As I’ve pondered what to say in this years annual installment of my letters to the previous year, I find myself not even sure what to say. So many events, so many situations, conversations, conflicts, emotions… it seems impossible that all these things have actually spanned just one solitary year. Somehow it feels like my last “Dear 20__” post was more like ten years ago instead of just one.
I went back and read through last years post, and it felt like another lifetime. One full of trips and plans and looking ahead to the things we expected to come. I posted that we had survived the year despite having some of the worst arguments in our five year post affair history. Little did I know those were small potatoes compared to the ones we were gonna have in 2020.
2020 came swinging for us much like 2015 did, just in different ways. And it very nearly took my marriage out. There was no infidelity this time around, but we found ourselves at constant odds. I’m not at all proud of the number of times the word divorce came up over the course of the year. And when our youngest daughter, the one who was devastated at even the possibility of it five years ago, the one that would say to me back then, “Mama, Daddy is so sad and he said he’s sorry so why won’t you let him come home?” … When she looked at both of us a couple of months ago and said, “ oh my gosh, would y’all please just get a divorce already!” It’s then that we knew that things were really really bad and we were reaching a breaking point and something had to give. Honestly, at that point I wasn’t even exactly sure how we ended up back in such a bad place , though I knew some of the core issues that got us there. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t angry. Angry that God somehow brought us through all of the things he did to have us disintegrate over what pretty much boiled down to differing politics and world views. If 2020 did one thing for everyone, it was this: it burned off all the outer layers, sifting and refining and exposing what was in our hearts. What was at the core of us. The things we believed in, and the hills we were willing to die on. And it was no respecter of persons, it came for us all.
And it left me questioning my decisions over the past 5 years, wondering if we had made the wrong one and wasted 5 years and for what? Had we found redemption, and shared the hope of that with thousands of people only to have that come crashing down in a pile of disappointment and regret? And if so, what had been the point, and why had God allowed us to take this path only to find more heartache? And should I even be blaming God at all, or did we truly just have ourselves to blame?
We were basically both at our wits end, struggling to find any common ground, or any path back to loving each other well. Looking at each other saying, “How do we fix this?”, and neither really knowing what to do next.
And in that moment I realized, we both needed a reminder of where we came from. What we had overcome. What we had almost lost five years ago and the lengths we went to to fight our way back and build something good. So then I pulled out the big guns. I went into our room and I dug out the daily journal Jeff’s life coach had him keep while we were separated, and I read it, and then I walked into our living room, and I told Jeff that I was going to ask him to do this one last ditch effort for me…for us, and read that journal from the first entry to the last, and that if after reading it, he saw no way back to that, and truly thought our future was better spent apart, that I would go ahead and file for divorce, knowing that we had tried our best. I knew that the only way I know to fix this, was to go back to our darkest, hardest days. To remember the pain and then the clarity and then the hope and the willingness to do all the hard things to glue our family back together. I knew that if reading that, and revisiting those feelings didn’t change our hearts on the matter, nothing would.
And that was the turning point. It was exactly the reminder and the swift kick in the gut we both needed to put our focus back on the things that really matter. We still live on completely opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to things like politics and soo many other topics. But when it comes down to it, what we can agree on is that our family, people, and love are what truly matters. So we agree to disagree on the rest. We try extra hard to keep from getting in heated discussions of our opinions on ALL the hot topics, and focus on the good things. And apparently that old adage is true, opposites truly do attract. 😂
Its been a tough year for all of us. Emily struggled her way through quarantine, some really difficult online classes and facing some life changing personal revelations.
Kate went off to college excited about the college life and all the fun things that normally entails only to end up stuck in her dorm room and having an experience that was absolutely nothing like what she had envisioned.
But Emily absolutely aced all her classes, (she always does) and faced some really hard things with bravery. And Kate left college and came home and started herself a small online business. So we were empty nesters all of about two whole months 😂
And that’s ok. Because I could not be prouder of the way they navigated this year and all of its unexpected curveballs, and it makes this Mama’s heart happy to see them both chasing after their best life and their true selves.
I started out this year thinking I would do so much writing, but ended up writing less than in any of the past five years. I thought about that book that is halfway written, knowing I couldn’t write another word in it because I suddenly and unexpectedly had absolutely no idea anymore how our story was gonna play out. And as far as this blog goes, I waffled this whole year back and forth somewhere in between having absolutely NO words to having SO,SO many words, and struggling with which words I truly wanted to share with the world. Or I should say, which words I SHOULD share with the world. So, I’m sorry for my obvious absence from this platform. But know that I’ve spent this time away , sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally growing, learning, sharpening, reflecting, deconstructing, rebuilding and no doubt preparing my heart and mind for the words God would have me share in the future. I am not done here yet, of that I am sure. Writing is a part of very my soul, and no matter how long I may avoid it, I am always drawn back to it, and the way it soothes my weary or anxious soul.
2020 has changed us all. It took so much from all of us, but I believe over time , we will see the necessary ways in which it brought about change and that it also gave us more than we realize or can even see yet.
So, 2020, it’s been real. And unreal. It’s been literally a roller coaster of ALL the things. And to be quite honest, we are all done with you. DONE.
If we take nothing else good from this year, I hope it is this. Be grateful. For every good thing. The big ones, the small ones, the exciting moments and the quiet ones. For the people that we love. For the people in the world doing good. For food. For shelter. For family and friends. For our sweet fur babies. For every moment we have with every person we love. For the moments of joy between the moments of loss. For the hope of tomorrow. For the promise that for every long dark night, the light of morning always, always comes.
We are weary. We are tired. We are frustrated and we are sad.
But we are also full of hope.
So be good to us.
What is my resolution for 2021?
To do all the things that need to be done and to encourage as many people as I can to do all the things that need to be done to make it possible for me to go sit in my Mama’s kitchen again. To smell the bacon my Dad would most certainly happily fry up for me, and to eat all my Mama’s snacks while listening to her tell a story that tickles her so very much she can barely get the words out for laughing so hard.
I want to plan trips with them and stand closer than 6 feet away and hug them when I arrive and when I leave. I want my nurse husband and my nurse sister in laws and all of their coworkers to not be overwhelmed with the overflowing number of patients coming into our hospitals. I want to open Facebook and not see post after post about someone’s loved one fighting for their life against this virus. I have so many more words about this, but won’t get into that here in this post. If you want to read them, go see my last post from yesterday on my Facebook page, that pretty much sums it all up.
So for all of you reading this, let’s all resolve to just be good to each other. Lay down the politics, the disagreements, the paranoia, all of it, and follow the true call of Jesus which is to love thy neighbor, and put the good of others ahead of ourselves and our opinions and our political loyalties and leanings. The Bible tells us to have faith, but it also says for us not to be foolish. We can have full faith in God while also trusting science and that God has gifted us with people that have the knowledge and the ability to create medical miracles like vaccines. We can have faith in God while also taking precautions to protect ourselves and others. What kind of message does the stance “faith over fear” and the proclamation that “I can gather in crowds and disregard all safety measures, because God will protect me.” , send? When someone falls terribly ill or their loved one dies, the message they hear from that is that God didn’t protect them. That maybe God doesn’t love them, or somehow your faith was superior to theirs. And that my friends, is not the message of love and compassion that Jesus has for us all.
“The Lord will take me when it’s my time”, you say?
Ok then, let me ask you this, do you step out in front of a bus to test if it’s your time or not? Do you push someone else out in front of that bus and hope it’s not their time? Do you ignore the red lights that some very smart people invented as a safety measure and precaution because you don’t need anyone telling you when it’s your turn and it’s your right to put others at risk by not yielding to traffic? No. No you do not.
Ok, so maybe I had a few more words after all. 😂 I guess I always do, lol.
I pray that 2021 brings us a resolve to be kind. To be thoughtful of others. To truly love our neighbors. To see that sometimes the answers to our prayers come in the form of scientists and health care workers. I pray this next year brings us all more peace, I pray it brings us health and an end to this pandemic. I pray that it brings us a release from all the anxiety and that we all feel like we can breathe again. I pray that it brings me and my brothers and sisters and all of our kids safely back to the table in my Mama’s kitchen, laughing uncontrollably at one of her stories while our Dad cooks us an “eggy sandwich” with bacon.
I pray that at the end of next year we can all find ourselves celebrating Christmas in the biggest most joyous of ways, together with our families and loved ones.
I pray for peace and comfort for the ones who have lost the people they love.
I pray we all find the paths we are meant to take, the ones that lead us to our best lives and our truest and best selves.
I pray that we will all do our best to just be good to each other. To love each other well.
And most of all, I pray 2021 brings us all joy. Pure, unspeakable joy.
Happy New Year.
Amy Thurston Gordy