These days I’m trying with a new eagerness to pause, because the days and weeks and months are slipping into history. It’s a different kind of discipline for 2020—the year full of challenge after challenge after challenge. Pausing takes a whole lot of intentionality in this season because some days just don’t feel like gifts. They feel chaotic and exhausting. They stretch me to my limit, take me to the end of myself, and then ask me to take one more step forward. Somedays are just hard, and at the end of it, I want to collapse on the couch. Some seasons are just hard, and at the end of them, I want to block out the months of struggle. Sometimes I just want to push the reset button on 2020, or at least fast forward to a day when life feels normal.
And on these days, I forget the absolute gift of each day until the Father reminds me. He always does, doesn’t he? In ways that speak to our souls, He reminds each of us. He pulls our hearts close to His and helps us remember the gifts He’s poured on us, the blessings and beauty in the midst of the mess.
A Needed Reminder
A few weeks ago after a particularly chaotic afternoon helping kids with homework, I walked three sisters to their home a few blocks away. Here’s what you need to know about this particular day. I felt frayed and frazzled after nearly two hours of helping kids with assignments. I was tired and hungry and done.
But like He does so often, the Father called me back to His heart, because it’s not about me. It’s not about my limits. It’s about His heart, His goodness, His grace that pours out gift after gift when we feel weakest. In the moments we feel weak, so often He surprises us. And on that day as I walked with these sisters on a busy Chicago sidewalk, I felt the smallest hand slip into my own as one of them looked up at me, telling me a story about her weekend.
This is why I am trying to pause more and more, because I don’t want to miss these moments or the ones that create space for it.
The Gifts Along the Way
The first time I visited this family’s home, we stayed in the apartment entryway. For one reason or another, their mom didn’t want me to come up to their apartment. So we stood in the entryway, sweating in 100 degree heat—laughing and talking about silly things.
On my third visit, they invited me upstairs for the first time, and now I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been in this family’s home. Over time, we built trust. We built a sweet, growing relationship during a dozen tiny moments. Day after day, the Father gave us opportunities. He gave us gifts, and He still does.
This family didn’t invite me into their home the first time I went over, and that’s ok. I get it, but like the trees that slowly change from green to yellow to orange to bright red, our relationship changed and grew more beautiful.
From sweating in the entryway to their apartment
To stepping into their home for the first time
To meeting their newborn son
To celebrating one of the girl’s birthdays
To sharing samosas and mango lassi
To playing hide and seek in every room in their small apartment
To walking hand in hand down the sidewalk in Chicago
Recognizing the Gifts Around Us
These days are gifts. Even in the most challenging seasons—like a year filled with a global pandemic, economic turmoil, political unrest, racial tensions—the Father is unfolding a story that will take our breath away. This is a gift.
So friend, even in the midst of the struggles all around us, even in the midst of our busy schedules, even in the midst of the emotional and mental burdens we carry, may we pause and see the gifts the Father gives us.
Like these changing seasons, the leaves on the trees. Like our family and our community. Like the life He gives us when we feel pulled and stretched and at the very end of ourselves. Like the breath we breathe in and out every day.
Like a little hand that slips into your own.