Today, on this sunny Florida afternoon, I’m reflecting on the past twelve months of craziness and one steady God. That’s the only way I can adequately describe how the last year has felt on so many levels.
On this very day twelve months ago, I sat in my Manila apartment and stared out the window to the ground 12 floors below. At this point, I had been on mandated lockdown for one week…and the reality of the situation was sinking in.
The things that I typically enjoyed so much about our apartment…no yard to mow, no dog to feed…we could just pick up and go anytime we wanted, became the very things that suddenly seemed restrictive and confining.
I remember thinking, “What in the world am I going to do with myself all day, everyday with these physical restraints?” I was not allowed to leave the apartment and we had no balcony. In the first weeks, I would open my windows periodically to stick my head out to feel the breeze and hear the wind rustle through the trees below.
I had just come off a busy season of travel and appointments. In fact, I remember laughing about how hard I had worked to carve out a little time for rest and renewal during the busy few months of 2020.
Then suddenly, my “schedule” changed as if by the clicking of a switch. I had time…luxurious time…then, TOO MUCH TIME…to rest. Now, the things I used to fit in on the fly between all the other important stuff in my life became the only things I had to do.
I eventually sank into a rhythm by mentally dividing my days by various rituals. I became more mindful about creating positive connections by posting one encouraging or uplifting post per day on social media. And, I considerably upped my video game by making a series of videos.
In retrospect, I learned to live without the press of the next appointment. I realized once again, as I had in past life seasons…God didn’t send me here to do, but to be.
How many times has God brought me back to this same place?
I remember learning this lesson for the first time two decades before as a mom of young kids in the small communist country of Laos. I spent my days…and a lot of boiling hot ones at that…reading stories, fixing lunches and waiting for nap time. Shouldn’t I be doing something meaningful with my life?
Eventually, God got my attention. He didn’t love or accept me because of my competency or my ability to get things done….in that season, he wanted me to be present for my kids.
Yes, the Covid season of 2020 was 12 months of craziness that hit many of us by surprise, but I have experienced other seasons that mirrored it in many ways. And, when it comes right down to it, it’s my presence in less-than-ideal circumstances that’s spoken loader than anything I’ve accomplished in this life.
Why would I leave America to raise my kids in a third-world context? Why did I stay in that Manila apartment for twelve straight weeks without leaving but a handful of times when I could have hopped a plane for the United States? Yes, America was also in lockdown, but I could have at least been able to walk outside the front door.
I did it because I can trust God with my days. It’s a lesson He’s taught me over the years…God is only ever interested in my heart, not what I do.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
God renews us day by day and we can choose to fix our eyes on him regardless of the storms. Yes, it’s been twelve months of craziness! But ultimately, it’s our presence that speaks value to those we’ve been called to love and serve; whether it’s precious children; a husband in a two-bedroom high-rise apartment or the woman who reads these words in a blog post.
I believe God will continue to use me as new seasons arise, and yes I look forward to fully embracing, squeezing the life out of, some happier seasons to come. But, this one lesson I hope to remember…my greatest contribution is not to do, but to be.