January 4, 2021

Look In and Look Up

Last year at this time, I’d just begun the last semester of my homeschool mom career. I’d created each daughter’s final learning log and was facilitating their progress through the last of their coursework. Each had applied for and been accepted into her post-secondary study program of choice. One was in a serious relationship that I already knew would result in eventual marriage. I was coordinating our homeschool spring formal and our homeschool graduation ceremony. I was juggling our family schedule as well, aiming to coordinate the use of two cars between four drivers, three of whom worked outside the home on varying shifts.

And then COVID.

Without belaboring the point, we all know what that means. Simply put, nothing we anticipated at the start of 2020 played out as expected. Wrench upon wrench was thrown into the works of our lives, day in and day out. Every time we thought we’d rounded the bend toward the home stretch of our annus horribilus, we discovered that the markers had been moved on us without warning.

And now here we are at the dawn of 2021.

I don’t know about you, but I’m still grieving what I lost in 2020. I’m mentally drained. If I’m really honest, I’ll admit that I’m angry. And I’m sure I’m not alone. After all, we’re still in the midst of the circumstances that upended 2020, so we don’t yet have the closure that would allow us to fully move on.

But when “everything” feels too overwhelming, I’ve been coaching myself to redirect in two different ways. Specifically, I look in and I look up.

I look in by focusing on my home and family. I pay enough attention to politics and culture to be a responsible citizen; I even do what I can to affect change. But at the end of the day – to keep my equilibrium – I must hone in on my relationships with my husband, each of my daughters, and my son-in-law. I don’t know what will happen “out there” through 2021, but I can decide to love my family members no matter what. Knowing I have legitimate control over that brings peace.

Even more importantly, I look up – to God. I remind myself that He’s in full control of everything and that even I know the ultimate end of the story, as described in Revelation. But I let myself be “real” and cry out to Him, too, honestly admitting my fears and concerns. He doesn’t mind because I’m coming to Him like the father of the boy in Mark 9, who declared, “I do believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9.24) Knowing that He’s loving and strong enough to handle my stress and weakness brings peace.

Engagement in the wider world is good. Looking forward to what the future may hold – and making plans to accomplish various goals – is good. But if the events of 2020 bring us back to the importance of looking in and looking up, it wasn’t all for naught after all.


Photo Credit: Long Thiên

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