when all else failed.

HELLO, 2021! You are so very welcome here, even if I’m 100% not sure that you’ll be much different from 2020 – a girl can dream, right? What a year, y’all.

I know I’ve been absent from here, and I honestly think it’s because I really haven’t had the words. Whenever I don’t have much to write, it is a tell-tale sign that my faith is struggling. Just like any year, 2020 had its mix of good and bad, but the backdrop of COVID-19 in it all was the enormous elephant in the room that added insult to injury at every turn.

In the Paschal house, we actually moved for the second time in just over a year (and third time in 2 years, phew!) and found out we were expecting a second baby girl! These two milestones will always be the bright spot of an otherwise very tough year, filled with a lot of anxiety and underlying emotions that always bubbled up in the most unexpected ways.

As I was thinking through my Bible reading plan for 2021, I took a look back at my blog post that I wrote a year ago on the importance of reading our Bible. I think it’s only fair that I admit here that I did not tackle my plan for this year in the way I originally intended, and probably made it through 25-50% of the readings throughout this year. For as non-stop as my pre-pandemic routine felt, there was a steady drumbeat of getting up early and reading my Bible that completely fell off the agenda as our routines were turned upside down with the pandemic. We’ve been fortunate enough to get back to a reasonable pace of life now that we have childcare for Harper again, but I’ll just be completely honest – when I was staying at home and locked in my house, or trying to keep food down and becoming one with my couch during my first trimester, I was not just absent-minded about reading my Bible – I was actively choosing not to, or to read a tiny sliver of Scripture just to check the box. I didn’t “forget” about that part of my routine, it just wasn’t a priority compared to what I really felt I needed at the time (i.e. sleep, comfort, etc.)

I say that to point out that I think so many of us find ourselves pretty comfortable with that conclusion when it comes to our faith: we love God and believe in what He has done for us, but wow, life is genuinely busy and tough right now, and reading the Word + praying just isn’t going to make the cut. There is so much to be said on this topic and some good, solid truth that we should be speaking to one another that combats this, but I’m actually not going to go down that road with you today. Because today, I look back on 2020 and see that, maybe more clearly than I ever have before, it is Christ and Christ alone that carries me in my faith.

For all that 2020 was not in terms of my spiritual discipline and outpouring of love and obedience for what God has called me to, the small, flickering flame that continues to burn in my heart is all the Lord’s doing. Sometimes, all I could pray was that the Lord would not allow me to be plucked from His hand. To not let me go, even when I felt I couldn’t act in the way we are called to as followers of Jesus. He graciously answered that prayer for me, and the more I have reflected on that immense blessing, I am reminded that it is only because of Jesus’ death on a cross that I can remain in relationship with God, even when I don’t walk the walk. Jesus has stood in the gap between my sin and God’s holiness, allowing God to look at me and see Jesus’ record of life lived perfectly, so that I may experience full relationship with the Lord. It’s chilling, and it’s all the more real when I can very clearly see that my thoughts and actions have not had the level of obedience I know I’m called to as a follower of Jesus. But He died for me anyway.

If you are in the same boat, whether it’s in relation to this year, this week, or maybe even your whole life, I hope you can take refuge in the fact that God desires relationship with us, and He truly does hold us closely – we cannot get to Him on our own. We must be carried, and He has graciously shown me in this season what it looks like to be carried. The beauty of the Christian life is that it’s in the seemingly darkest moments that God is often doing His greatest work. That is no more evident than when Jesus took His last breath and the world turned dark, and it felt like despair had washed over everything. But in that moment, a Savior had come and paid the price for us. He would rise again, and we would have life eternal. 2020 was dark for a lot of us, but it did not surprise God. And if we can harness what we’ve gathered – the good and the bad – I firmly believe that no matter what may come in 2021, *even if* it’s more of this 2020 mess, we will come out the other side with a better understanding of God’s love for us. While it’s hard to see in the small moments, I know that’s all I can truly live and hope for in this life, and I pray the same for you. I really do.

Nothing else could really hold me this year – all of those idols I’ve used to prop me up in the past suddenly proved fickle when this year came around. But God? His promises continued to abound. And they will forever. Let’s take this hope into 2021, friends. We’ll be better for it.

Until next time (and I’ll try to make it sooner than 8 months from now!),

Jordan

My favorite parts of 2020 and every year to come. <3

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