Updated: Mar 1
This season, in 2020, has taken its toll. It is difficult to believe that anyone over 10 years old in the year 2020 will have to clarify - "what season do you mean?"
You know, THE season.
THE season when the world went off its tracks - when people went nuts - when a virus seemed to take over - when offices teeming with workers emptied out & hospitals filled up - when church doors were shut - when we could feel alone in a house full of people who share our last name.
THE season began the week following spring break; when the finish line was in sight...sunny days filled with friends, pool parties and sleeping late were all on tap, signaling a respite for many of us, until....
As word of the virus began to spread, our families were forced to 'shut down' for a couple of weeks. A couple of weeks? I totally GOT THIS! Then weeks turned into months and it continues - we have almost completed week 24 of this craziness. Over this period of time, I have witnessed unspeakable tragedies, violence, anger, fear and weariness. I have personally experienced some of those myself, in addition to tremendous displays of God's power and greatness.
Easter day has come and gone during THE season. I love the week leading up to Easter because it always brings under control, (albeit way too temporarily), my vain imagination and renews my love for Christ. Reading of His tireless work at illuminating truth amongst believers and non-believers, His patience with those who just couldn't understand what He was saying although they wanted to and His resolve to finish the mission....HIS season.
"When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go Jerusalem" - Luke 9:51 (ESV) ~ He set his face. The unbelievable determination and unshakable resolve to press on.
Of course there is no 'apples to apples' comparison to be made here. However, I do want to draw encouragement from the example of Christ, who could have changed his set of circumstances in the blink of an eye, but chose not to. He plowed on towards what awaited him. Those words... "set his face"... roll around in my head often. A resolve to follow through on hard stuff. To press forward when everything in you wants to stay put. When emotion is not allowed to override determination. Can you remember that time(s) when you had to decide: turn around and give in or just keep on moving forward?
My first round of chemo was in November of 2018. When White Coat said "you have cancer", I was faced with a 'give in' or 'set your face' moment. It all seemed surreal until my hair began falling out. Then it became real. Real fast.
A friend snapped a picture as I was getting my hair shaved off, and I recognize that 'set your face' kind of look. Fist clinched, jaw set, eyes focused - devastated by what was to come, yet resolved to not let it take my spirit. Surrounded by my God given friends, I stood up straight and kept moving on.
As I remember my own "set your face" moment, led by Christs example, I wanted to extend those words as an encouragement to you...
Those of you I have watched over the last five months walking through THIS season AND then you were handed THAT season too. I'd like to encourage those whose journeys give me pause and make me think. I ponder the example of Christ during THIS season and want you to know the way you have pushed forward has encouraged me.
To my single mom friends. I see you plug into things every week that are not required to do (Bible studies and community groups), but in order to feed your soul, you make time for it. I watch you and consider the hats you must wear; of both mom and dad, wage earner, grocery shopper, chef (7 days a week), counselor, chauffeur, disciplinarian, comedian, life coach, accountant, referee, protector, defender of the kids and many other roles - all cast by you......you inspire me! You make me want to be a better woman and mom. You make me push myself to do things more completely and gripe less. You are seen. You are loved. You are teaching more of us than you know. THIS season may not be the easiest, but your calling is worthy and worth doing well. SET YOUR FACE!!
To the ladies I have had the honor to walk alongside as you battle the enemy of cancer during THIS season. Do you know how much I hate cancer along with you? I despise everything about it. I have felt immensely honored that you have allowed me to peer into your heart and mind. When I speak with you, I envision a soldier strapping on a bullet proof vest, helmet and boots - getting ready for all out war. Sometimes you have stepped off the battlefield, wounded and weary, but you always get back up to fight another wave. ~ Thank you for allowing me to ask stupid and obvious questions; for letting me be shocked with you, laugh with you, cry with you, pray with you and sit in silence with you. If you could feel the admiration I have for your strength and vulnerability, you would never question if you'd gone too far, or if you should have faked the smile, so I wouldn't have to feel the pain with you. I love your pursuit of God in this tough place; raw and honest. I have learned so much from watching you walk through THIS season. I pray that you will continue to SET YOUR FACE!!
To you who have suffered loss...unimaginable loss of a child. I can't even allow myself to imagine walking in your shoes for too long, because if I do my eyes well with tears and my spirit feels a weight that I can hardly bear. All along, I know this is your reality. Every morning, it's your first thought and every night the last one that passes through your awake mind. I wish I were as strong as I believe you to be, but I realize that strength did not come without tremendous cost. I have learned from you that it is better to be vulnerable than fake. I find your times of rawness tough, but your tear stained face more attractive than a dozen super models. You attract others who are walking their own impossible path and want to know how you do it. "How do I get through another day, when this one was much too hard?" How can you laugh and cry all at once and say with your heart and mouth - "I want to pursue God"? I am in awe of you. I pray also that you will continue to SET YOUR FACE!!
To you with kids that break your heart. They've chosen to walk a different path than the one you started them on. I see you continue to bend your knee, asking for God's intervention. I watch you love fiercely, pursue tirelessly and engage even when your efforts are rejected. I admire your tenacity. I have learned by watching you, how to love well even when that child hurts you so deeply. Your example has shown me how to love others better. ~ To you ladies that I watch raise your incredible families under such strenuous circumstances. Thank you for letting me pick your brain on child rearing and ask, what may seem like, basic questions. I ask, because I watch you and you make me want to strive harder and engage in what really matters. To all you ladies who I watch with such admiration, continue to SET YOUR FACE!!
Admittedly, I have more stories of lives that have impacted me during THIS season, over the last five months of staying apart, than I have room to write. I thought lessons learned would be at an all time low during THIS season. I was way off.
I heard a quote once that said "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear".
The word of God is a teacher, always ready to instruct, in season and out.
Now...get up!! Dust yourself off and SET YOUR FACE!!