I think it's safe to say we've all dealt with some crap this year.
There's the everyday stuff - the worldwide pandemic, the projected nationwide division, the shouting and opinions and uncertainty and panic.
Then there's the personal stuff. The things that we feel so deeply that we are unsure if we will ever be quite right again. I'm talking about the deaths of our loved ones that leave us feeling stunned, paralyzed. I'm talking about weeks spent in quarantine with small children who cried out in the night, with us fumbling in the dark to offer them kisses and broken songs. I'm talking about lying awake in our beds and begging God to have mercy and just heal our people already. I'm talking about the things that we fervently hoped for that did not happen, the ongoing discouragement that comes from living in survival mode for what feels like an eternity.
We are all different; naturally our stories and our hurt follow suit. But when I look into the eyes of my colleagues and I sit with my friends and I talk with my family, I can feel it. A collective weariness from the battle, and an itchiness for something to change.
For a long time now, many of us have put the things that make us feel alive aside. We've said to our ever-simmering souls, Remember when? and Someday I'll do that again... and I wish... and I miss...
But after grief, after trials, there comes a point where we have to find some courage within ourselves. When we have to decide that survival mode is a season that served us, but that it's no way to live forever. If we choose to engage in constant battle, we will become hard and apathetic and our spirits will be as good as dead.
There does, in fact, come a time when it's no longer necessary to tamp down our desires and our hobbies and our simple pleasures and our whimsies. And I think that time is now.
Gosh, it's scary, isn't it? To say that we decide not to be hard anymore, to remove our armors we've built up and set them aside so we can breathe again, with just our soft bodies exposed to any possible attack? The assaults have been many the last few years, how can we be sure there won't be more? We don't want to risk being the unsuspecting fool. We don't want another punch in the gut.
I don't know what the next year will bring. But I know I can't live another moment believing the lie that softness is weakness or that joy is a joke. Something within me rejects that; it kicks and yells and refuses to go down with this old, dying world.
So, will this world sucker punch me when my guard is down? Maybe. But I'll tell you what I'm going to do anyway:
I'm going to tuck my armor in the closet and step back into the world, a soft and hopeful creature looking for any shred of grandeur and wonder and extravagance that is still to be found.