As I sit here on Thanksgiving 2021, a year and half into the pandemic, I can’t help but be thankful for this scourge that has rocked our world for the past 18 months. I know that many of us recognize that the pandemic has brought some good into our world, yet finding the good in the dark cloud has not always been easy. This all changed for me, though, in an unexpected way this past week. On Sunday, November 14, we lost my father-in-law, Big O as he’s fondly referred to by his family, which has left a huge hole in our family. The morning after learning of his passing was filled with tears and sadness over the loss of this special man, but I also experienced another surprising feeling – gratitude!
You see, the pandemic created a new normal for my husband and I. That new normal was to take a weekly trip to visit his parents to check on them, buy groceries, and just spend time. Since they couldn’t leave due to their age and health situation, they required some attention. The trip typically took several hours a week between the 2 to 3 hour drive time and the visit, but the time spent with them was precious and worth it all. You really get to know people when you just sit with them consistently and regularly, when you ask questions and you listen, when you buy food and learn their routine. As I grieve the loss of this dear man, I am SO THANKFUL for the time that I got to spend with him and can truly see the silver lining in this dark cloud that has hung over the world. The pandemic “forced” us to change our schedule and be present and oh am I so grateful!
As I ponder what this year and half has meant, I recognize that I am a different person because of these weekly visits. What I learned through this experience is that there are no shortcuts to building relationships. It takes time, it takes sacrifice, it takes blood sweat and tears even sometimes, but the rewards from this type of consistent investment, cannot be overstated. In many ways, we were “doing life” with them much like a small group experience. We would share stories, jokes, prayer requests, and what the Lord was teaching us. With each visit, my fondness and connection to them grew and this was due to the regularity of our time together. In many ways, each week was an adventure because there were new stories to hear, new conversations to enjoy and new things to learn. Over and over again nuggets of wisdom came my way as I listened to their advice and watched the intentional way that they lived. I am not the same person I was a year and a half ago because these weekly visits refined me and helped define for me what matters most in life: Loving and being loved. While I always loved them, doing life with them deepened my admiration and filled my soul with something beautiful and the lessons learned are truly priceless.
It’s still difficult to call the pandemic a blessing, but if it hadn’t happened, I would not have made the weekly visits, and I would have missed so so much! My prayer for all those who are reading is to not miss the opportunities that come your way this holiday season and every season! Don’t underestimate the power of community. Listen to the stories, spend time focusing on people not things, and BE THANKFUL no matter what the circumstance!!
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:18)
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