Like so many others this time last year, I really hoped 2021 would usher in a more normal and all-around better year, like those pre-2020.
Right before the Covid-19 pandemic began, a driving thought permeated my heart: don’t waste this season. When the pandemic broke out in 2020, I realized how much the four-word challenge would drive so much of my actions. I really wanted to come out of the pandemic having not wasted the opportunity to grow: as a person, in my marriage, move towards accomplishing goals our family has, and be present for others around me that need help.
Don’t Waste This Season: Show up
In each month of this year, it seemed my family was dealing with another real-life issue (sometimes multiple): health, job changes, my only child starting preschool for the first time (in a pandemic), moving, family members being hospitalized… and with each turn of events I tried my hardest to think how I could continue to not waste this season. At first (well really many times) I felt like I was failing. How can I make the most out of this season when everything keeps changing – and changing fast? How can I be present emotionally and physically for others when I feel like my capacity is so different than it was in previous seasons?!
What this challenge reminded me of was that I was not supposed to have everything just right and wrapped up in a pretty bow before helping others. I was supposed to show up: raw, real, and often. Showing up is the hardest part of it all. My family and my community most desire my presence, not my perfect presents. One main way to not waste and to see each season for the blessings it holds is to show up.
Don’t Waste This Season: Set an extra seat at the table.
2021 continued to bring me back to the basics.
My journey through 2021 showed me there are some things that hold a much larger part of my heart and the extra things in life at the end of the day – don’t.
Here are some of the top things I am so truly thankful for. As you read the list, think of how these may have played a role in your life in 2021.
- Freedom: we are a beautiful country that is very divided on many topics. We have a long way to go but there is still no other country I’d rather call home
- Access to basics that most of the world does not have: clean water, medicine and health providers, access to food, electricity, and a home
- Extended family
- Community: friends (and framily!)
- The ocean
- The ability to call South Florida home for so many years
Many people in the world do not have many of the items listed above. Putting this list in perspective helps us to understand the weight of how blessed we are. This blessing gives us also the responsibility to use our God-given gifts and our resources to bless others. A great way to bless someone is to have them over for a meal. Set an extra place at your table this holiday season and bless someone with your time and resources. Times spent around the table tend to hold the greatest memories.
Bonus activity: leave a seat always open at your table and share with your child(ren) that that seat is for you as a family to consistently think of who you could invite over. This is a great way to teach our children how to honor people, give, and care for those in our neighborhoods and community.
Don’t Waste This Season: Parenting through the extraordinary
Let those words really sink in. You parented through a pandemic and you are still having to parent much differently than maybe even a couple years ago, and definitely different than your own mother and father did.
The bible says that “children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” We were blessed with our child(ren) and we were chosen for them! Parenting is a large responsibility, no doubt. You are showing up every day for your child(ren). You are front and center to lead and love your blessing!
As we learned how to more fully live life again, guiding littles and not-so-littles during this past year, we overcame so much. It may be hard to calculate because most of it was a heavier emotional and mental load that you carried. We know as moms that the heavy load for moms is often the weight of all the planning and unknowns. Fellow mama, you really should be so proud of yourself for what you overcame in 2021.
Don’t waste this season
I realized that my four-word challenge wasn’t given to me just for the pandemic, but rather to remember that each year goes by so quickly. I want to continue to think back on each season and be able to say I experienced it fully and gave it my best. In that, I believe I will more fully see all the blessings (big and small) in next year.
I challenge you to look ahead to next year with anticipation and excitement that no matter what 2022 brings, you will not waste it!