2020 was a year I’m certain none of us will ever forget. It was a rollercoaster of emotions: fear, dread, hope, joy, darkness, beauty and grief. As I reflect on the year I realize I learned a lot about myself.
For one thing, I discovered my problem wasn’t being too busy, though I always claimed it was.
When the lockdown came, it didn’t break my heart to be home for days on end, cooking all of our meals instead of racing through fast food joints between basketball practice and dance rehearsals. For three weeks straight, we actually used up all the lettuce in those big bins that normally turn to slime before we can eat it all! I cherished reading more books and laughing with my kids. But I wasn’t nearly as creative or productive as I would have thought I would be, given the cancellation of all sports, dance and church activities. Though I wasn’t busy, I was distracted. You name it, it pulled my attention away. I was like a poorly trained dog surrounded by squirrels. Settle down at last to a book and, BAM, my eyes would dart around…a notification, a voice trickling down the stairs, or the thoughts in my head spinning out of control as I watched too much news…and I found I had read the same sentence five or six times before giving up and putting the book down. (And here we are at the end of the year. I wonder how many wasted hours I have spent mentally running in circles or scrolling mindlessly? The thought makes me want to cry.)
In 2020 I found out I can endure things that might have been considered someone’s worst nightmare. Our family suffered health scares and traumas that stretched us and brought me to my knees in desperate prayer. In the midst of it all, God was right there. His strong arms never failed to hold me up when my knees buckled in grief. His love surrounded and filled me when I felt I couldn’t breathe. The gospel of Jesus Christ became more alive and real to me than it has ever been in my life and I am forever changed. Oh, how He loves us.
I also learned I wasn’t as content as I would have told you a year ago, for when the opportunity came to cut and run to the country I did. We very suddenly moved from a neighborhood that I thought I loved to a home on acreage that I adore. A dream I had pushed back for years is now coming to fruition and I am truly grateful. So much good lies ahead. We have a chicken coop being built, are on a wait list for baby goats, and might even get a couple of lop-eared bunnies because WHY NOT?
As if all this wasn’t enough, in 2020 I hit menopause. For real. Hot flashes, exhaustion, and a jacked-up metabolism have plagued me this year. Plug a cord in me and you could power a house. I am not even kidding. In desperation I am joining the Whole 30 bandwagon for January. I’ve done it once before but rushed out of it too quickly. I remember how I felt, the energy, the good sleep, the confidence returning as I slipped on my jeans and didn’t have to “suck it in” to zip them. I am actually excited that I will not be eating grains, legumes, sugar, dairy or consuming alcohol of any kind for a solid month because the payoff will be worth it. I know it will be challenging but I need this challenge.
Why? I need the energy of health to make Arundelle Green all God has planned for it to be. My kids are almost grown and we have memories to make. One day I’ll have grandkids and I want to be that fun grandma who doesn’t have trouble getting up off the floor. I don’t have time for aches and pains OR extra pounds!
Finally, I learned that God fulfills His calling in ways we often don’t expect. My word for 2020 was “engage.” I had no idea what that was supposed to look like but, boy did God ever clarify it! Engaging in the work of racial reconciliation, social justice, and befriending a young woman with terminal cancer (on top of the normal stuff of parenting and homemaking) marked this year in an unforgettable fashion. I have laughed and wept, trembled and shrugged. I have said “2020” through gritted teeth and marveled at the blessings contained in a year riddled with pain and suffering.
Like my beautiful friend, Ruth Naomi Floyd, said in her talk at this year’s “Hutchmoot Homebound,”
Through the heart of the darkest night, there is light ever-present.
I did what God said I would do. Despite the constant distractions, I engaged. Then, as 2020 drew to a close He gave me the marching orders for 2021. The word I sought in these final few days of the year. It came in a flash and I chuckled because, of course that’s the word. Shake off the fears, Jeanine, and get ready. The word for 2021 is…
Let’s do this.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, FROM Arundelle Green!