At the start of 2020, I felt the quiet conviction to Be Ready. For what? Whatever it was, I knew the answer was to be content. To stop adding more, looking for more, but to appreciate and cultivate what I already had. I stopped wasting precious free time wandering stores. I de-cluttered and focused on what I liked about my home instead of what I didn’t. I thought about how to better nurture each family member. Basically, I removed myself from the center of the equation, rolled up my sleeves, looked heavenward, and nixed any obvious distractions.
2020 progressed and freedoms were taken away. Everyone lost something, ranging from freedom of choice and social visits to jobs and even lives. Yet every Christian I’ve talked to recently has said that despite everything, they’ve actually grown spiritually.
Christians believe what the Creator says about our destiny. But if we are “citizens of heaven” (Philippians 3:20), how do we possibly grow in less than ideal conditions during our time on earth? And how do we explain the odd fact that Christianity has only ever flourished under hostile conditions?
Have you ever grown a narcissus paperwhite flower in the fall/winter? Apparently, if you want to force this bulb to bloom before spring, you stick it on some rocks with a little water underneath, and hide it in a dark, cool place for a month. At first, I just did the rock and water thing and placed it by my kitchen window. It grew a tiny bit then stopped. I checked Google, then cleaned up the rotted roots, gave it fresh water, and stuck it in the cabinet holding my deep cleaning supplies. I know by saying this, it’ll reveal how much I deep clean, but….
I completely forgot about it for a month, and when I found it again, I was delighted to see healthy green growth nearly touching the top of the cabinet. I put it in the window and my kids and I enjoyed seeing the flowers emerge soon afterwards. I wish I would have taken a picture, but watching the way this little $1.50 bulb bloomed gave me a picture of the surprising effects 2020 - and maybe our time on earth - had on some of us.
Through science, we’ve learned a lot about the things that cause a human to thrive, and isolation is not one of them. And yet...how many of us, in all our busyness and digital connections and continual information acquisitions, were more isolated (spiritually and emotionally) before the pandemic than afterwards? We said yes to all the things, to the guilt of needing to do or be or read everything. We sought comfort and meaning through consumerism and entertainment. Meanwhile, we were only half-present in our most meaningful, most impactful, relationships. (including God)
For me, 2020 was a reset. I felt like that little bulb in my cabinet. I read a quote by Ashley Hales this week that has stuck with me:
Life is found not in the doing or having but in the being - with Jesus, with each other at church, as a family and with neighbors.
My word/theme for 2021?