I cannot believe tomorrow if the first day of Autumn, 3 chapters down... my favorite season ushers in as we seek to close out my least favorite year. Well, I say that because aren't we all supposed to say we hate 2020? I mean, I have hated so much of it - feeling robbed of this intrinsic safety my heart normally bears, of experiences for my kiddos (and me) that were erased from the calendar, of normal community that feels slightly awkward in the reopening stages..... feeling disheartened by the political climate, anxious for the growing tensions on what seems to be polarizing debates, broken for the exposed evils of racism, sexism, exploitations, and on and on and on that we have met head on this year.... feeling confused on how we move forward. Yep, I've hated a lot of 2020. I've grieved the reality we find ourselves in as a people, as a nation.
But on the flip side:
I have to pause for a moment and remember March 2020, about 55 years ago, when the world shut down and my family ate every single meal at the table together. When we starting reading "The Chronicles of Narnia" outloud together. When we picked up our new favorite sport together. When we had laughs, fights, tears, dance-parties, new recipes, old stories and time stood still. I'll cherish those memories and moments, forever.
And then I think about when May 2020 arrived and our neighbors became like family. Eating dinners on my driveway, almost nightly, while playing hours of pickleball and doing chalk mosaics. And how sweet the reunions were when we hugged our extended family for the first time... or had our first outside-only playdate with our best friends. Birthday parades galore that made this mama cry every. single. time.
Summer 2020... you were so dear to us. We may have scrapped some of our bigger plans, but we flew by the seat of our pants and experienced the beach, the mountains, the trails, the lakes, and we did it on the road. Countless hours giving our kids the first-class suburban car ride of their lives all over the country. Mornings needing to wear a sweatshirt and evenings when you had to slip it back on by the fire. Logging miles of hikes, breathing fresh air, and turning the world off for just a moment... butterflies fill my stomach just thinking back on it all.
With the start of school came a gush of grace. Kids excited to wake up and head to a place where they will wear a mask all day, cluster off from the student body and essentially quarantine with their class... and they bound home every. single. day. with more and more stories of why they have never been happier. Settling into odd current normals and a calendar that is starting to refill - volleyball games, baseball games, soccer games, horseback riding, bible study... its such sweet, sweet grace.
I wonder if we all pause and reflect back on the actual inner workings of our families this year what that would do for our posture. It is easy to say on the whole that 2020 is the worst. But when I go back and read my quick account... good gracious it was so wonderful.
We've had to look evil in the face and repent.
We've had to face missed expectations and bravely shepherd ourselves and our peeps through it.
We've had the chance to stop, evaluate and discern the paths our calendars and busyness was taking us on - having the opportunity to change its trajectory.
We've had the opportunity to look our people in the face, day after day.
We've come to realize our calling to love others more than we do ourselves - checking in and loving on those who don't have the same family support as we do.
We've had time to ponder what we stand for, what battles are worth picking, to listen to the other arguments (like truly, just listen).
Have you taken the time to realize these little blessings? These opportunities that you've had in the hardest, but dare I say most life-changing, year of our lives? It is not too late.
Tomorrow, we usher in the final season. Colors will change (well, us Texans can only hope) and leaves will fall. Shedding. Though so beautiful, dying. I pray with every cool breeze we can feel the grace for the moment. As we look on colored trees we see how change can be a beautiful, breath-taking, thing. As they fall and we scoop them up off of our lawns, we would think about what we could shed off of our own sinful, selfish, prideful, anxious, fearful, ignorant, obstinate selves.
As we close out 2020 we would look back on this last chapter and our hearts would swell with the memories made, the lessons learned, the changes incurred, the beauty in it all. May God be so gracious to us to give us eyes to see past the temporary annoyances, the frustrating moments, the heartbreaking realities most-likely still yet to be revealed.... and give us eternal perspective.
Jesus... Change us, like you do these leaves. Shed off the parts that need to die in us, like you do on the trees. Bring beauty out of it all. We don't want to leave 2020 unchanged.
Chapter 4, we are ready for you.