I don’t think I’ll ever forget the date… March 15, 2020. This date is a marker in my life. A marker of a new reality… the reality of how life may never be as it once was. It’s the day everything in my world shifted. It’s the day that our governor, here in Iowa, signed a proclamation regarding this strange-named virus, and our state closed down. Just one year ago.

How One Year Can Make A Big Difference
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What a difference one year can make.

Without a doubt, the past 365 days made up the most transformative year of my life. Maybe you can relate. It’s possible we learned more in this last year than we did in the last five! Especially about ourselves and how we are so very connected to one another. For some of us, we turned to our faith. Certainly I spent more time in prayer and reading my Bible, and my relationship with my Lord grew immensely. I’ve always had my faith, but God used this year to grow it into something real, authentic, and very much alive.

We were catapulted out of our comfort zones without warning. I remember that feeling well, because I’m pretty fond of my comfort zone. Aren’t we all?

The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure. You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Roy T. Bennett

I think it’s safe to say our comfort zones are much larger today than they were one year ago.

We learned new words that became part of our everyday vocabulary like pandemic, COVID-19, social distancing, face masks, and quarantining. You and I were forced to find new ways of doing things we’d always done like working, connecting, communicating, and just plain living. We never expected to see empty toilet paper shelves at our stores, nor did we ever think we’d receive instructions on how to make our own face masks and how to wipe down our groceries.

Some of us used the last 365 days to try new things or begin a new hobby. We needed to keep our hands and minds engaged on something positive. Yet, for some of us, making it through the next hour took everything within us. Some of us were considered “essential,” and that term took on an entirely new reality. We saw things we didn’t want to see and experienced situations we never signed up to experience. And quite possibly, only you and God know what those are.

Yes, the challenges were greater than we expected.

Oodles of us were isolated, away from family and friends. That’s when we learned very quickly the value of connection and community in their absence. We learned we are better together. So, we did what we could to make a difference as we isolated and quarantined. We checked on neighbors, sent cards to friends, and started family Zoom gatherings. Who heard of Zoom before this? Now I use Zoom on (nearly) a daily basis. I don’t believe any one of us will ever again take the people in our life for granted. I know I sure won’t.

Many of us lost much in this last year. Jobs, income, dreams, and hopes. Some of us lost loved ones or became ill with this virus, ourselves. The pain of grief and loss lingers still today. And rightly so. This virus has stolen much and it may take awhile for us to come to grips with it all. I pray God holds us all very close as He continues to bring healing and wholeness into our lives.

Yet, God brought much good, too.

God, in His grace, was with with you and me every moment of every day of this past year. He never left us. Even if there were times it felt as if He did. He was always there. He brought the simple things in life back into focus. For some of us our pace slowed, and for others, He gave us opportunities to serve Him in a greater capacity. He blessed us with many simple joys such as breathtaking sunrises, the beauty of a flower bouquet, the warm hug of a child, and the miracle of a birth of a baby. God brought good from what appeared to be bad.

Friend, I know you have your own stories. Your experiences of these past 365 days are unique to you. No one experienced them like you did. So, what’s your story? What good did God bring from what appeared to be bad? Where did you struggle? Where did you find strength? What have you learned?

We have hope for our future.

If you would have asked me one year ago, I honestly thought the virus was going to last a few months. Yet, here we are, still dealing with it one year later. I know I’m not the only one who wants it gone. I pray every day for God to “rid the earth of this virus.” I trust He will. But, if He doesn’t, we can trust He will be with us in it. He’s proved that, over and over again. Especially through the last year. Consequently, I cling to the verse in Zephaniah.

The Lord your God wins victory after victory and is always with you. He celebrates and sings because of you, and he will refresh your life with his love.”

Zephaniah 3:17 CEV

Lord, refresh our lives with Your love. Thank You for Your never-ending presence in our lives.

So, even though my life is different than a year ago, and it may never return to what it once was, I’m okay with that. Because no matter what’s ahead, I can trust that will be God’s best for me… and for you.

Thanks for being here friend. I’m glad I get to journey through this life with you!

Much love,

How One Year Can Make A Big Difference

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