I woke up on Saturday morning in a nice, warm bed. It was about 6:30 and the house was quiet. My coffee maker brewed the magic behind me and my puppy lay at my feet while I sat here and mused about the things on my mind and on my heart. The man I love was still asleep in the other room. This place was filled with peace. There was so much to be thankful for right in that moment.
And then… my mind wandered.
These past two years or so, much has changed in my own life and so much has changed in the world. It really is difficult to roll it all into words. Each day seemed to bring some new information, all of us somehow expected to wrap our minds around it and keep moving forward. How did we ever do that?
Do you remember when something as simple as buying toilet paper was done with the determination of a treasure hunt?
Or when we were all making our own home-sewn fabric masks, as a way to cope with the reality that this thing might last more than just a few weeks?
How about when the idea of wearing a mask was obvious to some and others felt that it infringed on their very lives?
Our hearts held grief for the people who lost their lives or loved ones to a deadly virus.
I remember when vaccines became available, and many disagreements arose surrounding the topic. It split some families apart.
Then there was the chaos of navigating an election of a new leader of our country during a pandemic.
Think about the heartbreakingly awful death of George Floyd. Many people were appalled, and some had their eyes opened, maybe for the first time, to the reality of police brutality against people of color.
There were many people who lost their jobs, and then those who had to work from home while trying to supervise their child and that child’s education.
It’s hard to forget (nor should we) when there was an insurrection at our country’s capital, and many of us were terrified and didn’t know what would come of it.
And now just a little over a month ago, Russia invaded the free country of Ukraine, and we still wait to see how resolution and peace will come in that scenario.
And on and on…
YOU GUYS. It’s been a ride like no other. It’s ok if you’re feeling all the things. It’s ok if you’re just tired. It’s okay if you are angry or scared. It’s okay if you are not okay. I could have kept listing things that have changed or issues that have come up over the past two years, and I am sure there are people who would shoot a hand up as they read it and say, “Yes, same in my life!” Not to mention all the details of our lives that maybe as a whole, go unshared, but they indeed form our experiences and who we are as individuals. Everybody has something. Life can be hard. We all know this.
Yet I wonder if we might take a step back for a moment.
I am not saying ignore the loss, struggle, fear or grief you have experienced over these last couple years. What I am saying is… hold those things gently and see what they have started to grow in your life and in your soul. See if you can hold the hard things right alongside the new, the good, and the wondrous things.
In the past two years, I have struggled like everyone else. But right here with you, I don’t want to focus on the struggles. I want to tell you about some of the new, the good, and the wondrous I’ve seen in my life and in the world.
In August of 2019, I met the man I married. Just a few months before the pandemic, we met up and had some roast beef sandwiches coupled with about three hours of conversation. Little did I know how glad I would be to have that guy by my side through the next couple years (and now forever). Man, I sure am glad he was there to walk with me through it. His laughter, humor, and support upheld me in more ways than I can tell you. We had the joy of dating, getting engaged, and getting married during these last couple years, and I would not trade that for anything. Married life is new, good, and wondrous. It actually blows my mind, and that’s pretty cool.
Speaking of pretty cool, if you’ve never been to Ireland, I HIGHLY recommend it. This was another thing that happened in fall of 2019. I left in early September with my mom to go on a two-week adventure. We had planned and planned, everything was booked, and there was nothing to do but GO. I think it’s safe to say we were both nervously excited; it turned out to be an absolutely incredible trip. The time spent one-on-one with my mom; the driving (successfully, I might add) around a new country and seeing so much beauty and history everywhere; the new foods we ate and people we met; getting to see and be hosted by a sweet college friend who lives there with her family; no doubt these things were a mix of new, good, and wondrous.
This trip happened pre-pandemic, and I am so glad it did. It burned into my heart again the beauty of experiencing a bigger world beyond the confines of my daily life. During the pandemic, those confines were even tighter and in hard moments, that trip helped remind me that I wasn’t the only one “going through it.” Being aware of my being a citizen of the world is definitely a good thing; I’m not perfect at it by any means, but I am learning to choose empathy and compassion whenever I can.
You know what else is pretty good and wondrous? Friendship. Before the pandemic hit, I started hosting a ladies coffee gathering at my apartment. I liked the idea of hosting something low-key, having people over, and just providing a place of connection. It was a space that allowed for conversation and laughter, coffee and yummy treats. There was usually a mix of college friends, current friends, and extended family members. This event may not seem like anything special to you, but to me, it meant a lot.
I didn’t realize how special those gatherings were to me until I had the opportunity to finally host another one about a month ago. I had a moment that day in our small living room, filled easily by a dozen or so people I love; I was overcome with the realization that life is so precious and can be so FULL of love, and I am going to try to hold that thought in my soul for the rest of my days.
This is something I have learned about myself: it’s okay to be friendly with many, but truly friends with just a few. The very definition of “friend” seems to have changed for me during these past couple years. They are those who know how I tick, who know how to brighten my day and who let me into their lives to support them too. People who can send me a GIF out of nowhere, knowing exactly why it will make me laugh. People who do not question the fact that I WILL hug them goodbye after we hang out. People who have held me through some tough shit and would do it all over again. People who say they will be praying for me, and I know they actually will. People who aren’t offended when it takes time for me to respond to a text, and they know I feel the same way when they take their time; that’s just life sometimes and we’ll pick up where we left off. I have learned what I need in a friend, and who I want to be as a friend. And that’s no small thing. Friendship is a wondrous thing that helps us thrive and gives us the goodness of connection.
Marriage, a love for the big, wide world, and friendship… these three things have brought much that’s new, good, or wondrous to my life.
So… what about you? What is a new, good, or wondrous thing in your life? It could be as big as getting married or having a child, or as simple as the snow melting and warmer weather being upon us. It could be that your child finally gets to go back to school and be with their friends again. It could be that you can see family or friends again whom you did not get to see much in recent months. It could be that your dog jumped up to snuggle with you on the couch while you were home sick for the day. It could be that you’ve gone to a concert for the first time in two years. It could be many different things. The point is, you can SEE it. You can see the new, the good, the wondrous. You don’t feel the need to always dwell on hard times and feelings of the past, but you can hold them gently, working through the pain, while you see the new, good, and wondrous that today may hold.
I want you to know that it is okay if you are in a tough spot. It is okay to need help. It is okay to be sad. It is part of being human. Hang in there, friend. Be kind to yourself and keep people around you who add to your life, not take from it. Maria Goff writes:
“Sad is okay, stuck isn’t helpful… Loss visits all of us. None of us gets to opt out. Rather than praying that I never experience loss again, my prayer has been that God would show me what is possible on the other side of loss. We might be sad for awhile but we’re not going to be stuck. We’re going to move forward. Love keeps us going and hope moves our feet.” (Love Lives Here)
Remember there is hope. There is joy. There is opportunity for connection. Celebrate the new, the good, and the wondrous things in your life and in the world.