Coulda shoulda woulda and an ambulance ride
I welcomed the new year at my son's bedside, cleaning up partially digested spaghetti. It definitely goes down in history as one of the worst ways to end a year.
But as I pondered my life over Lysol and bleach at 2 am, I broached the question. If I could live 2020 over again, would I live it differently?
I would have hid the sharpies better.
I wouldn't have kept the jug of oil next to the jug of apple juice in the pantry.
I could have avoided all confrontation on social media. I've never seen a bridge built, only wedges driven.
I could have written private notes to check in with more friends and family. Long form writing affects lives, even as short quips and triads can only affect emotions. Letters and tweets have no commonality beyond sharing the alphabet.
I should have done more projects with the kids. We had the time. And no one to drop in to see the mess.
I should have painted the porch.
I should have been more gentle with my public opinions, and stronger with my private prayers.
But there's a lot I don't regret.
I discovered audio books. Total win.
I made exercise, both mental and physical, more of a priority. Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks.
I trusted my teenagers with more responsibility. They can watch siblings, clean, and cook with fair acuity.
I read through the Bible in a year. Granted, this isn't the first annual journey through Scripture, but it's becoming a habit I looked forward to every morning.
I taught writing to children who were not my own. They've been gracious with my learning curve, and I love seeing them forming thoughts into coherent - and effective - narrative.
I took a class myself and started copywriting. I'm still in awe that I can make a job of finding words for people's businesses!
Nonetheless, a lot happened this year that made me frustrated. Angry, even. Why don't other people see things the way I do?
And why doesn't God?
Why does He allow people to justify abortion or euthanasia? Why do child molesters roam free while churchgoers face imprisonment? Why does the rain fall on the just and the unjust?
Why has He allowed my little son to suffer from both Lyme disease and Spina Bifida? Wasn't it enough, Lord, that You made him be born to never walk? To endure brain surgeries? Why, instead of welcoming the new year, did he have to spend it upending his last meal of 2020? Why must he suffer, nearly comatose for every minute of 2021 so far, from pain in the handful of nerves he has that actually do work? Why didn't You do this to Hitler or Stalin or Charles Manson? Why this child whose most horrible sin ever was not sharing his Legos? I can't even. I don't want to even.
This question - why?
But I know.
Even as I kick against the goads, I know why God allows injustice, why things don't make sense, why innocent suffer.
He could make everyone comfortable - but He doesn’t want us to be at ease in a sin-filled world.
He would like us to be happy now - but not at the cost of spending forever without us.
He should judge all the evil, but if He did it now, every one of us would be consigned to eternity in hell.
I want more than simply comfort. I long for more than the affirmation of the strangers who might approve of my social media quips. I desire justice, goodness, and peace - but for real, not some semblance of them fashioned by governments, scientists, or dreamers. I look forward to the day my children will be completely whole.
I long for heaven. And I shouldn’t expect to find it on earth.
So 2021 has dawned uncomfortably for us.
I‘m finishing this post in the uneasy quasi-privacy of an emergency room. Ben had a seizure, and got his first ambulance ride (his younger brothers were quite jealous). I suspect he’s going to have brain surgery to fix the shunt that drains fluid from his head. I think I’m in for a long night in a stiff chair.
I may need a reminder in the days ahead that God doesn’t have regrets. He doesn’t wish for do-overs. I need to trust Him even when it’s painful.
Rather than coulda shoulda woulda, I want to say I can, I shall, I will trust Him in 2021. It’s looking to be quite a journey.