2020 has been a year to remember. For many, it is a year they hope they soon forget. The ravages of 2020 began for me a few months prior to the discovery of COVID-19 within the borders of the United States. 2020 greeted me with a funeral for my beloved husband who died the day after Christmas. It was and is still surreal. I was thrown into a crucible heated with a flame fueled by grief and isolation. I have endured this process for the entire year and am sure even now that it is not complete. Like many others I have experienced the death of loved ones. I have seen the effects of job loss. I have been in food lines as both the giver and the receiver. I am fortunate not to have a mortgage but have been engaged in a court battle to keep the home in which I have lived for almost twenty years.
I find myself reflecting on this year to extract the lessons it contains. This year has taught me a plethora of things about myself, my relationships, and the world in which we live. While some of the lessons were difficult and even hurtful, all were necessary for the transformation I see taking place.
- God is Faithful
When my husband died, one of the first words I heard in my spirit was, “God has not been unfair to me.” That was comforting because so often when someone we love dies, we feel as though we have been treated unfairly. At that moment I was quickened to understand that death is a part of life on earth and that what I was experiencing others had already experienced and still others would experience. Amid it all however, God was faithfully to me as God has always been. God is always faithful to ensure that I am not unfairly treated. For what I experience in my life is simply what is common to humankind.
- Family Should be Loved and Appreciated
I am blessed to have two sons, five grandchildren, three brothers and two sisters. In addition, I have a huge family of aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews. I am fortunate to have always known the unconditional love of family. Loving my family is something that I have always known to do. However, before this year I am not sure that I deeply appreciated them for who they are and how they enrich my life. Each family member brings a unique flavor and perspective to the family dynamic. No one family member of group of family members possess the right to determine what the family should be. The family just is and being a part of it has provided me with joy that has sustained me through not only this year but my entire life.
- Peace of Mind is Worth More Than Riches
My husband used to say that the reason rich people commit suicide was because they had things but did not have peace of mind. He would always ask God to give him peace of mind above everything else. My mind is extremely important to me. It must be kept whole and sound. This year, minds have been bombarded with so many horrific images. Images of people dying from COVID-19 alone and without family support, images of police brutality and murder, images of people in food lines, and many others are enough to cause minds to snap. Yet, while we acknowledge the images we see and create the images we long to see we gain peace in our minds. Putting our minds and hands to work to make the world better gives us peace of mind that extends far beyond anything acquired with riches.
- Faith and a Faith Family are Important
I had just joined a new church congregation when COVID-19 hit. I had only been a member two week when churches were shut down. Our church like many others decided to utilize social media platforms to provide a virtual worship experience. Determined to make that experience as close to a face-to-face experience as possible, our pastor conducted each Sunday Service from the church sanctuary. With only himself, the minister of music, the media ministry and sometimes a soloist or small group of singers, our pastor preached from the church pulpit every Sunday. He taught Bible Study and Weekly Teachers’ Meeting virtually from his church office. We came together using COVID-19 precautions to feed the hungry, appreciate our youth and minister to the community. “Church” burst out of the building and found its way into the streets of the community.
- Forgiveness is Key to Survival
My pastor called for 21 days of fasting and prayer from December 11-21. One of the items on our prayer list was forgiveness. One day, I was made keenly aware that although I was asking for and extending forgiveness in my prayers, deep down I was harboring unforgiveness towards someone that I felt had betrayed me. For several hours, Holy Spirit dealt with me concerning this. I realized that the only way to know for sure that we are practicing forgiveness is to allow Holy Spirit to examine our hearts and minds. Unforgiveness can derail dreams and cause distractions that disrupt focus. To survive and thrive, I must be made aware of hidden resentment and submit to forgiveness for others and accept forgiveness for myself.
- Mental Therapy is a Gift
This year I began seeing a counselor. I have known for years that I needed it. I would research and read but never make a commitment. When my husband died and the full onslaught of the pandemic occurred, I realized that my mental stability was at stake. Grief affects people in unimaginable ways, and I wanted to be fully aware of what was happening to me and posses the strategies to move through it. I think therapy in some form will be in my life for the rest of my life.
- Self-Love is the First Step to Loving Others
Someone once sang, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” This year I have learned that my ability to love others is predicated on my love for myself. Like so many others, for years I did what was expected without giving much thought to how I was affected. I have gained revelation that requires that I care for all aspects of my health. To accomplish my purpose in the earth, I must posses a sound body and a sound mind. How I eat, what I drink, how I sleep and what I take in through my senses either enhance or deplete my life. This awareness has pushed me to love myself. That is the only way I can be beneficial to others.
- Life is a Precious Gift
Not just because so many people have died from COVID-19, but because of the many other struggles I have endured in addition to that reality, I realize that life is a precious gift. So many things that I thought were important are not. Things that I would normally engage debate about are not even worth discussion. This blog was started to help us live life in a manner that is inspired, free and enthusiastic. As I have journeyed through this year, I have learned to seek out the inspiration in my soul that allows me to live free and enthusiastic.
This year has been filled with constraints that citizens of a free country never thought we would have to endure. Ours eyes have been forced to view and speak out concerning conditions like homelessness, educational disparity, political malfeasance, and food insecurity. These conditions have always affected those living in the margins. Hopefully, this new year will garner the unity necessary to bring about lasting change. The beauty of life is each day we choose to live it. As we enter a new year, my hope is that we help others find the beauty in life and that they choose to live it.