Editor’s note: “Living & Growing” has a new home. The weekly column written by local spiritual leaders and clergy will now appear alongside the Worship Directory every Friday.
By Kristina Abbot
Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church
There were many times this last year when I felt plagued with fear, paralyzed by anxiety and overwhelmingly exhausted. Thankfully, during these times I felt gently guided and comforted by God’s grace. I know with certainty, my strength within comes through Christ who strengthens me. I feel so blessed to have him at my side as I navigate through the ever changing ebbs and flows that life offers.
When I think about this past year, I do not look back on it with bitterness. It was an incredibly challenging, and exhausting year. At times I felt as though I was barely keeping my head above water. Through the difficulties that came from 2020, I have gained valuable life lessons and proverbial muscle that will prepare me for whatever lies ahead in this new year and for this I am thankful. This is not without saying that I miss being with my family, friends, my church family … I miss them all very much. I miss being able to run an errand with ease. Now a simple store run seems tightly regimented and rushed.
I have heard many describe this last year as “the worst ever” … it has indeed been very trying and vexatious to my spirit. I believe that for many, this has been a tragic year. A year of losing loved ones, losing a job, losing housing, increased food insecurity… without a doubt, this year has been traumatic. Yet, I think there are a few positives to be pointed out.
The one thing that I find fascinating, and perhaps to me it is somewhat comforting, but every person on the globe is experiencing the loss of the life we knew prior to living in a pandemic. It is a tragedy we can all relate with, and the empathy from this universal loss is a thread that bonds us all together in a time when we are forced apart. We have all had to be strong to keep moving forward each day. I would wager to say that every person right now has strength within themselves that they did not have a year ago. We should be proud that we have adapted to learning new apps and a digital way of life. It is not my personal favorite way to live, but the fact that we all have learned how to rise above, adapt and function – this is something to be proud of. Adversities in life bring forth capabilities within us that lie dormant without a challenge.
I believe the antidote to the struggles within adversity is the power of resiliency. Being resilient means that we have the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; it means we gain strength. When you have faced a massive adversity in life, and overcome it, you not only appreciate it, but you end up with a different perspective on life. You emerge from the traumatic experience with new skills that you can use next time you face something difficult.
As we begin to move forward into the new year, I suppose I am a bit of a realist when I think that the normality of the life we once knew will not be returning any time soon. While most of us are still navigating through covid-fatigue and trying not to curse at our internet connection during zoom meetings … be gentle with yourself and with others. While we may all be a little bit stronger and tougher than we once were, we still ache to be with loved ones and long for some sense of normalcy. We are all still in need of love and kindness towards one another. Simple acts of kindness and graciousness help heal the wounds and scars of the trauma that we have all been experiencing. Also know that you are most certainly not alone in this battle. Not only is everyone on the entire planet trying to cope and navigate this new way of living and functioning, but our heavenly father is at your side every step of the way upholding you with his righteous right hand. Nothing last forever — not even harshest adversities. This too shall pass. Blessings and peace to you in this new year!
• Kristina Abbott is a member of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.