Is it just me or has 2020 been a whirlwind for anyone else? I mean seriously, we are entering in the 9th month of the year yet I feel as though I have lived two years in a 9 month span. Because my story started in January where most people’s started in March. So let me say this LOUD and without shame, insecurity or hesitation, this year has been HARD!!! However, I am still here, still standing and still thanking God for it all. I am grateful!
Now let’s take it back to January. Don’t we wish we could have a DO OVER? Something to prepare us for the months to follow. I mean January was HARD, February was HARD, and March through June was like “WAIT…WHAT IS HAPPENING?!!!” Soon after, I began to grapple with this phrase “Grieving with Gratitude” and I am still wrestling with this phrase as I walk out my day to day 9 months into 2020. Each month has been marked with intense Grief but also with intense Gratitude. And if I am honest, it’s been overwhelming. From the loss of loved ones: my sweet Grandma, my precious dog of 13 years Randolph in January, to a Global Pandemic unlike anything our generation has ever seen or had to endure starting in March, to transitioning out of a job that was responsible for shaping me into the woman I am today, to a watching that same pandemic we have come to know as CoVid-19 attack the body and mind of my Husband for 120 days which left me questioning for the first time ever if I was going to have to carry on in life without him, to losing my Boss Civil Rights Icon Congressman John Lewis. Geesh!!! Deep Breath. These events all took place in the first seven months of what was forecasted to be the beginning of a new Era, filled with promise, but for some reason it didn’t feel like promises were being kept, it didn’t look the way I had expected. It felt heavy, it felt wrong, it just hit differently. However, in the midst of it all there were little pockets of hope sprinkled throughout that always penetrated these hard moments and left me with a sense of gratitude.
My favorite scripture in the Bible is Psalms 23 and for 2 years straight, I read the passage every morning to remind myself that “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want”, the NIV translation says “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.” The power in the first line alone is an affirming promise that will carry you through any storm that comes your way. As I reflect on this year so far, I am grateful for this passage that has been ingrained in my heart and mind because during those hard times I fell back on this truth. The truth that he is my shepherd meaning, he will lead me, protect me, watch over me, come after me NO MATTER WHAT! Another truth from Psalms 23 that I heavily relied on through this season of Grief is Psalms 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” Again, a moment of gratitude when I fully sit in the truth of this promise, no matter what “darkest valley” I am in, A valley of insecurity, A valley of shame, A valley of losing a loved one, A valley of doubt, and even A valley of not fitting my clothes (Let’s keep it real that’s a valley) whatever I find myself going through, God is always with me and with you! This earthly life doesn’t promise only rainbows and butterflies, it is an ebb & flow of good times and bad. However, we can find rest and take comfort in the fact we will never be alone, he is in the ups and he is in the downs, He will carry us in the grief and within the grief there will always be gratitude.
So let me share some of the examples where I have experienced grief and gratitude. Losing my Grandmother, she was a vibrant 94 year old ball of fire in a 5 foot frame. Full of life, sass and Jesus but during the Christmas holidays fell ill, had a stroke and then went home to be with the Lord. I am grateful for her life, I am grateful that I was able to learn from her for so many years and she was able to experience and share in some of the major milestones in my life. I am also grateful that she doesn’t have to be isolated in a nursing home without visitation from family and friends due to the rules and regulations of this current pandemic. She is not alone, she is with our heavenly Father. I am grateful for my Furbaby Randolph who came into our home as an 8 week old rambunctious puppy and lived a good, long relaxed carefree life with no major ailments or complications. I am grateful for the veterinarian whose kind spirit took care of him until his last breath. Grateful that he was surrounded by all of his favorite things, including an unlimited amount of his favorite treats. I will be forever grateful for my time of service to a well-respected and beloved Member of Congress whose leadership and guidance is still speaking into every fiber of my being and the fabric of our country. The access and proximity that was afforded to me to be around this statesman was a once in a lifetime opportunity and his legacy and good works will be continued through me. Yet, I will choose to live in a space of gratitude for the transition out of one career into another, during this difficult time.
My mind still wants to take me to a dark place of what will happen next and surely something bad is around the corner. However, the Word says I will keep you in perfect peace whose MIND is stayed on me”. His peace is what we want. His peace is what we long for. Ask for His peace right now. I’ll wait … Okay, I know I am being restored with His peace and healed from the trauma of 2020. Let’s again be real. It has been, and still is traumatic for some as every day passes this year. BUT .. Psalm 107:20-22 “He sent out His word and healed them, he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and for His wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them sacrifice thank offerings, and tell of His works with songs of joy.” And lastly, I am grateful for the Grace of God that covered my Husband during a time of uncertainty with healing, breath in his lungs and doctors that operated with wisdom to combat this virus that has taken the lives of so many. I tell him everyday he is a walking miracle and testimony!
I am continuously walking in this space of the two (Grief and Gratitude) and that is okay. I hope that by my sharing, you can begin to face your grief knowing that your gratitude lies in our shepherd who will never leave us or forsake us. I hope that you will be able to speak His promises over your life because there is power in the word of God and what it says about our life. And I pray that God will show up for you in a way that leaves a lasting impression and a memory you will be able to hold on to during the challenging times so you can always find His faithfulness.
What areas of your life, can you point out places of grief and gratitude?