For two years I had looked forward to The Week.
The Week was when every member of my immediate family was going to be together under one roof, for the first time in two.whole.years. The Week was when we’d laugh together, make new memories together, and hear about what these past years have held. After spending a few years on the other side of the world from my family, I was so, so, so ready for The Week.
But then, 2020.
The Week changed to The Weekend. The Big Plans at Cool Locations changed to Mom and Dad’s Backyard. A plan that worked better with 2020. A plan that was safer and simpler and hopefully still satisfying. Disappointing, yes, but still some form of The Week would happen, and I was excited.
I packed my car, and set to leave in the morning, ready to launch The Week into motion.
And then, 2020.
Anxiety crept in like a lion, stealing my joy. The weight of COVID decisions about made me nuts. Was it ok for me to be with my family? What if I would inadvertently be bringing harm to my family? Would it be best for everyone if I just avoided The Week altogether?
Toss and turn. Toss and turn. That was my night.
But the call of The Week was stronger than the call of my anxiety. The voice of the Spirit nudging me towards it, towards the plan we had revamped in light of the current circumstances. The call of Jesus to trust Him, even in 2020.
A few hours later, I pull in. I open my door and The Week begins. Anxiousness is rising in me, worry bubbling up. I stay guarded and distant. Worried. Scared.
I arrive just in time to watch my 8-year-old niece blow out the candles on her birthday cake. Just in time for the celebration she has been waiting for the past 364 days. Just in time to watch her unabashed joy and delight over being surrounded by those she loves as she enters a new year.
And I’m struck. This child can celebrate, even here. Her innocence and security in her parent’s protection allows her to know deep joy and delight, even here. Her thrill that the big day has arrived make uncertainty vanish, even here.
And I’m sitting in the far corner with a lump in my throat.
This eight-year-old taught me something that night. Even now, even here, we can celebrate.
In fact, even now, even here, we should celebrate.
Long ago, the prophet Habakkuk knew this so well:
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vine,
Though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
Though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls
(so many potential 2020 rewrites for those lines)
But he goes on…
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my savior.
My eight-year-old niece reminded me of this. Be careful, yes. Follow the guidelines, for certain. Protect one another, absolutely.
But also, celebrate. Revel in the goodness of Jesus. Delight in what He has given. COVID has not stolen everything from us; we can rejoice in what we do have. Savor the moments with those we love.
This is not an easy time to celebrate. It’s easier to give in to anxiety and pessimism. But Habakkuk’s words and an 8-year old’s starry eyes tell us another story.
2020 has been hard, but there is still so much to celebrate.
Has it been hard to incorporate celebration into 2020? What might it look like to add it to your life?
We are wrapping up our Summer Live series this week as we chat about navigating wedded bliss on the field. If you are married and serving cross-culturally, we hope you will come be part of our live chat about the joys and challenges! If you are single and want to know how to better understand your married teammates, this conversation is for you too. Join us live on our Facebook page or watch the replay!