Now that 2022 has arrived, I’m reflecting on 2021, which leaks back to 2020, due to COVID-19 and its siblings, Delta and Omicron.
Hostile politics have also blurred the borders because we’ve been snapping at each other about vaccines, climate change, and election outcomes for two years. 2020 and ’21 have simply morphed together in my mind because it feels like 24 months of the same stuff.
Remember the Notre Dame cathedral fire in Paris that destroyed its beautiful spire? That was 2019. Oh yeah, that feels like a different time frame, a different year. 2020 and 2021? Not so much. Just one long slog.
As I was trying to assess the lessons and growth (or lack thereof) over this period of the pandemic, social disruption, and political discord, I came across minimalist Joshua Becker’s questions to ask yourself as the year ends. I chose a few that spoke to me and added a few of mine own. These seven questions gave me some guidelines on how to sort out the diamonds and losses of the past two years. If you are a bit befuddled by what the past 104 weeks have shown you, you might find these helpful as well.
1. What made this year (or long slog) unforgettable?
For me, it was two things: Covid, of course, and all the havoc it has wreaked on the world. It has certainly impacted my life, as well as the lives of those I love. The coronavirus and its tentacles flattened everybody. By the virus itself, or work/funds lost, or the emotional strain of all the isolation. So many people did not survive it, and everyone who did emerge has a tale.
My current tale is that the hubs and I are currently battling Covid. We received positive tests yesterday, after 3 days of head cold symptoms. We are coping, dragging along with oranges, decongestants, frequent naps, and hours of 1980s sitcom reruns. The encouraging news is that we are both vaxxed and boostered, so we are as strong as we’re ever going to be in dealing with this thing. We feel pooped and crummy, but we are not incapacitated.
I think the world is going to have to learn how to live with Covid and all its relatives.
Secondly, both of my parents passed in 2020, although it felt like Dad’s departure was closer to 2021, as it was just two weeks before the New Year began. Again, blurred lines. It has now been a year since Dad died, and we are just a week away from Mom’s two-year anniversary. Mom was ready and went peacefully. Dad was not, and struggled. I am at peace with Mom’s passing; I still well up thinking about my father’s final months.
2. What did you enjoy doing this long slog?
In general, I honestly did not mind the eight months of isolation/staying home during the early Covid months. I cleaned out the house and 1,500 emails. I sewed almost 200 masks and learned a lot about making sourdough bread. I spent many delightful hours with our daughter who was in between jobs, awaiting her start in grad school. I cleaned out my recipes/alphabetized them and created new binders for them, something I’ve wanted to do for 20 years. I had long phone conversations with two high school friends I had not chatted with in years, and I discovered the Masterpiece Theater series Poldark (more on that later.)
More specifically, when life opened up a bit, I traveled to NC to see our two young grandsons. After losing Dad, their enthusiasm for life gave me renewed joy and wonder.
How can you not smile at these two adorable goofs?
3. What one thing am I grateful for?
So, so many things. But one scripture rose up over and over the past two years that carried me through various uncertainties.
Be still and know that I am God. Ps. 46:10
This has always been a valued verse in my adult life, but over the past 24 months, it became a renewed touchstone for me.
During the final days of my folks’ passing, when I didn’t know what to say or do next, when I was beyond sad…be still and know that I am God.
When our beloved pastor died suddenly and my mind and heart could not comprehend it….be still and know that I am God.
As I prepared for hip replacement surgery...be still and know that I am God.
As I took a job I felt completely incompetent to do…be still and know that I am God. (Side note: God does this to me often – gives me things I don’t want to do, would not choose to do, but alas, as I simply obey…good things always occur. It’s annoying.)
As people in my life have cornered me about vaccines or political positions…be still and know that I am God. It’s not necessary to snipe at each other. Snark and condemnation have never changed anyone’s mind about anything. But God can change anyone’s heart in silence.
Be still and know that I am God.
This scripture has given me a haven and comfort that mankind cannot supply. It’s OK to just be quiet and know that God is God, and I am not. This truth is what I’m most grateful for these past two years.
4. What did I watch/read that made an impact on me?
I watched Poldark (on Amazon Prime) and fell in love with the 18th-century Cornwall countryside. I have to admit, I’ve watched the whole thing (5 seasons) twice since mid-2020. I have never seen anything so beautifully filmed. Gorgeous coastlines, horses galloping with speed and grace, and elegant wardrobes of the elite in contrast to the poor and ragged miners scraping by. The two main characters are heroic and flawed, and I welled up just about every episode. If you have not seen Poldark, put it on your ‘to-watch’ list for 2022. Way better than Downton.
Something I read just recently has had staying power with me. In an interview talking about her open heart surgery last year, songwriter Amy Grant shared that her morning prayer is this: Lord, lead me today to those I need, and to those who need me. And help me do something of eternal significance.
I love that, and it has become my daily prayer too.
5. What was the biggest surprise during this long slog?
A friend of mine offered me a job. When I was 64 and out of the workforce for 12 years. It made me laugh. You can read about that HERE.
I continue to be surprised by this job. How much suffering there is in the world, how blessed I am to have had a stable upbringing, how marvelous it is that there are people in the world who feel called to counsel the wounded.
6. What made me laugh the hardest?
Believe it or not, a fall. My son and his family were here for Christmas week and one afternoon we were on the back patio enjoying the perfect weather. My son and I were sitting on our swing that was suspended on a metal A-frame. Out of the blue, the swing broke and we landed hard on our behinds and then rolled to our backs. It was an uncomfortable tumble, but no major injuries.
We could not stop laughing. The hubs came to help us up, but we just laid there, howling. Loud belly laughs that went on for minutes. It was hilarious. My son arose first, and he and the hubs tried to get me up, but I could not stop cackling.
I finally rolled and came to my feet. And kept laughing…
7. Something I learned/realized about myself
That I can claim peace in my life if I choose to. That I can limit worry and frustration in my life. I’ve always known this is true, but I have not been good at remembering it or practicing it. It takes discipline to retreat when I want to bark at someone. It takes a conscious redirection of the mind when I become anxious about something.
I think living through some worrisome events I could not control these past 24 months – the passing of my folks and other loved ones, a deteriorating hip, political divisions, and Covid’s devastation – it was revealed to me over and over that my upset or agitation does not change a thing.
Through the events above, I realized what I longed for most was simply peace of mind. The older I get, the more I just want peace of mind. Negativity and personal attacks don’t bring anything helpful to the table. They just fuel the turbulence.
So, I found myself retreating from arguments/discussions of contention. Unless I could bring a viewpoint of God’s love and truth to a situation, I practiced just being quiet. Not all the time, but more than I used to. And I want to get better at it. I don’t want to be an unproductive voice.
So, here it is again…be still and know…
I don’t know what 2022 will bring, (so far, a busted TV, a dead car battery for our girl, a still-healing broken toe, and Covid in our house) but God is still in charge, so I place my faith in that.
If you want to review the “long slog” we’ve just come through, ask yourself these 7 questions and see what you come up with. If you’d rather forget the whole thing, that’s OK too.
Either way, let’s try to move forward together.