This was one event of 2020 that I expected, but, holy moly, what about all the events I didn't expect? A pandemic, 3 family deaths, racist roots exposed, riots and unrest in our streets, political ridiculousness, empty classrooms and empty churches. Along with endless family time, a slower more restricted pace of life, and virtual connections.
I am most thankful to have had the privilege of being home with my old pup from March until his death in September. To process this loss and try to make sense of everything that was happening in my world I reflected on what having a furry companion taught me over the past 14 years and how it applied to 2020.
Here are some lessons learned that helped me bridge the gaps between what I knew and what I was learning this year.
1. We were made to love
We were made to love.
In John 13: 34-35 Jesus gives a new commandment to his disciples.
Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
It is impossible to lose the love of God, He is the beginning and the end and we have not seen the end yet. So even when love is lost it does not change the fact that we are so loved and because of that we were made to love.
What does that look like for you? Where is God calling you to love others? At work? On social media? In your family?
If you are not sure where to start maybe the next lesson will help.
2. The company of another is good for the soul
We are better together.
"Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World" by Vivik H Murthy, MD was the best book I read in 2020. He says,
It took me years to see that, just as the concrete draws most of it strength from the water poured on it in the days after it's placed, each of us gains our strength not by virtue of being born but because of the love that is showered upon us in the days, months, and years that follow. That love comes through our relationships with everyone around us.
There will be repercussions from 2020 as a result of social isolation, but to what extent I am not sure. As a middle school teacher my students have lost almost two years of social development. Things must look different as we move forward and bridge the chasms that a lack of being in community has forged on our relationships in the context of community.
Our world, our country and our communities are desperate for a showering of love that only comes through our communal relationships with others around us. Some of us have tried to be bridge builders during this pandemic. Some of us have not. Either way it is time to restore what isolation and loneliness have broken in 2020. Fresh concrete needs to be poured out and the way forward strengthened by the love we were all meant to give an receive in the context of relationship.
What small step can you make today? Call a friend maybe? Send a note? Initiate a conversation with a neighbor? Check on someone who you know has gotten too comfortable with isolation?
Maybe you need to cross over your own bridge from isolation to community. Remember, when the traffic jam of fear bottleneck your intentions, move over. The lane of love flows freely helping you arrive at a place where fear can never take you. It might be quite a ride, but it will always be worth it!
The lessons above are constant though. We can always love better. We will always retreat to isolation when fear draws near. We must take the wheel on that fear and drive it across the bridge to love, leaving fear on the other side. And within the context of community, the trip will take you places you could never have imagined had you been alone.
You know what that means in a pandemic . . .
So far this year has already been a journey of healing and restoring.
May it continue to be so as we merge back into the flow of community.
P.S. Enjoy a picture of our new pup, Jovie - girl, the floppy doodle.