This is about that time of the year when I “close the books” and reflect on what’s transpired in the last months. As I look back, the word surprise may be the understatement of the year in my (and perhaps everyone else’s) opinion.
2020 surprised me in many ways. There was the new normal, my job resignation, and when I thought that was the last of it, my moving apartments (yes, in a pandemic) last month. I look at every last bit of my life right now, and see that everything’s changed.
This was the year where every flighty thing that could be taken away, moved, replaced, or shaken up would have probably done all that by now, yet I believe with all my heart that the greatest gift that 2020 ever gave me (and maybe all of us) was the gift of clarity.
Clarity is what comes when the fog finally settles, and you finally see, perhaps for the first time, where you’ve standing all along.
What clarity has done for me personally was to reveal two things.
The first was the beautiful and eternal things I possessed in life; some more recent than others. My relationship with Jesus. My family, also in good and in bad. My key friendships who have quickly transitioned to video calls (thank you, technology!).
The second, however, was all the fluff that I held onto in my description of what I thought was truly living. These were, as it turns out, the first things to be shaken when the pandemic hit. Such as: A stable and clear-cut career path. Financial plans. The need for control. The malls, coffeeshops, and restaurants that brought me joy whenever I needed a pick-me-up.
And while I’m on this second thing, I cannot help but stress this: Everything that activities brought. Relationships that heavily relied on activities to keep afloat. Areas of my relationship with Jesus that were built on activities. Activities that gave me a false sense of accomplishment, confidence, and security to reassure myself that “I was on the right track.”
Because, in one full sweep, all of those were gone, gone, gone.
At first, and to be really honest, it was both terrifying and sobering for me to realize how much fluff I had in my life. How much activity I needed to do in order to tell others, but really more of myself, that I was faring well in life.
But it was only after getting rid of all of that, and simplifying a lot of things my life (not all by choice), that I have learned to enjoy life—REAL LIFE!—more.
At home. In bed. With whatever chips I bought at the online grocery the other week.
At home. On the phone. Talking to friends who lived hundreds and thousands of miles away while they did their laundry or was working too.
At home. On the phone. Talking to friends who lived hundreds and thousands of miles away while they did their laundry or were working too.
At home. Looking outside my window. Telling God my honest thoughts about things. Napping afterwards.
Clarity can be a comforting thing for those of us who have learned to let go of the fog that life usually brings. On the other hand, it could be the scariest thing in the world for those who have built their entire lives on something as fickle as fog. Even worse, they buy a smoke machine to keep the fog there, afraid of what their life really looked like without it.
My hope and desire for you is that, whether you find yourself comforted or terrified by the clarity that 2020 brought you, you will begin to take hold of that which is truly life.
The year’s not yet over. This pandemic’s not yet through. Don’t waste this precious gift.
Because like me, it might just be the answered prayer you’ve been waiting for all along. It might just also be God’s way of responding to your soul’s desperate cry after so many years:
A life without the fog. A life with 20/20 vision.