‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”
I started this blog more than two weeks ago. Then 2021 came roaring in with as much or more challenge as the year left behind – and frankly – I did not have the heart to finish this. But I would be remiss if I didn’t as I asked several dear ones to share their learnings from the year past as well. And so here we go – I hope you find something to resonate on in these thoughts, appreciations and learnings.
In our family we have a saying, Famiglia Prima, which means Family Comes First. This year has taught me that family, now even more, includes my one human Family. It is a given that my nuclear family are the recipients of my whole heart. But 2020 was so rife with polarized community – among strangers, friends, work colleagues and family. I have never been so challenged to look for something I could love (or even like) in some of the people I interact with. So I have been reminded time and again by my conscience to really try to stop. LISTEN and love others without judgement. Find patience. And count the blessings – daily – that I have been afforded.
When raising our children, my husband and I frequently reminded our younglings that God sees the heart of man, not the outward appearance. We are to look for the heart in each of us, and find our commonality there – God created human beings – not titles, labels and certainly not political entities.
And so the lesson of 2020 continues – to give grace, mercy and find a way to love others (even the seemingly unloveable). Grace is something God gives us, not because we have earned it, nor even deserve it, but because even in our worst moments, He can find something to love about us – He looks for it in each of us – and His Son, Jesus exemplified that goal by going to the cross for us all. So as we all wish to be the recipients of grace, love and mercy how can we – who have been forgiven much – not afford the same to others? Easy to say, not easy to do. But we are called to do so. And it seems others are learning the same lesson.
From a college student: I became an adult and grew up a lot during this. And appreciate the opportunities I was afforded in spite of the pandemic. Got a job. A research position and spent a lot more time with my family which gave me better perspective. I learned to not be caught up in the moment, and to be thankful for all of it and for friends, family and the “stranger next door.” It’s been good and bad. But I am growing, learning, and becoming whole and learning that it isn’t really just about me…
From a dear friend: I have lost two family members in 2020 (not due to Covid). And these passings have reminded me – that Life is short … treat it (and others) with honor and know that you really do make a difference— so make that difference be a positive one. Find joy in the everydayness of life…. be thankful- appreciate people outwardly and inwardly.
Family ( definition)Perfectly imperfect people who love your imperfections into positive pieces of powerful potential.
From a recent college graduate: I would say 2020 taught me patience, awareness and an open mind. As crazy as 2020 was I feel like I grew a lot mentally. I learned to be patient in my expectations of others and myself. Awareness has taught me to get out of my own bubble and be more in-tune to the ways of the world. And an open mind has showed me that change is ok and even though it’s not the way I am used to, it can still be a way that I can adapt and learn from. Breaking free from my expectations is healthy and adapting can give a new light for me.
From a sweet lady: I’ve always had a small core of friends and neighbors that I’ve spoken with over the years. And there has always been the people that you don’t know their names but recognize. I think I am pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of strangers walking thru my neighborhood. They stopped and chatted across the fence, asked me about my gardens, my dogs, introduced themselves and their kids and dogs. We are all longing for that connection, new and old faces and my neighborhood became one similar to my childhood small town. People talked across fences, from front porches, stopped while walking their dogs or taking their kids to our park. Everyone was invested in one another, asking about each other’s health and listening to the answers. People got out in their yards, played badminton, pick-up basketball, sat out with their kids and dogs. I got closer to my small little habitat even while “distancing” than I’ve been in years, if ever and in that, was reminded of the value of community, near and far.
From a young unemployed woman: Gratitude can foster a lot of joy, I have learned to “let go” of control – with grace. Also the simple things are the best things and new, renewed, and good friendships are wonderful and can carry each day. Stop and be thankful. Make your daily thanks list.
From a healthcare worker: 2020 taught me to be grateful. For the small things. For the big things. And even the bad things, because in the bad I was taught to look for the good.
From a sibling: 2020 was a continuation of several years of challenges. In that, I have been learning. Keep believing, keep giving, keep praying, keep studying….Wait on God… Expect a Miracle!
I like that last point, wait in expectation. God is still on His throne. None of this tribulation is a surprise. So we need to wait and see what He is a doing. And stop to remember that many are scared, stressed, worried and under financial duress. Worldwide. We have lost so much. But in the midst of it all – we have also gained. A heart. Because we all – now matter our title- are in the same Human Family.
So we have been reminded of the importance of family, neighbors and community…and in that, I have remembered the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke Chapter 10. Jesus advised us what a neighbour really is. Not someone you just live next to. But someone who needs grace, love and mercy.
Luke 10:27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighborto the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
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