It’s my birthday. Here are my thoughts.
I’ve maybe never been more thankful for life. This year has been a doozy, for all of us. We’ve all been drudging through a pandemic and we all have our “and also’s.” It isn’t even a comparison game, “well my life is harder than yours!” It just feels plain hard across the board. I could list so many challenging things that people close to me have faced. So many circumstances that have pushed us all to the ends of ourselves. And we live in a world that is so divided, our only interaction is on social media where we don’t have conversations we just yell at each other and share our apparently always-right opinions.
Listen, I’m too tired to be a jerk. We are too overwhelmed to be mean to each other. There just isn’t room for it. We have done such a good job at politicizing things that never should have been divisive, alienating groups that should have been each other’s allies, inflicting pain over and over and over again when what we need is to be healing each other.
I am done with it. There is no room for hate when there is already so much pain. We have no space for people’s hurtful words when we already feel like we are living at rock bottom. I apologized to a student for saying something snarky and rude and told her, “we are all at our highest level of stress but it doesn’t give us an excuse to be jerks to each other.” It felt good, because our experience of struggle should lead us towards compassion. Seeing how challenging our world is right now needs to soften us towards each other.
So I am turning 31. And I’ve sort of felt “meh” about it — it doesn’t feel like all that exciting of an age and also this whole season right now feels like a wash to me. 2020 feels like a throw-away. But that is so contradictory to how I view life, so opposite of who I want to be and how I want to live. Every moment matters. Everything is sacred. Each experience means something. And yet, what do we do with 2020? We are emotionally exhausted, pushed to our limits — and then some. We have been isolated physically, and then forced to process incredibly difficult social issues without each other. The people who are meant to keep us informed actually only desire to keep us divided. We read headlines that demand fear and hate rather than action and compassion.
Sometimes when I pause I just want to scream: “how did we get here? What the hell is happening?” How can life be so hard — and then just keep getting harder?
I’m not asking for any kind of pity party. I know in comparison to so many others this season has been a cakewalk for me. There are so, so many things to be grateful for. And I truly believe more than ever that gratitude will be the practice that will save us. I also believe it is okay and right and helpful to sometimes acknowledge that things are just absolutely terrible and hard. That it can feel like you are in a ditch and the world just keeps kicking you while you’re down. There has to be room for both lament and gratitude.
So I enter year 31 haphazardly, unsure and anxious of what it could bring. And also, because I know Jesus, I cannot help but hold hope for some really beautiful things. For new life, for redemption, for health, for JOY, for peace, for unity. If you call yourself a Christ-follower, honestly you just don’t get any other choice but to believe that these things exist and are possible and probable. What is the point of following Him if we do not believe the things He has promised us? He said it: “in this world you will have troubles. But TAKE HEART I have overcome the world.” He is our only hope. He is our everlasting King. He is the only long-lasting goodness in this life and the next. He is the creator of beauty and the restorer of the broken. It is just who He is, there is no way around it. So we just do not have any other choice but to follow Him into hope and beauty and compassion and grace. We don’t get another avenue. Praise God.
He is the God of David — the God of lament and celebration.
He is the God of creation — the God of beauty and brokenness.
He is the God of Lazarus — the God of grief and life.
He is the God of Mary — the God of work and rest.
He is the God of Peter — the God of forgiveness and redemption.
He is the God of the cross — the God who has forgiven our sins and given us eternal life.
So I guess all I can say, entering into a new year of life, is I am beyond convinced of the existence and the faithfulness of the God I follow. I feel it in every fiber of my being and every moment of my days, that He is GOOD and He is PRESENT and He is PAYING ATTENTION. He is surprised by nothing, faithful in everything, and loves us more than we will ever be able to comprehend. While the world and life here is heavy, He is good beyond what we can ever understand. And the solid rock of a promise that we can stand on is that if we choose relationship with Him, we are guaranteed eternal JOY forever. What a gift! How humbling!
In this season, I have found it far too overwhelming, and frankly impossible, to think past the current day. So this year, I am choosing to ask God for daily bread. To take it one day at a time (a lot of the time more like moment by moment) and to ask Him for only what I need in that day. Why worry about tomorrow? We don’t even know that we will see it. All we have is today, with the people right in front of us, and the role we have right now. To assume anything more is unwise.
“Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”