My newest blogging buddy of 2021

Thinking back over the last couple of years, I feel that 2021 was a tougher year for us than was 2020. While in some ways 2020 felt isolating, we didn’t let the world circumstances dictate how we spent our time, chose our attitudes, or found things to be grateful for. I’m a firm believer that keeping the proper perspective can successfully get you through anything, no matter how difficult, and ultimately, God’s faithfulness never changes. Maybe our 2020 didn’t feel as isolating because many of our circumstances, even if difficult, paralleled what many of our family, friends, and much of society was facing at the time. Many of us had our schools shut down, many had our job hours and location change, many of us had more time at home, many of us were trying to figure out what to do with our kids when even playgrounds were closed. There was a certain feel of “togetherness” that became stronger during that year. Maybe it didn’t feel as isolating because January 2020 kicked off another pregnancy for us, so a precious human was growing inside of me for majority of the year. As physically tiring many days were, there was still the excitement of a new life. Even behind a mask, I was still able to talk to, learn from, and interact with doctors and nurses, some of my favorite individuals. In September of 2020, our handsome second son was born—another miracle! The newborn stage was still a bit lonely, but that was ok. We had a lot of time to spend as a family and growing in our relationships with each other and with the Lord.

It’s hard to believe that 2021 is almost to a close—and while it has been another awesome year of life, of God’s love and mercies, and of great new memories made, what a strange, and somewhat confusing year it has been too.

Ever feel like you’re in your own snow globe? Maybe you’re not always feeling cold or seeing snowflakes, but you’re in your own bubble. Like it’s a different world on the outside and you just can’t quite touch it from where you’re at. Or, feel like you’re speaking a different language and you’re the only one speaking that language? Or you just flat out look at a situation or circumstance and you are utterly confused, shocked, or thrown for a loop? I’m sure we’ve all been there (although I do think that spending a day in a snow globe, dressed up as a cute snowman and watching it snow would be sweet). It isn’t necessarily a negative spot to be in, but it does provide for a bit more thinking, wondering, and praying for clarity. 2021 had more of this for us than we expected.

Changes happened—some great, some indifferent, and some devastating. We’ve seen new lives born, prayers answered, beautiful memories made—the surprises! But have also seen lives lost, hopes crushed, and family tensions and divisions—the unexpected. All of these, the good and the bad, are a part of life. We know the tough ones are to help us grow, but they aren’t typically easy in the middle of it. In more instances than I’d like to admit, it has felt lonely. At times, it has been the quiet of the afternoon when the kids are sleeping and I’m at home. Sounds wonderful most days, but once in awhile, it feels lonely. At times it’s the loud, crazy, toddler stages of life, when even though I have many friends and family members who are also in this stage to go talk to, it feel lonely. More often, we felt the loneliness at the doctor’s office, the hospital, or the surgery center. We didn’t see three surgeries in our family coming over the course of two months. We didn’t see a disease or chronic illness diagnosis, or the medical bills that will be ongoing. All of these, thankfully, are situational. Hard stuff in life happens. Our bodies are temporary machines that decay over time. With the proper perspective, these situations don’t have to feel lonely, and thankfully God has shown us something through each of these. He is faithful! The most lonely parts of the year have been seeing changes in people. Relational, family, parental, sibling, etc. Change is difficult for many, myself included. However, I tend to forget that change is needed for growth. I also forget that mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors change over time—whether age related, physical health related, life change related, etc. God doesn’t keep us in one place to be satisfied or comfortable. He takes us through unexpected, and many times hard things for us to more fully rely on Him (anyone else have one of those FROG charms as a kid—Fully Rely on God? Those were the best). Sometimes these are hard realities, hard truths, or seeing things differently than you have in prior decades. As not to dwell on situations that could be depressing or lead to negative thoughts, God has (and continues to) shown me some good realities and reminders.

When you speak truth, people may not like it. When you’re honest, people may think you’re extreme. When you ask hard questions, people may call you offensive or uncaring. When you don’t tolerate sin, people may become defensive and say that you have hurt them.

People didn’t “like” Jesus because they felt he made them feel uncomfortable. He didn’t always tell them what they wanted to hear, didn’t just provide the easy way out, but he did love them even though they accused him. He knew what was best for him, even if it caused adjustments that were uncomfortable.

We may feel alone at times. Jesus felt lonely too. For some reason, remembering this has really taken away the majority of loneliness I’ve been tempted to feel. He understands, and it’s ok to feel that way sometimes, but it isn’t ok to dwell in it or let it run how you live.

When we feel lonely, it’s natural for many of us to go to family for advice, help, or to share how we are feeling, however, this hasn’t always been an option for some of our unexpected situations. While at times it has been very tough, it has reminded us that Christ alone is our solid rock, and he will never leave or forsake us. Wisdom, knowledge, advice, or even comfort can’t always come from our parents, our grandparents, our spouses, or our siblings. However, all of those, especially comfort, does come from our Lord, and that is worth experiencing no matter what.

2021–a strange, somewhat unexpected year of events, but it was also a wonderful year. I’ll be highlighting some of the great things that happened in my next post!