Well, 2021 is almost here, can you believe it? We are finally going to be able to kick 2020 in the butt and out the door. It has certainly been a year for the record books; not exactly what all of us would have hoped for in the way of a promising new decade.
I think we all would agree that 2020 started out with so much promise. We all know, too well, how much of a struggle it has been to fight an invisible pandemic, worldwide.
At the end of 2019, I wrote that I was seeing 20/20 for the first time in my life, having just had cataract surgery in both eyes. I was born legally blind, and all my life I struggled to keep up with my worsening eyesight. That was, until I chose to update the lens in each eye to correct my vision near and far. It is something that most take for granted. Instead, I had taken my blindness for granted, until the veil was lifted. I thought new eyesight in a new decade held the promise of a lifetime. Little could I have imagined how drastically our world, as we knew it was about to change.
One of my favorite celebrities, Mike Rowe, from Dirty Jobs, remarked in his recent blog, that while taking his morning walk, in his old neighborhood, he noticed how much had changed. He felt the world was now covered in a layer of crusty debris that even a hot shower could not expel. Seeing 20/20 was possible, but the shelf, upon which this past year has sat, is now covered with a thick layer of dust and grime.
In my life, this past year has been a time of refocusing. In early 2020, my real estate business fell off the map almost the second the pandemic reached the United States. For the first time in 35 years, and I was living on my own with little to no safety net.
However, just prior to COVID, I learned my only daughter was pregnant with my first grandchild. I was overwhelmed with anticipation even if we all were somewhat trepidatious over the news. My goal, at that point, was to move as close to her as possible so that I can watch this little one grow up!
As the weeks and months progressed and we all heard stories of the ill and dying, our personal relationships struggled. We no longer felt safe to gather. We began to wear masks in public and distance ourselves 6 feet apart. Hugs and handshakes were out of the question.
I found myself quietly relishing quarantine. I was not sad about being alone. I rather cherished the solitude. It gave me time for reflection and to establish a path I wanted to take when COVID was over.
In the interim, life became Zoom meetings and Facetime calls. I only got to see my daughter once while she was pregnant. Instead I was forced to watch the unfolding of a new life, through video and photographs. This only made me want to change the course of my direction even more.
In my own life, as I witnessed the disease all around me, I decided after 30+ years I would begin again. I began to gather those remnants, to uproot myself from Texas and relocate to the mountains to be closer to my new grandson. I said goodbye to a lifetime of friends and headed in a completely new direction. I didn’t know if I was ready to start over, or, if I had the skills I would need to conquer new weather patterns and new ways of living. I didn’t know the strength that was in me to move forward, but I knew I had to go. The mountains were calling and a rural way of life would replace my old one in the city.
Ten days after I closed on my new home in Colorado and moved in, I fell and broke my ankle. Yup, I sure did. I had never broken a bone in my life until that moment. To my astonishment, even in my time of greatest need, I had family come to my rescue. I felt like it was God’s way of telling me to slow down. It definitely did, but in no way to my detriment. I found support at every turn.
My brother, on furlough from the railroad, offered to come help take care of me for 6-12 weeks while my ankle healed. After all, I was in a 2 story house and in a boot, and on crutches.
Growing up he and I were involved in different sports. Me, into horses and gymnastics, and he into competitive swimming. We never really had the time to hang out as kids, so his offering to come help me while I recovered was a godsend! Both our lives were in transition and I realized a couple weeks in, that this is a once in a lifetime gift for both of us. We have reminisced about our parents, growing up, our beliefs, etc. and it has been a joyous time I feel few siblings get to experience as adults. I’ll be eternally grateful for his help and support! “What the enemy intended for harm, God has intended for good.” New Testament KJV
To me, there is a silver lining to all that we have suffered in the last 12 months. I have gained a new grandson. I have gained my independence and my passion for living has never been stronger.
When I gathered the remnants of my life, little could I have guessed I would be bringing the full measure in to the storehouse. A lifetime of hardship and longing, patience and suffering, success and failures. How could I have known, that by uprooting my life and heading in a totally new direction would be abundantly blessed with a new beginning. I am so very, very delighted with where I am right now in my life. If I had written the script it would pale in comparison. I could never have imagined such bliss, such gratitude.
Does gratitude work to change your fate, your will, your overall experience? Yes! Absolutely without a doubt. I broke my foot. I was in a 2 story house. There were 4-6 steps from garage just to get into my front or back door. Did I lament that? Not for one second. I was grateful I had a home. I was grateful my son was still with me the night it happened and I wasn’t alone. I was grateful the next day when the Orthopedist told me to come in right away to make sure I didn’t need surgery. I was grateful that my injury was not catastrophic.
You see, I began programming my feelings, my emotions and my mind to give thanks in all things when I was in my early 20’s. I learned by doing so, no matter how bad things were, there was always light at the end of the tunnel. Even if I couldn’t see the silver lining in a disastrous situation, I always gave thanks because sooner or later it would appear!
It has taken a lifetime to reap the rewards of my being grateful for all the things I didn’t want in my life. God sends us people and situations that test and try our patience and fortitude. In the beginning all I had was faith, but as my faith strengthened, I began to see changes in my outlook. Gratitude almost became a skill set and gave me coping skills when my faith wanted to wane.
Did it take years? Decades? Yes, in some cases it did. However, I would not trade one single event that caused me to trust and to give thanks in a way that seemed unnatural to me at the time.
It took me nearly 40 years to understand God’s blessings amid all the unanswered prayers. I waded and waited through times that tried my patience and my faith. I trusted blindly, always believing there never really was an end. My faith was so blind, I never ever believed in a different ending than the one I had lived already. In hindsight, I see now God knew the ending from the beginning, He was just waiting for me to take the first step.
“For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope”. Jeremiah KJV
You see, there was a vision for my life, that has taken me along paths I never wanted to cross. I have struggled through hardships I never wanted. I have had prayers, seemingly go unanswered for decades at a time. I have treaded water when there was no life preserver. I have pushed forward when I was so tired from the strain, I didn’t know how I was able to press on. But, I did it. I survived.
It came at a price, and I paid dearly some years. I hung on to invisible threads. You may be doing the same. You may feel as though there is no way out. You may feel forgotten, to blame, exhausted, and spent. But I am here to tell you there is light at the end of the tunnel. When the train goes through the darkness, you don’t throw away your ticket and jump off. You hold on and trust the Engineer and Conductor know how to get you through. They are the ones who have known the ending from the beginning and He is the One under whose wings I now reside.
“For He covers me with his feathers and under his wings I find refuge” KJV
God has not forgotten you. He knows how each of us struggle. He knows the desires of our hearts. He knows where we are at each moment. He sees our hardships. All we need to do is give thanks, and “rest in His completed work”. KJV