2020 Vision

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So, first blog post of 2020. Let me catch you up on my year…it has been eventful. In January I started a new job as a content writer for a startup where I was writing whole person leadership development courses. This job was an answered prayer. I felt like God was rewarding the time and energy I’d spent writing this blog by giving me an opportunity to write about a lot of the same topics but for actual money. It meant that I was a “real” writer. I was getting a paycheck every two weeks to write. It felt like a version of my writing dream was coming true. It was affirming in so many ways. Everything was rolling along pretty smoothly until the pandemic hit. I started working from home in March. The kids started doing zoom school. It was crazy and “unprecedented” and “uncertain” and our “new normal” and all those other cliche things. I was working on a big project that was launching in June. I felt like I was on a treadmill that kept getting turned to a faster setting. But I was hanging in there. Everyone was surviving and managing. Then at the beginning of June everything fell apart. The rug got pulled out from under us and then the floor also gave way. It felt like we were suddenly in free fall. On June 2nd, my husband got laid off because of Covid cutbacks. This was totally unexpected and blindsided us. Then the next day, June 3rd, I was laid off because of Covid. I did not see this coming at all. In 24 hours we went from two incomes to no incomes. It makes my stomach hurt just to type that.

I’m still recovering from the blow of losing a job I loved and was good at. It sucks, and I don’t want to sugarcoat it and pretend like it has been some blessing in disguise. It makes me mad and ashamed and sad. Why would God answer a prayer and then take it away so cruelly? I’m still working on an answer to that one. Even though I was only at that job for six months, it had felt like such a significant moment in my life. I think the pandemic had really heightened the sense of connection I felt to the people I worked with. Suddenly, that lifeline was just gone, erased. My identity as a working mom, the pride I felt in what I was doing, my feeling of being a “real writer” were taken away. In their place I got a giant pile of anxiety about how we were going to make ends meet and survive without going broke and slipping into despair.

I have been writing a lot since June–mostly I’ve been journaling and writing my novel. I haven’t wanted to blog because I have just felt too raw, too close to all of my feelings to be able to share them in any sort of helpful way. I still feel that way, but I keep having the nagging feeling that maybe I need to stop waiting until I’m all polished up and presentable and just share the hard stuff as is. Maybe that’s more helpful to anyone than some words of wisdom written at a safe distance. I mean, I know that’s for sure the case, but I want it to be the case for other writers and not for me.

I’ve been keeping a running list of things I’m learning right now. My hope is that maybe it will help someone else?

Things I know for certain in uncertain times:

  1. Dogs are the closest thing we have to Jesus on earth right now. They are the embodiment of mercy and grace and unconditional love. I don’t know what we would do without our dog, and I have to fight the urge to adopt more dogs constantly.
  2. I’m not defined by my accomplishments or failures. Those things are just accessories like a scarf or an unflattering hat. There is a “me” that is underneath what I do for a living, where I live, what car I drive. Losing my job and having our lives essentially grind to a halt because of the pandemic have given me the space and time to excavate the me that’s deep inside. She was buried alive by laundry and kids’ activities and work, but now she’s poking her head out. She has some interesting ideas about how she would like her life to go, and I’m starting to listen to her more and more.
  3. When one version of your identity dies a new one is able to be born. Right now, I imagine that I’m in this sort of womb phase. Something bigger than me is carrying me through and giving me what I need so that I can be born into a new thing.
  4. Along those same lines…God really does provide just what we need when we need it. We can’t necessarily stockpile for a rainy day with what God is providing us right now, but we have what we need just as we need it. I seem to keep getting freelancing work just at the right times. I feel in my bones that jobs will come for both of us at just the right time, and we will be okay. I’d really like to know when that right time is and put it on my Google calendar, but God is more of a trust me, I got it kind of guy.
  5. Everyone experiences suffering. I’m not unique. Some people have it worse than I do right now. Some people have it better. But everyone suffers at some point. It’s not that I want people to suffer, but it’s helpful to remember this when I get stuck in pity party mode.
  6. Joy and suffering are weirdly linked. I don’t get the math of it, but I have felt more joy these past few months than I can remember feeling in years. Maybe suffering puts you in a different headspace and suddenly joy is revealed to you in a way that you normally might not see?
  7. Writing three pages longhand in a journal every morning is free therapy. Go ahead and try it and see if I’m not right about this.
  8. You will see what you’re looking for. Writing three things you’re grateful for each day is like a magic trick, shifting you from pitiful to grateful in a matter of seconds.
  9. Exercise and comedy have kept me from getting depressed. I definitely feel sad and discouraged at times, but I haven’t felt incapacitated by my sadness. I haven’t felt hopeless. My family has watched a lot of comedy together. We watch SNL, The Simpsons, John Mulaney, Ted Lasso. Bring on inappropriate humor with the kids! There are a few perks to having teens and one of the best ones is being able to laugh at stuff together while simultaneously thinking, wait, you think that’s funny too?
  10. Pride goes before a fall. But after you’ve fallen, and you are lying on the ground feeling humiliated, that’s when you are finally humble enough to learn some things. I’m still very much in the on-the-ground-learning-things phase. My view from down here is not so bad. Lying on your back is how you see the sky, the stars, it’s a good way to talk to God or to just listen to trees making their tree noises. The sky and the stars and the trees and God have seen so much. They aren’t really surprised by 2020 and all its craziness. They are big enough to absorb all of the pain and hurt. I’m almost ready to just give it all to them, like a Goodwill drop off after you’ve cleaned out your closet. Here. Here’s all the junk. It’s your problem now. I’d like to say I’m at this stage of things, but I’m not. I’m still holding on to my junk, thinking I have to carry it with me always.

I want to put a neat little bow on this blog post and make us all feel better about things. But I feel like that’s not authentic. The truth is I’m in the middle of things still. There’s not a neat, happy ending. If you are a praying person, will you pray for us? It makes me feel weak asking for that, but maybe doing the thing that makes you feel weak is how you get stronger? I’ll report back.

Thanks for reading this. Thanks for caring and praying and walking through this with me. If you are suffering, you can come sit by me. I will listen and I won’t try to make it better, but I do know that somehow it will get better. While you’re waiting for things to get better, maybe get a dog you can watch some stand up comedy with.

7 thoughts on “2020 Vision

  1. Kristen

    Elizabeth,
    How brave and beautiful.
    There is some HUGE wisdom here, pandemic or not.
    Keep sharing. Here is one person it’s encouraged! Happy for a FaceTime chat any time!
    Always fondly,
    Kristen

    Like

  2. Vanessa Bowers

    Love reading your styleful text. I’m sorry you’ve been suffering, wherever it may fall on the scale. I hope it ends soon but that you indeed do feel truer to self for having felt it. Maybe one day I’ll feel brave enough to share my own.
    I miss you.

    Like

  3. Alex Furlong

    Big hugs! Sharing in the raw is so powerful. Thank you! Beautifully written and I am so grateful for my dog! And you can always ask for prayers and help!

    Like

  4. Linda Bourianoff

    Thank you for having the courage to share the “not so pretty, tied up neatly with a bow” parts of your life. It’s refreshing, authentic, and most of all helpful. I love the language and the deep meaning of “The sky and the stars and the trees and God have seen so much. They aren’t really surprised by 2020 and all its craziness. They are big enough to absorb all of the pain and hurt.”

    Please keep writing you have something important to say. I will pray for your family and you. Please pray for my family and me. This has been one of the most challenging times of my life, and I am 77, which in human years is a very long time. 😊🙏🏻

    Like

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