The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving always feel a bit manic to me. And even in the midst of a pandemic, where many of our normal activities have been put on hold or cancelled, it seems there are more tasks to complete than there are hours in a day.
For the past couple weeks, bedtime with my youngest has been a struggle, and she’s needed her mama more than usual on most nights. Balancing that with all the things that still have to be done once she’s finally asleep left me feeling worn out and drained on more than one recent evening. Making myself sit quietly with her as she dozes off, while my mind is furiously rehearsing a to-do list a mile long, is not the easiest. And on this past Wednesday evening, after doing prep work and baking for one kiddo’s class Thanksgiving feast and wrestling the other, very tired but thankfully relatively calm and peaceful, child into bed and off to dreamland, I finished up all my normal, end of the day responsibilities, threw on my pjs, and sat down to write.
Only, I never actually got to the writing part. I never even opened my laptop. I realized, that for the first time in at least two weeks, I didn’t have anything that absolutely had to be done in that moment. And I literally could not remember the last time I just sat down and took a break. So rather than writing I spent the next hour with my kindle in hand and the tv on in the background.
I’ve said before I’m not great at resting. I’m actually horrible at it. And I’m 99.9999% certain there are more than a couple of mamas that can relate . . . yeah, I know you’re raising those hands . . . solidarity mamas. It always seems like there is something to do . . . something pressing that needs to be finished. But in addition to the flurry of activity and planning that the beginning of the holiday season always brings, these past couple of weeks have brought immense tragedy and grief and heaviness right here in our own little community. My prayers have been laced with pleas to God to comfort those who are mourning . . . to bring peace to those hurt deeply . . . and with those pleas there’s also been some perspective brought into my life.
Yet, another lesson in priorities, if you will. I know I keep coming back to this, but when God began to speak to me about priorities at the beginning of this year, I had no idea what was to come. And more than I could’ve ever predicted, 2020 has, indeed, been a lesson in sorting out what really matters and what needs to take second or third or even no place in my life.
This life is short. If we live 100 years, it’s still no more just the blink of the eye and a brief moment on the timeline of history. Ask any person that has been on this earth 80 plus years, and they’ll tell you that the reality is life really does “fly by”. The book of James says, “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14)
At the end of this of this year, I don’t want to look back and only see 2020 as an awful year that I couldn’t wait to get through. I don’t want to look back and see only the chaos that was endured . . . a pandemic . . . a hugely controversial and tumultuous election that brought immense anger and division . . . people we know and love losing friends and family in unexplainable and unimaginable ways . . . questions left unanswered this side of heaven . . . I want to look back and see all of that, to own and process it all because I don’t deny the reality of the hard and the grief and the heartbreak that has accompanied this year, and yet, still be able to say confidently, because I know it and live in it and believe it in the deepest parts of my soul, that God is good, and He does good. And He has brought, He is bringing, beauty from the ashes of 2020.
So, while I will still do all the things that need to be done because I cannot abandon all my responsibilities nor do I wish to . . . I will still write because not only do I love to write, but I feel like God has called me to write . . . I’ll also take the time to stop . . . to rest . . . to pray . . . to sit with a little girl who just needs her mama “a few more minutes” . . . to hug my 13 year old who might act like he’s too grown up for that nonsense but needs it now more than ever . . . to listen to my husband and be there to support him . . . to put more effort into my actual walk with God, my marriage, my kids than all the “things”, no matter how good they are, that must be accomplished. I’ll remember that the outward illusion of perfection is not the thing for which I should strive, and I am called to love people. Period. I am called to be the hands and feet of Jesus right here on this earth, in my community and in my home. And I’ll recall these words given to me from the book of Isaiah (5:20-21) as 2019 made way for 2020:
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”.
Because while there are blatant and obvious instances of calling evil good and good evil, of trading light for darkness and putting bitter for sweet right in front of me on a daily basis, on a very personal level, it’s often in the little things . . . the misplacement of priorities . . . the assumption that I am wise and in control . . . where this sneaks in and slowly, but steadily, erodes away at my own life . . . I’ll be so bold as to say that it happens to all of us . . . it affects our marriages, our families, our relationship with God, and ultimately our own peace of mind and heart.
And if “it” doesn’t all get done, then that’s okay too. Life is far more than a checklist to be completed, and there are worse things than leaving tasks undone.
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