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Watermarks:2020

Holy moly. What a year. There is so much to say and also zero of the right words to say it. My word coming into 2020 was “Dwell”.

I have major side eye for that. Really? Dwell? A little on the nose, don’t ya think?

Well, dwell I did. In my house, like the rest of the world. And lots of the fluff of life was stripped away. It was super uncomofortable and unfun. And the stripping away of comforts, false or otherwise, will continue to be a less than enjoyable experience.

I’m not here to tell you that 2021 will somehow mean all is well. Vaccine or not, the pandemic is still happening. All the votes are in and yet, the election is still unsettled. The protests have quieted a bit but Black bodies are still piling up because of a system that is set up for their failure.

So, a New Year’s Even countdown changes very little. No more than any sunrise. However, it does give us a grand opportunity to reflect and dream. I created some graphics to help you do just that. They are formatted to be instagram stories, but work just as well as tools to simple help you process. Enjoy! I’d love to hear your reflections.

Just for the sake of historical recording, here are some happenings in 2020 that boiled their way down to learning to dwell more than decorate this life with all the clutter.

Corona Virus stopped the world and we retreated, reluctantly to our caves. And the life of teaching middle schoolers became an entirely new adventure.

-The foundational white supremacy of this nation became impossible to ignore, though many still choose to walk about with their eyes tightly locked shut.

-Churches fell apart. Seemingly because of the pandemic and political divide. I’d argue it may possibly because God is inviting us to be a bit more creative and intentional in being The Church. But, hey, maybe I’m wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.

The election. I cannot be nice about this one so I’ll just leave it at this: democracy is important and undeniably, deeply flawed.

There is infinitely more we could each add to this list. The personal battles of depression, divorce, death of loved ones and dreams… There is no end to the list of difficulties that 2020 gifted us. And true, there is no end to the goodness of God. But one does not cancel out the other. You can believe God is good and let a few choice words fly from your mouth about the wounds that were caused or unearthed by this last year. You can dwell, in stripped down honesty, with the King of your faith. You do not have to decorate the halls of your life with pretty words of a utopian facade in order to live this life well.

Just for a Smile

We are all go a little stir crazy, are we not? What better time to employ some creativity and share some joy? (Listen, creativity comes in spurts so if you fill tapped out, that’s cool. You do not have to produce anything in this season, but when it comes, let it overflow…like a toilet clogged with an abundance of toilet paper. Remember the days of abundant toilet paper?)

Framework:2020

I have no great or overplayed 2020 chliches for you. We are far too deep into the year to still be leaning into the 20/20 vision or Barbara Walters references. However, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to set the framework for this year. It is a practice that has proven to be an immense help in shaping my mind and heart moving into a new year.

The last two years have proven to be a bit unsettling. Many of the places where my faith and confidence in Christ were shallow, like wood-grain veneer on a particle board table. That veneer was peeled back and the reality of those shallow places was exposed. It is far from a comfortable process, but nonetheless, it is a purposeful and good surgery. It leads to life if we will endure it.

2020 came barrelling in like nurses running a gurney through the emergency room doors. Apparently, another surgery was required.

Do you know what is true after surgery? Nothing can be the same as before. Well, that’s not quite true. A person could choose to return to all their old habits, but they are also likely to find themselves back on the operating table if they do. No, a doctor would advise making changes. Build new habits. Give yourself the opportunity to live a better life.

That is what I intend for 2020. It is an odd combination of risking and rest. Making decisions and releasing outcomes. At first, I thought my word for 2020 was meant to be “rest”, but it wouldn’t settle into the space. It felt as though I was trying to use my car fob to unlock my house. (Don’t pretend you haven’t ever done that.) It was close; it had the same purpose but wasn’t meant for that spot. As I waited and prayed, “rest” shook out to become “dwell”.  Dwell incudes rest but it isn’t apart from action, not always. We can dwell while we work and move. It is knowing I am at home, even when I have things to accomplish. It is knowing where I belong, even when I’m on a mission beyond the doors of my home. It is trusting that even when the world around me is at war and I’m tempted to be sucked into the chaos and confusion, I am at peace because I have a place to dwell. I dwell in the presence and promises of God even when the earth shakes.

And that truth led me to my 2020 verse.

He released his supernatural peace to you through the sacrifice of his own body as the sin-payment on your behalf so that you would dwell in his presence. And now there is nothing between you and Father God, for he sees you as holy, flawless, and restored…

Colossians 1:22 (The Passion Translation)

In Him, you and I are whole. We don’t have to flail around when our identies and securites are under attack. He has declared us whole. He has made us holy. All the broken places in us, they are restored in Christ. So when someone doesn’t understand us, we can dwell in his presence and trust the wholeness he has brought to us. When the people we love hurt us, we can stand in victory over the lies that threaten to dig in deeper and believe that we are restored.

I am choosing to live here in 2020, to live in His presence, to believe his promise and power. I pray the same for you. Regardless of what has been done to you or by you, spoken over you or out of you, trust the bedrock of Christ, navigate the borderlands with confidence. Dwell.