This past year caused a fundamental shift inside of me. A blanket of heaviness came to rest upon me and I could not get out from under it. Good things happened but I could only acknowledge them on a surface level.
For much of my adult life, I’ve been a hopeful person. So hopeful sometimes that I’ve been accused of being a Pollyanna. When I became a Christian, that hopeful, optimistic view fused with my faith. It became a gift from God. But somehow, over this past year, that hopefulness, the optimistic person in me who thinks it will all turn out ok in the end, left. I didn’t lose my faith. I could acknowledge that God was still in control and that he wanted only good for me. But the spark that drove my faith could not be accessed.
The pandemic and all the things it changed, all the things that had to be given up and the rules that were imposed, I accepted. Some of them broke my heart, but I accepted them. I knew logically, that good things were also happening. That life, even during a pandemic, even with restrictions, could not be contained. That both good and bad things would continue to happen. But when I would try to acknowledge the good, it was truncated, always seen and felt under that blanket of heaviness.
Even on New Year’s Eve, when those on Facebook were posting their hopes that 2021 would be better, I could not join them in that hope. Of course, I did want it to be better but the heaviness inside of me was in charge. There was no room for hope to work it’s magic. It didn’t dare.
I went to bed expecting to sleep through the change of the New Year. Something I would have never done in the past. Yet I couldn’t sleep. I watched the ball drop, while on my phone, in bed. And after it dropped, I cried. It was an odd kind of crying, almost without tears. The thought that there were no tears left, did not escape my thinking. My heart ached from a loss I couldn’t verbalize.
The harsh realist in me has been telling me all along that I have no right to be sad. No one I loved has died from the virus. Yes we’ve had to cancel things and yes we’ve been separated from loved ones, and yes life as we know it has drastically changed, but it’s all for the greater good.
In hindsight, it was really a critic, posing as a realist, that fed the heaviness. The enemy coming in with just enough truth to make me feel compelled to buy it. And the heaviness settled in on top of me and I could not get out from under it.
Of course, the critic was not alone. He had help. Fear, anxiety and the threat of greater loss….the threat of this 2020 life being the new normal, ripped me apart and put me back together again in a way that left me unable to recognize myself.
Over the last few weeks in December, I had reached a breaking point. I was so weary of this new person I had become. I was so tired of trying to be the old me while this blanket weighed on me. My prayer life, like everything else in this year, had been affected. Over the past few weeks, my prayers, when I could get them out were simple prayers, of “help me, Lord.”
This morning, January 2, 2021, I woke up and thought I would pray before I got out of bed. That is not unusual for me but the prayers that came out of my mouth were. “Thank you, Lord! Thank you for the million ways you love me! Thank you for the thousands of opportunities you give me to love you back!”
That prayer just filled my head. I wasn’t thanking the Lord as I had been – out of the knowledge that he deserved it. This was spontaneous as if it came from somewhere else. And there was a song to it, a lightness, that I have not felt since before the pandemic began.
And I began to wonder, had my hope been restored? And the funny thing is, even asking myself that question confirmed for me that it had. I know we are not out of the woods yet. But I am hopeful that I can now live better in the midst of this.
Hope is a powerful agent against fear and anxiety and loss, both real and imagined. Hope gives me words. It gives me vision that allows me to see beyond the darkness.
I’m not so hopeful that I think everything will be unicorns and rainbows from now on. But I am seeing and feeling things differently~ the weight of that heavy blanket is not noticeable. Perhaps it’s still there and will rear it’s ugly head again. I have no doubt it will try. But suddenly I can see the good that’s happened in the past year and enjoy it. I can honestly appreciate it without the heaviness sucking the life out of it.
My heart welcomes back hope and plans to do all it can to not only help it grow back to what it was, but to help it grow stronger, deeper and more resilient than it was before.
They say hindsight is 2020. I’m grateful that hope has come in and let me look back at the year through a lens that sees both the good and bad for what they truly were.
Hope and I will be going into 2021 together. 2020 took it away but 2021 restored it. A Happy New Year, indeed.