Out with a bang!

As 2020 comes to an end, at least for me, it is going out with a bang! We’ve shouldered together a year of challenges ranging from the quite personal to global. As we’ve processed together we’ve marveled at the universality of our experiences, be they history repeating itself or personal health or financial struggles of ourselves or loved ones. When we are in the thick of it these situations feel like they’re only happening to us. So like Job. Why me, Lord? In fact, adversity is the human condition. We are not in Olam Haba.

Over the year we’ve reflected that our personal perspectives and perceptions, molded by genetics and life experiences, define the perceived quality of our lives. People can have the same life events and yet feel completely differently about their situations. Definitionally rich people can feel they don’t have enough money while those with very little financial wealth can feel the richest. We can bemoan our health when a bit under the weather and at other times be grateful we can move at all. We can look at this year as the worst times ever only to read of previous civilizations and generations who objectively had less and suffered more.

Surely COVID has been a game changer. So many lives lost. Unfathomable. Impossible to emotionally absorb if thought of from the perspective of each lost life’s precious place on this earth. So important we do not just become numbed by the number, as we push ourselves to remember such horror on an individual level. Each loss is the same pain experienced by those who have lost a loved one, one by one, of any time, of any generation.

Equal to if not surpassing these times of struggle, however, were and are the good, no, actually the great times. They are the reality that not just balance out the difficulties in our lives and the passing of loved ones, but also, protect us from the vulnerable chinks in our armor – the places of sickness, fear, worry, anxiety, uncertainty. Being reminded of, clinging to, seeking, seeing the positive, remaining hopeful despite adversity, searching for HaShem, walking with Him, mold us into people who can stay encouraged even in the darkest of times, as we take with us the lessons of the past to shape our more thoughtful decisions of the future.

I really suffered the one/two punch this week, not the least of which was learning my son, his wife, and my two year old grandbaby have COVID. Thankfully, I don’t think their cases are severe yet prayer is needed. The week has been extraordinarily difficult on the work front too, not to mention RV repairs in the thousands. The list goes on. It really has felt like the evil one just wanted to finish up this year with a bang!!

All the more reason to rejoice! Not at the adversity, but rather, at the trajectory, and truths, of life. And I’m having to work at it. I wasn’t even planning to write a Shabbat encouragement this week. Just didn’t have it in me, when my sister reminded me that just as an arrow is shot from a bow, so too, when we are pulled back we are launched forward. So the further back the arrow is drawn, the tighter the tension, the more difficult the stretch, the further forward we are propelled to a place far from the tension, perhaps right on the bullseye. In any case, just as the arrow, we are thrust into the future, to a place right on target, or at least one with endless possibilities to leave behind that which held us back, with faith that tomorrow will be a better day.

As we enter 2021, I encourage you to leave behind the worries and thoughts that shackled you to a place of fear, and instead may you fly with abandon into a new year with literally boundless opportunities, moving closer to the bullseye of a world view centered on Him.

Shabbat shalom and Happy New Year!

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