“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”Philippians 4:6
Like so many, I had big plans for 2020. I was going to release an album that was years in the making. Start a tour. Launch a ministry and small production company with my husband. Enjoy the premiere and long run of a theatrical production I’d written. It was going to be a year of rewarding busyness.
Naturally, I bought a planner, a really pretty planner with stickers, sleek font, and lots of organized sections. I even had a specific pen that was satisfying to write with for said planner. (It’s the little things.) I wrote in it a lot. I wrote concert dates and vacation dates and school schedules for the kids. Did I say I wrote in pen? Writing in pen indicates that it won’t change, and if it does, it only requires a quick, clean dash through it.
When the year began to unfold, like it did for everyone, I started drawing those lines one by one. And eventually, I stopped. Partly from hope—maybe things would change soon? Partly from discouragement—I didn’t want to look at what I was “missing” on paper. The planner, along with my expectations, sat in the drawer and saw the light of day less and less.
At first, I decided to embrace it. I had some fun activities on social media. I threw myself into homeschooling. I loved ordering groceries for the first time. My husband and I had enough down time together to actually get through a series or two (or ten).
But every once in a while, something would hit me. A shortness of breath or a tightness in my chest and I would need to get out. I’d throw on my sneakers and let the fresh air hit me like a wave while I ran down the street. Let me be clear: this was not exercise. This was escape. Escape from what? I couldn’t nail it down. Those of you reading this who are more emotionally mature than me will recognize it quickly but it took me longer than I care to admit.
I didn’t think I struggled with anxiety. I’m someone who, overall, feels in control of their emotions. I even pride myself on it. It’s an “endearing flaw.”
It took 2020 to help me realize that I wasn’t really dealing with anything, I was managing it. I was managing it with busyness and the illusion of control. I realized that I felt entitled to circumstances, opportunities and experiences. My posture toward the Lord and to this new normal had to change. Thanksgiving was the gateway to the peace that was available to me in Jesus. I asked the Lord to help me shift.
I pulled the planner back out recently and was pleased to find that I didn’t look at the dates with (as much) disappointment or frustration, but with peace. I even wrote in new events that had taken place. My boy’s first and last day of homeschool. My son’s lost tooth. The first snowfall. The day we got our dog. Hiking days. Ice cream days.
It wasn’t the whirlwind year I had in mind, but I’m thankful for His plan. It was—and is always—more rewarding.
Creator of Seen Collective and Worship Leader for HeartStrong Faith
Kristen currently lives in Lancaster, PA with her husband, Ben, and two little boys. She is busy working as a full time writer and director for Sight and Sound Theaters. She is also a freelance writer and continues to sing, act, write, and direct for theaters around the country. Kristen is thankful to the Lord for all of the gifts he has given. She intends to proclaim His heart to the world through them.