Friday, January 1, 2021

Altogether Beautiful

By Bethany Davies Whitaker


The year that everyone will tell their future children about and remember for generations, or maybe it’s the year we all just want to forget. I remember being so excited about this year last December. A new decade! A fresh start! Not to mention, we were going back into the ‘20s again, so I was looking forward to throwing a fancy Great Gatsby party at some point. The first two months went seemingly well, right? Only the occasional bump in our news feeds.

Then, March hit, and it seemed as though the entire world seemingly came crashing down at the same time. Personally, the first week or two, I just tried to ignore everything. In a fight or flight situation, I will 99.9% of the time go with flight. But, after a few weeks and the realization that things weren’t changing or getting better, the fear and anxiety set in. To combat it, I started looking for positivity and light anywhere I could find it. One of my very first posts about how I was feeling was to tell others to check on their people and to be a helper. This became even more important as this year dragged on and everyone was separated by distance. This became the first lesson in a year that forced us to slow down. I have the tendency to rush through life and to be on my phone too much. But, this year taught me that the most important things in my life are my connections with those I love, and that even if someone seems to be doing well, still check on them. You never know what’s going on in their life.

In the middle of March, I wrote, ‘Even when the world around us is falling apart, we can still be a light to those around us. We can still give a little joy and hope when there seems to be none. It's okay to be scared and you don't have to be ashamed for that. But, choose to see the good and share that with the world because that's how we're going to keep holding on and sticking together.’ This became my mantra for the rest of the year. It was the one thing I could hold onto. My second lesson came quickly and it was similar to the first. It was finding peace amidst the chaos. Right before my office closed down for about a month, I took an early morning walk to see the sunrise on the harbor because I knew it would be a while before I got to do it again. I was gifted with the most spectacular colors. I’ve always been drawn to sunrise and sunset, but this one almost brought me to my knees. There had been so much pent up anxiety, and the calm waters, surrounded by pink and purple skies, immediately grounded my anxious thoughts. It reminded me that when the world is falling apart, its people come together the most, and when it seemed like pain and darkness were winning, there was God doing His best work in us and the world surrounding.

As we’re entering a new year, I’ve seen a lot of people say that they want to just erase this year from their memories. There is definitely personal tragedy and turmoil that I wish I could forget too, but there are so many other memories that I want to remember for the rest of my life. Zoom calls with new friends. Getting our new dining room table and finishing up our board game room. Getting out into nature whenever I could. Planning a surprise party for my husband and seeing his face light up. Seeing my baby sister run in her State Cross Country Championship. A week in Alabama seeing family and friends. Focusing on my mental health, and making sure everyone else was too. When all of the news and talk were on the dark things, it was those little in between moments that made this year worth fighting for. In an all-around heavy year, these were the things that brought me joy and light. I’m sure, that if you think back, you’ll find these moments too. I’m starting to realize that I don’t want to forget this year after all. I want to solidify it in my memory and always hold onto the lessons it taught me. I hope you do too.

This new year may also be difficult, but if we hold onto the things that 2020 taught us, I think we can all make it through anything this life has to throw at us. Like a forest after a fire, life is returning, and after the heaviest of storms, the sky is beginning to clear.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
Photo Below: with husband Blake during Alabama trip.



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