Previously, this time of year always felt like milestone season. Calendars are crowded with graduations, awards ceremonies, proms, weddings, and countless other events that signify an accomplishment, achievement, or celebration on the passing into a new stage of life.
Due to the unprecedented circumstances this spring, most of us are finding our calendars empty. So many long-awaited moments have been postponed or canceled. So many of us are mourning dreams deferred or never realized. But where does this leave us? Without the milestone, what is the significance of passing the mile?
If you are feeling lost and disappointed in the milestones you and your family are missing this season, I hope that these reminders will serve as a comfort.
This is a valuable life lesson.
I tread lightly as I say this, aware that many have lost non-refundable deposits on events that will no longer happen or are struggling to keep small businesses afloat. It is undoubtedly difficult to take such a hit financially, but trust it is harder to go through life believing we are in complete control. Over and over the Bible reminds that God is ultimately in control of our lives. We may make plans, but it is God who establishes the steps (Proverbs 16:9).
There’s a certain peace in having no choice but to turn a situation over to God. Our instincts can often be to “take the wheel” from God when we feel things aren’t going our way, but these days, we are fully in the backseat. The wheel isn’t even within our reach. And while this can feel scary and uncertain, not to mention disappointing, ultimately, it frees us to sit back and fully enjoy the ride that God has planned for us.
It’s not the event that counts, it’s the action.
A gorgeous wedding does not equate a loving marriage. A graduation ceremony does not equal the act of earning your degree. Just as God tells us our faith is dead without the works that define it (James 2:16-24) it is the work that goes into our achievements that makes them worthwhile – not the achievement itself.
Keep in mind that while the pomp and circumstance of celebration are often well deserved, the event does not define your accomplishment. It’s unlikely that you’ll be hired for a job based on your ability to wear a tasseled cap and accept a diploma. But you will be hired based on the years of education you completed to achieve that diploma. Focus on where the value in the experience lies and try to let go of what has been lost.
Processing your disappointment is emotionally and spiritually appropriate.
I spoke to a mother last week that was devastated that her graduating senior would not get to attend a prom. After shopping for the perfect dress and having months of conversations about how she would wear her hair and where she and her date would celebrate after the dance, she was heartbroken that her daughter would not get to make the memories that so many other teenagers have.
“The worst part,” she told me with tears in her eyes, “is how terrible I feel even admitting this. We still have our health. Our jobs haven’t been impacted. We have computers and Wifi and plenty to eat and drink. Our lives have had minimal interruption compared to what other people are experiencing. I feel awful even being disappointed over something so inconsequential.”
Her sentiment is certainly shared by many, but it shouldn’t be. Inconsequential as missing a prom may seem comparatively, it is still a loss. Acknowledging the feelings of hurt, sadness, disappointment, and anger over this loss instead of pushing it down is a healthy part of the grieving process.
Note that the Bible offers specific comfort and encouragement for when we feel this way. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Don’t be embarrassed to bring your cares to God no matter how insignificant they seem in comparison – for “He will sustain you” (Psalm 22:55). This is such a comforting promise!
Despite the disappointments of this season, remember that God works all things together for good—both His good and our good (Romans 8:28). The promise that God works all things together for good does not mean that we will acquire all that we want or desire. But those who love God can trust His goodness, His power, and His will to work out all things for our good. We journey together with Him.
And as Christians, we can be confident that His plan will work out as He sees fit.
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