“Everything happens for a reason.”
Is there anything more infuriating than hearing those words when you’re in a season of feeling like you are being buried alive; in a hole that you are certain your will never emerge from; screaming “Really, we’re supposed to believe You have some grand plan in all of this?”; crawling through life with a soul so tired that you find yourself praying, “Jesus, I would be okay if You just decided my time here was done.”
2020 has been that season for me. It didn’t start that way but as 2 weeks to “flatten the curve” turned into 9 months of “Do nothing. Go nowhere. See no one.” I, and the millions of others with mental health and addiction issues, found myself in a battle for my life I hadn’t been in for almost 20 years. Staying alive became a daily task. As isolation turned from days to weeks to months and the life I’d built, for the “not just a wife and Mama” part of me, came to a halt, I found it harder and harder to make it through the next 5 seconds.
How egotistical is it to claim I love Jesus, consider His word to be Holy and of God, and yet want to be so in control.
January 1, 2020: Find Rest
I came into 2020 with a goal of slowing down; with full intention of learning to be comfortable doing nothing; with saying “No.” not feeling like I let people down, because sometimes “No.” is a Holy word; with a hope of finding time for me that didn’t feel like I was alone. “Find Rest” felt like the perfect “Two Word Resolution” to follow 2018 and 2019: “Be Intentional” and “Get To” (as opposed to “Have To”).
What I thought 2020 would be…
- Taking a step out of my comfort zone and find a place where an empty date on my calendar didn’t leave me feeling like I wasted a day but instead an opportunity to take time to pray about, dream and start to map out what life after The Launch would look like.
- Preparing for The Launch because it was going to happen, and soon, regardless of my wanting it to or being ready.
- Sitting down to read actual books, rather than just listen to them in between appointments on my calendar, while grocery shopping or during the hours I spent in my car running from one place to the next.
- Write more and journal daily.
- Learn to sit in the quiet and enjoy the company of me, myself and I.
- Above all else, be diligent in carving out a space to ask Jesus how in the heck I was supposed to do any of that.
What 2020 actually was…
- White knuckle grip on the steering wheel due to months and months of someone else telling us where we could and could not go, who we could or could not see, and what to wear while doing anything we were allowed to do, while trying to approach The Launch as a celebration, not a loss.
- Organizing and reorganizing because my kitchen cabinets needed five “empty then put it all back somewhere else” sessions before they started to make sense. Because I needed folders, notebooks and bins and move my office furniture more than once so the space (in which nothing was happening) would allow me to be more productive. Because “I never really liked the couch there”, “I wonder if we mount the TV on this wall would it cut down on the glare”, “I wasn’t totally sold on this paint color when we picked it out” might somehow make me feel like I could control something.
- Mourning The Launch, fearing it would reduce me to nothingness, certain it would destroy me and leave me a shell of a human being.
- Wanting something to do, then when I had something to do finding myself completely unable to do it because I forgot to, lacked the energy or put it off so I would have something to do the next day.
- Months and months of my mental health taking blow after blow, of answering the phone or returning a text message becoming increasingly difficult, of brushing my teeth being the success of the day and washing my hair being cause for a victory parade, of loneliness I’d hoped would never find me again, of staying alive simply because it seems very selfish to throw my dark sadness onto the people I love the most just so I don’t have to endure it any longer.
- Forgetting Jesus is in charge because it’s always an epic disaster when I try to be.
2020 hasn’t been a year of “Find Rest” for me. It could have been – the calendar emptied quickly and the time to wonder what comes next, think about who I wanted to be after The Launch, for reading, for writing, for journaling, for sitting in the company of me, myself and I, became abundant. And if there was ever a season to seek out Jesus, and do so often, this year has been it. There have been countless opportunities for rest, reflection and rejuvenation. I came into the year hoping to tiptoe into all of that. Jesus wasn’t so much about dipping my toes to test the water; He was more about jumping in with both feet. I didn’t feel capable of swimming, grew weary of treading water and started to drown under the weight of all the things I couldn’t control, forgetting there was someone standing on the water and willing to pull me up if I would just put out my hand.
January 1, 2021: Let Go
I pick my resolution around November every year and these two words for 2021 couldn’t be more appropriate. First, as a way to cope with our “new normal” (two words I wish could be wiped from our vocabulary) and remember all of the amazing things that can happen when I don’t let change control me. Second, to remind myself to celebrate The Launch; smile at C finding some freedom that comes with getting your driver’s license, enjoy watching him become who he was made to be and see him just be C, not J’s little brother C; cheer like crazy when J signs his letter of intent for college golf, beam with pride when I see him in his cap and gown, and cry more tears of joy than sadness when we move him into a dorm 8 ½ hours from home so he can chase his dreams. Third, and most important, to have a daily reminder about who is in charge and to let Him be.
During one of my numerous stays in a mental health facility, or psych ward as we lovingly referred to them before the days of mental health facilities that didn’t feel like a dungeon existed, my Dad visited and brought me two things: a daily devotional for women and a copy of AA’s Big Book. (I’m not an addict, though I certainly have the traits to become one.) He didn’t bring me a copy of a book centered in giving your “ick” to a Higher Power and another filled with words inspired by the only Higher Power I knew to exist so I could overcome addiction or cure my brain. He brought them because he knows there is a power and usefulness in those 12 Steps that extends far beyond addiction and to give me 365 reminders about who can make those steps possible, because you can’t get through all 12 without going through the first three: 1) I’m powerless over the “ick”, 2) There’s someone who does have power over the “ick” and 3) Turning the “ick” over to Him makes it so much easier to not be owned by the “ick” so I can ultimately find ways to use it to be the person He made me to be.
So many of us are bolting into 2021 and finding it nearly impossible to glean anything from 2020 that could serve us in the new year. When I sat down in November to find 2021’s two words, “Everything happens for a reason.” came to mind and I started to consider that maybe the “reason” was to make it clear that I’m not in charge; not of my life or my kids or our finances or the people I do life with or the community I live in or with what comes next. I can’t fix everyone or everything. It’s time to accept leaving behind the people, ideas, expectations and things no longer meant for me. I need to let Jesus run the show before I make a mess that can’t be undone.
The coming year is going to be really unpleasant if I keep that white-knuckle-grip on the steering wheel and will make finding joy in the celebrations and peace in the changes that come with those same celebrations more than difficult. I grabbed a new devotional the other day and wrote the 12 Steps inside the front cover. Who knows, maybe after a year of “Let Go”, I might give “Find Rest” another try.
Happy New Year. Be good to yourselves and each other. ♥