the joy of celebrating and the art of letting go
The year 2020 has been a glorious complexity. The fragrant, evident, nearness of God has combined itself with isolation, job loss, heartbreak, and uncertainty.
Question marks should and can lead to greater faith, faith that is unfazed by rising impossibilities.
But more often, question marks drive a wedge of unbelief between the circumstance and the promise.
It has been more important, this year than ever before, to grip on every promise of God and trust that He is exactly who he says he is.
To remind my impossibilities that I serve a God who is able to do the impossible.
To remind my uncertainties that I serve the Prince of the Peace that surpasses understanding.
To remind my loneliness that the God I serve is near, and close, and present, and friend.
To remind my pain that my Father is the Great Physician.
To remind my circumstances that heaven is my home.
It has been ever important to attempt to understand the penned truth in Hebrews— that faith is confidence in things hoped for but not yet seen.
And it has been ever more important to lean not on my own understanding, and to instead submit to God in all my ways, allowing Him to make my paths straight.
I’ve learned some things through the complexities of this year. I just want to share 2 that I hope will encourage your heart and stir your faith.
Sometimes letting go is good.
Not all letting go happens by choice— sometimes you are forced into releasing the things you gripped with all your heart and all your might.
This year more than ever, I’ve had to let go of friendships.
Friendships I treasured— people I treasured.
Some who didn’t treasure me back.
Others who felt situations had made friendship with me complicated.
And some simply faded because of the busyness of life, and all the things that factor in.
Walking through hardship and realizing that the people you trusted to be there, aren’t, is a perplexing reality.
Should I be angry or sad, or confused or hurt?
The answer might be all of the above mixed with heaps of grace and mercy and understanding about the details you’d be wrong to assume.
Sometimes these situations are unintentional and other times they simply mean a season has come to an end. Not final end (Though sometimes that is necessary). Sometimes you go from close friends to acquaintances, or from mentor/mentee, to people that only chat a couple times of year.
God taught me the art of letting go.
Not angry letting go, not frustrated letting go. But release. Peaceful, hopeful, ‘best wishes’ release.
Not every relationship is for every season. Some relationships God uses for a reason within a time frame, and then life changes and they don’t come with, and it may be sad but it is okay.
I didn’t want God to teach me this lesson.
I felt like every true friendship had to be preserved forever in the state it originally existed.
But through the many happenings of 2020, I’ve come to cherish a heart posture of openness and release.
A posture that is able to say
“Thank you for being a treasured part of this season.
Thank you for being present and near in the time we had together.
I wish you the best and I want you to succeed.
I would have loved it if you were coming with me, but even if that isn’t our reality, I pray you experience tangible community that laughs with you and mourns with you, and I hope you experience intimacy with God and the blessings that flow from a life of serving God.”
Some of those relationships will never come back, and others will grow and change and flourish overtime, ultimately coming full circle.
Taking time to grieve with God has made my heart okay with either outcome.
God truly cares about our dreams and desires.
If I told you every twist and turn, every tumble and wall I navigated while getting my degree, you’d think you were watching a soap opera. So many hard, difficult, impossible things happened and there are so many instances I only escaped by the grace of God.
And so when I graduated earlier this year, it was really really important to me to be able to celebrate my accomplishments. Somehow through everything I navigated, I was able to graduate from university with Honors! Insomnia, incurable neck pain, working full time and writing 9 papers a week, did not defeat me.
I started planning what I imagined would be a beautiful celebration, friends and family in attendance, a RED beautiful dress to wear, cap and gown, walking across the stage waving to my cheering family, taking professional photos, and having a grad party. Sealing the end of a season with celebration. But out of nowhere everything I hoped to do was cancelled by COVID.
I didn’t tell anyone how distraught I was. I just said I was disappointed. But in my heart I was crushed that I wouldn’t have a moment to celebrate the finished season that almost killed me (literally— I’ll tell that story someday). I kept hoping God was going to reach down from heaven and snatch COVID up so that the celebration could go on as planned.
But month after month, that kept not happening.
We tried to celebrate, and I leaned in as much as I could to those moments of celebration because it was the flexibility and intentionality of my community in action.
At some point I gave up hoping to walk at all. I thought "maybe it’s some lesson from God about perseverance and not getting what you want and choosing joy anyway-- I guess I'll try and learn it".
Then all of a sudden, my graduation was back on!
My whole family was able to attend. We booked a hotel and hopped on a flight to florida! I booked a photographer who took beautiful photos and the day of my graduation I put on a beautiful dress and took some amazing graduation photos.
When it was time to graduate, I put on my cap and gown I walked to the stadium. As we marched out to the football field and I waved to my family in the stand, I cried.
I hate crying, and I rarely cry, but I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. As the fireworks exploded in the sky the speaker said “I present to you, THE CLASS OF 2020” and cheers erupted. A welcomed display of unity after a year of division. I’m not sure of the other stories represented on that football field, but somehow we were all back on that field celebrating our accomplishments after a season that almost broke many of us.
Yes— we were socially distanced, yes— we were wearing masks, yes— everyone in attendance had to be temperature checked, and yes— even with all the things I wish weren’t the reality, it was still beautiful.
It was the kindness of God to allow me to get to do something he knew meant the world to me, in a way that was as safe as the situation allowed.
Every detail was better than what I imagined—down to the red dress.
God cares about the things that are close to our hearts.
In His wisdom, God won’t give us everything we want. Yet, simultaneously, in His kindness, God makes our lives abundant and our blessings overflow.