Finding the Joy in 2020
Joy: noun a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
Let’s set the stage for a moment. January 1, 2020….the majority of us were filled with a sense of excitement and anticipation for what the new year had to offer. I know personally, I had set goals, had awesome trips planned, and weddings to look forward to throughout the year. I was ready with a motivation driving me to accomplish everything I had set out to do. I was filled with JOY for a new year filled with upcoming adventures.
Fast forward a mere three months to March. The news of what has been going on all over the world is beginning to spread and the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 is on the horizon. Spring break begins and so does the shutdown. We now all find ourselves with a stay-at-home order that is keeping most of us from leaving our homes, our children from returning to school, and only our essential employees able to work outside of the home. Joy has now been replaced by uncertainty and frustration. People all over the world are turning their dining room tables into workspaces, creating a place that will be their children’s new classroom, managing an entire household that is now home 24/7, navigating curbside EVERYTHING and rationing out toilet paper! Slow the spread in 14 days they said. Okay. We can do anything for two weeks right? Two weeks comes and goes, and the numbers keep growing, not slowing. Uncertainty and frustration are now replaced with fear and panic. Fear for our loved ones, fear of the unknown, panic for our lack of knowledge in 4th grade math, and panic because we still can’t find TOILET PAPER. PPE is now an acronym not only exclusive to health care professionals and schools are shut down for the remainder of the school year. Events, trips, and all things fun are canceled. Joy…really hard to find right about now.
Summer rolls around and word gets out that the heat might kill the virus. Things begin to open back up sort of and life slowly starts to resemble a new normal. Fear, frustration, adaptation, as well as all the other emotions have taken hold of our lives and moms everywhere have discovered a love for wine over the last few months. The uncertainty of our children returning to school still looms over our heads, but we can finally find toilet paper again!! A little joy begins to creep back in. The heat theory is debunked, that little bit of toilet paper joy sneaks back out the window, and we limp along through the summer with a lot of “at home time”. Fall arrives and school is still questionable. Students are all over the place and families are doing their best to protect their loved ones by choosing a plan that fits their needs. Cold and flu season begins to ramp up, Halloween is canceled, and Thanksgiving has a whole different feel. Our numbers begin to rise once again and the little fear that had subsided over the last couple months seeps back in through all our cracks. Loved ones have been lost, and things have hit a little too close to home for months now. ALL the feelings have turned into despair with no end of the pandemic in sight. December is here and even though there is the promise of a new year on the horizon, how joyful is that really knowing that this virus is not going away?
That’s a pretty bleak picture I just painted for you isn’t it? It is VERY easy to find the ugly in life. You really don’t have to look that hard, especially this year! But let me paint you a different picture….one that is a little less black and grey.
Over the last 8-9 months, I have found joy in the growth of my relationship with God, my husband, my friends, and my children. I have enjoyed getting to spend more time at home with my family, than I have ever had! I have watched as my children discovered new things about themselves. We have cooked together, read together, and watch countless movies together. We’ve created, colored, painted, played games and talked more over the last few months than I even knew was possible. Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful relationship with my children, but this pandemic has opened the door to conversations that might not have happened otherwise. Conversations about our creator, our world, and history going all the way back to Adam and Eve.
I found God leading me into situations where having a strong faith is necessary. Where prayer is the only answer and growth within myself was taking place. I felt his presence and heard his voice clearer than I ever have before. Over the last month, I took time to reflect on the chaos we’ve all been through this past year. In every dark moment, in every fearful and uncertain time, there was joy and answered prayer. When we were shut in at home and school was out for the rest of the semester, my family grew closer. When loved ones were getting sick and every time you turned around, someone else you know had COVID, I found myself turning to prayer. When stress ran high and the messes seemed never ending, God showed me the joy in not being alone. For every little moment of the past year, God was making Himself known. He was molding and shaping, opening doors and shutting windows. He was guiding me in the direction He wanted me to go.
As we all gather around our Christmas trees in a few short days and celebrate the birth of Christ, I pray each of you find the joy in even the hardest moments. It may be a quieter Christmas with families not being able to be together for the holidays, but I challenge you to find the joy in the quiet. Having to stay closer to home may very well be a blessing in disguise. I know, all too well, the traditions that once were, may not be again, at least for a while, but that doesn’t mean the new has to be bad. You and only YOU have control over your own joy. You can choose to see the black and the grey that this year has painted, or you can flip the canvas over, turn on your favorite “get it done” song, and paint your own joyous picture of 2020 with every color you can imagine!