6 feet apart. Masker or anti-masker. Virtual learning. Quarantine. Flattening the Curve. Covid-19.
These words have helped define 2020. It seemingly has become the most difficult year of this era for the entire world. Yet, in a way, it makes the world seem smaller. While Covid is the main conversation in almost every circle, the US is more divided than ever on virtually any topic, and conspiracy lurks at every corner, I have never been better.
In January I returned from a mission trip in Liberia, Africa. While there, I visited the filthiest and most forgotten prison on the planet. With prison cells smaller than my own bedroom packed with young men (some probably younger than my 14-year-old son) and a smell so thick and putrid that I can still bring it forth from my mind’s nostrils, I came face to face with my own stinking rotten prison. I bellowed out my crackly, tone-deaf voice to sing praises over and with these men. I clasped hands with them, noting their dry, cracked skin embedded with filth. I heard their voices cry out in loneliness and desperation for human connection, hoping they mattered to someone-anyone. They begged for food and money. They were thirsty for more than just water- though they were in desperate need for clean water (which was provided).
In a blind orphanage I was told by a preteen blind girl that she was my missionary. And she sang “I once was blind, but now I see…” and I knew she saw more than I could.
I stood at the shore of the mightiest ocean in the world (or at least in my world). It was crashing with the waves I’ve only seen in my dreams…And the waves of my nightmares full of brokenness, pain, and loss. It cleansed my dirty feet and gave me hope in a bigger God. One bigger than I thought He was.
And I cried at night for my sons, who I left at home. Worried and desperate for their presence. Paralyzed with fear, staining my pillow with tears. Night after night surrendering them to God saying, “You are bigger than I know. You are mightier than I believe. You understand me,” and falling asleep in His arms knowing they too resided there.
I came home on a windy day in a rocking plane that made passengers vomit and anxiety fill the recycled air.
I went back to work. I went back to treatment. I went back to chronic pain and insomnia. I went back to sports and exhaustion and forgetting that God is the one in control. Forgetting he holds my soul in his heart. Forgetting He is bigger.
I prayed for time to stop so I could heal and slow down. I prayed for the world to stand still so I could have peace in my heart. And hope.
Then, one day, we were quarantined from a disease that days before seemed so far away-so other side of the world.
And time stopped.
Suddenly I was home all the time. My sons were home. No sports. No busy life. No other people. Nothing.
It was difficult at first. I felt I had to do something. So I made masks. Tons of masks.
But I caused myself to have a flair up in my back due to the arthritis. So I quit.
Then I began spending hours in the Word. I spent 3-4 hours a night pouring over the scripture asking God “and what does it mean to be still?”
I’m not a still person. My mind is always filled with revolving thoughts, narratives, memories and what-ifs, self deprecation, regret, worship lyrics, Bible characters, desire, my past and future. Even when asleep, my dreams indicate a constant cycle of thoughts.
For 2 months, the boys and I were on a flipped schedule. Each night we went to bed later and woke up later.
We had a routine: Watch iCarly, play MarioKart, talk, watch the daily Corona briefings, do schoolwork, Bible study, play video games, etc. Also, they ate a ton of food.
But something else happened.
Because I sought, I found what it means to be still.
My body began to feel less pain. My mind slowed down. My spirit awakened. I poured over the Word and got to share my journey daily with almost 70 people who were also praying over these things.
Then, the quarantine ended. Life picked up again. My first day back in church was a day of joyous weeping because I got to worship with those I share life with the most.
Sports started back up, treatment became more focused, and the boys and I established a new routine.
Yet, something was different. Like a butterfly emerging from her cocoon, my spirit danced in the air. My soul became uplifted. Old wounds suddenly were healed. My loss and regret were no longer luggage I pulled behind me. My cycles were shattered and their roots were pulled. My mind regenerated. My hopelessness was supplanted with joy.
I wore clothing of strength and dignity; and my soul began to laugh at the days to come.
I danced in my living room again.
Did God stop the world for me? Certainly not! Yet, I can’t help but know that He knew what He was going to do in me when He gave the virus permission to infect its first victim.
Call that egocentric. Call it what you want. But my God is bigger than You (and I) think He is and His thoughts towards us are more than the grains of sand on the earth.
This has been a year of blessing. How has 2020 been for you?