipped upside down and is nothing like any of us would have imagined or dreamed, I may as well just start thinking about what else can be flipped upside down. 

Way back about 47 months ago, the word “intentional” was placed on my heart. Like 2020 was going to be the year full of intentional friendships, time, giving, self-care and adventures. Well, I suppose it has been and still is but it looks on the outside a whole lot different than I thought it would. 

What about you? Did He give you a word? Do you do that? Disclaimer: I don’t sit down and ask God to give me a word that defines my year or any of that stuff, it just sort of happened without my asking for it or doing some sort of special ceremonial ritual. I was thinking about it and since He can hear our thoughts and knows our every need there it was. 

So the lifetime months since the beginning of this pandemic have really flipped the script on a lot of things. From social connection, to social isolation; from external self-care to internal self-care; from outward physical affection to asking for permission to hug your best friend; and the list goes on.

One of the things that has been flipped upside down AGAIN in my own heart and mind is self care. For me, that looked like the textbook examples of napping, time alone to recharge,  journaling, reading, quiet time with God, etc. It still does include all of that.

 But the definition of self care has been changed once again to include more than just those wonderful things and I am beginning to understand how He is at work to get me to surrender to His will. I think that is what is happening anyway. 

One of the things that this expert-level recovering codependent tends to do in their unhealthy coping mechanisms is to go from one extreme to another and also to slide into a place of isolation as a means of protection. Sound familiar? I used to do that all the time and I know where the slippery slope is. 

Do you know your slippery slope? We all do, but this whole idea of social distancing and self care can be turned into Satan’s playground if we are not careful and accountable and connected to the people who will call us out on our crap. Right?  

So, now I have the understanding of the word intentional and how, no matter what is happening in the world outside the door today, that God still has a plan for my life, my year, and my today. 

I am intentionally choosing to flip the script on what self care means. I am choosing to accept the things I can and let go of what I cannot control. I am choosing to seek His guidance for knowing the difference and desperately seeking courage to do the things. 

I am flipping the script in the middle of the year in what has got to be the craziest way yet that God has used to get my attention. Where are you with all of this crazy? Are you choosing to lean in to see what He has for you in this? Do you need to redefine some things? Because it appears that He has us in this storm for a little while longer.