I strongly hesitate as I type this. The awkward and uncalled for guilt and shame tells me not to share this. Here’s the thing, 2020 was shockingly an amazing year for me. Now I write knowing that 2020 was horrendous, discouraging, excruciating, and unbearable to most. I write this acknowledging the pain, heartbreak, and despair that 2020 brought. I write knowing that my guilt and shame formed because I am comparing my year to everyone else. Before I continue, I am not the victim here. It is known that numerous people have lost their jobs, millions of people have died because of COVID-19, injustice is apparent, and that is barely touching the surface. Before I continue, if you have the heart and the means to give, go donate somewhere. At this point, you do not even need to continue reading if you’re on a time crunch, just go donate. Help those in need.
Truth is something I deeply value and it would be dishonest of me to tell you that my life has been filled with the utmost happiness right now. Go ask my bible study group. It was only yesterday I shared with them that I am feeling so lonely from the lack of community. I miss seeing my friends and my family. And though I believe we need to feel and process these emotions that describe our pain and misery, it is equally important to feel and process the emotions that describe our joy. I am reminded by Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 that there is a season for everything.
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. 2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. 3 A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. 4 A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. 5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. 6 A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. 7 A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.8 A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. Ecc. 3:1-8
The highlight of my year happened between the months of March and May. To paint a picture for you, it was around mid-March when I moved back home due to the pandemic. I celebrated my 21st birthday with my family during the lockdown. I ironically sipped on a Corona Extra but found it to be completely disgusting. When this first had happened–the pandemic, of course, I think we were all on the same page, shocked, scared, and confused.
For me, a Christian, during the start of COVID-19, I remember thinking, “God, uhhh…can we not do this? I fully believe you are sovereign, mighty, powerful, and loving beyond measurable, but this pandemic thing is going to make it a little tricky to lead people to Christ.” And much like I have shared, it’s not that hard to prove the existence of the Christian God with science and history, but it is emotionally difficult to understand the attributes of God. We live in a broken and fallen world where suffering exists. I am not here to explain your suffering but I am here to acknowledge it and to empathize with you. It is a valid argument and I get where you are coming from. I know 2020 has been a difficult year to most.
I looked at this pandemic and was humbly reminded of the lack of control I have over my life. My life was completely planned out prior to the madness. This fear that I have over getting a job would be nonexistent if the virus did not make its way into the states. Raise your hand if you accurately predicted how 2020 would pan out. Okay, you in the back? Go get saved and check out the gift of prophecy as you may have been given it by God. All glory goes to Jesus.
Jokes and coping mechanisms aside, the beginning of the blow-up of the pandemic in mid-March brought a lot of fear and uncertainty. Initially, I was covered in loneliness and despair, because I missed everyone. Though people are a “video-chat away”, I have been struggling with keeping up with my friendships and being a good friend. The pandemic took a stab at my worth and where I placed my value. I found my value in having a perfect future planned out. I found my value in my friendships. I found my value in weightlifting. I found my value in these photoshoots that I would go on. Everything was stripped away. Did you feel it too? That realization forced me to re-evaluate who I am in Jesus. Truthfully we were in lockdown and I was bored. With nothing else to do, I turned to Jesus.
“Okay, God. So…there’s this pandemic going on, as you know. Everything I placed my value in has changed and now I am left without a hope. You are the only thing that does not change. You remain the same. You created me fearfully and wonderfully. Jesus, I need to re-fall in love with You. I need to re-find my worth in You. You’re the only thing I can truly place my hope in.” That’s essentially what I prayed and I saw God completely transform my heart.
Pain, suffering, and trials did not leave me but I was reminded of who I am and who gives me value. It felt like all I did was pray, read the Bible, and watch sermon after sermon for all of March through May. I had a heart that was reignited to remember who I am and what I am created for. Being filled by Jesus helped me reprioritize the other things in my life. For once in my life or at least a very long time, I felt free in the way I walked and lived in this world. I walked knowing that I loved God more than anything and He loved me more than I can ever imagine. I walked knowing that I was created intentionally and made worthy through Christ alone. That was huge and a much-needed transformation in my life, especially as the rest of 2020 has played out. Truly finding my worth in God was absolutely essential to everything else and everything to come.
Knowing how Jesus sees me helps me with seeing others in the way He sees them. I’ve always been terrible at giving but I see the need to donate and to help God’s beautiful creations. Instead of trying to change people, I’ve been more accepting of who people are. Don’t twist that, loving people involves calling them out for wrongful and harmful actions, but my point is there is not a “universal normal”. I’ve been able to see people as nine or sixteen “normals”, depending on which personality tests you view. But I am overwhelmed with the diversity and complexity of every person on this planet, you are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Being able to see myself as God’s intentionally designed being has allowed me to rest. I don’t need to prove myself. I don’t need the world to love me. I am called to love God and love people. 2020 has simply been a season of growing and though there will always be so much more work to do, I am so appreciative of how Jesus has used this year.
Now, I don’t want this to come off as an “if you pray hard enough and read your bible every day, God will give you everything you want.” That is completely false. You can pray every single day and God’s answer to your prayer might still be “no”. I also want to be real with you and say this is anecdotal evidence. I could have shared that being addicted to drugs changed my life in a positive way but that does not mean that addiction is the way to salvation. Consider the truth and evidence of Christianity by looking at the facts. If you want to, start here.
At the end of the day, I am still a sinful woman saved by God’s grace. I struggle with pride. I struggle with self-control. I struggle with arrogance. I struggle with patience. Because life has been full of highs this entire year, every day I struggle with remembering that I genuinely need God. I am always prone to wander. As I write this I wish every day my heart was set on fire for God like it was during March through May. That’s just me being real with you. Still deeply flawed but loved fully by Jesus and given salvation freely through His grace alone.
This is simply a life update and I pray that this moves you in a way that honors God. He gets all the glory anyway. I am not trying to guilt-trip you into Christianity but I am here to share the good news of the gospel and the evidence I have found thus far. I know for me (again take my anecdotal evidence lightly) that though I have no idea what is going on or what is to come my hope is in Jesus, the one who loves me fully. I know that regardless of what 2021 looks like, I can fully put my trust and faith in God who does not change. That’s the one thing I’ve been able to hold onto despite everything going on. I appreciate all your support and I am excited to see what God does this year. Join me in my journey through grace and faith.
Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven [standing firm and unchangeable]. 90Your faithfulness continues from generation to generation; You have established the earth, and it stands [securely]. Psalm 119:89-90