In an era of uncertainty, quarantine, lost income, fear, and a new way of life, there are seemingly endless restrictions and losses. At first glance, our existence has not improved. But. For those of us that have faced the illness of a child or survived a personal catastrophe, for those of us like me, this is where we know life gets good. This is where we can say “yes” to choosing happiness and finding ways to get back up after stumbling. This is where we can find joy in the simple things and return to a finer appreciation for the golden aspects of our stories- those parts of our tales previously marred by all the tings that glittered. Now, when we dig deeper within ourselves, we can find our best and authentic selves. Because eventually, there will be a time where we say yes to taking chances and living life more boldly and beautifully than ever before. In these years of extra hand washing and keen awareness of life’s fragility, you will master a new sort of sanity and happiness. Trust me. I know.
In 2014, I said “yes” to continuing a pregnancy that would result in a baby born with a rare, complex, and likely incurable heart defect. By doing so, I said “yes” to getting to know the most brilliant boy, one that likes to protect me during Nerf wars and investigate bugs during our outdoor explorations. As a result, I know that life is more than heart beats and breaths- its the integrity and laughter that fills the spaces in between. I know that the season of hand washing in quarantine is just that- a season.
In 2016, I said “yes” to becoming a single parent, selling my home, and leaving my career- starting a new life as letting go made losing more bearable. In its place, I gained more love and optimism than what could fit in our tiny apartment. When your bank account is less than overflowing, it becomes imperative to have your heart overflow in an abundance of hope and happiness. A smile does not cost a thing, and finding helpers is always free. Focus on external joys shifts as focus on internal peace becomes a necessity.
In 2018, Charlie and I said “yes” to a country adventure when we left our fourth home to embrace a Huckelberry sort of happiness. Through change, we gained humility and closeness to family and new friends. Faith and perseverance can accompany the loss of stability. A person’s path is decided based on the attitude adopted and the mindset that is cultivated in the midst of adversity and change. There may be tears and setbacks. There may even be a moment (or two) of lost self when plans crumble and the future is uncertain. However, in struggle, we find a strength that we never could have otherwise possessed. In trusting God, we let Him guide our steps, and plans become less relevant as faith takes first place.
In 2019, I said “yes” to falling in love, and by doing so, accepted a gift from God in the form of my soulmate. When I opened myself and my son to our perfect person, I let go of fearing dependency and loss. I said “yes” to loving wholeheartedly and embracing it in return. And my new partner? He said yes to bike riding lessons and tickle tackles as he took on the role of instant and incredible dad. It always works this way. There are seasons of choosing happiness, and then there are seasons of embracing happiness as it becomes effortless and chooses you too.
In 2020, we all said yes to navigating life as we never knew it before. Facing a global pandemic in a time of social distancing is our time to slow down, play an extra round of Candy Land, build forts, and thank God for each moment of health (and also for each square of toilet paper..)
Andrew will become Charlie’s stepdad on July 20th. We will say “yes” to becoming a trio of triumph as we bravely and happily plan a day that focuses on us and the moments that matter most. I am feeling beyond blessed and refuse to let anything on the outside take away the light that shines from within. Together, we are a blended family, one that was forged out of resiliency and unconditional love. We will adapt and grow together as we learn from experience and say “yes” to putting faith and family first. We are all going to let our lights shine and become a beacon of hope for one another.
One day, this virus will be contained. When it is, I hope for everyone, life does not go back to the way it was before. Instead, I hope we remember to value time over money, faith over fear, and a sense of community over self preservation. Our times of illness and loss are a perfect platform for sacrifice and hope.
I hope we all look back on this time and smile because we fell down, dusted ourselves off, got back up, lost, laughed, and learned. I hope we remember that when life asked, “Are you brave? Can you love yourself and your neighbors? Will you show empathy and kindness? Do you trust in a plan greater than your own?” We know with confidence and pride that we looked at life, and we said “yes.”
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
“Be strong, and let your heart be courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24