Tindell Baldwin »

In Case 2021 is no Better Than 2020

And it takes and it takes and it takes

I woke up at 3 am singing that line. Sometimes insomnia takes the form of repeated song lyrics you can’t quite place. Like a ferris wheel it spins around and I keep waiting for the ride to stop.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

As the words circle around in my head I watch 2020 like a movie playing out. The countless meals I cooked for hurting friends, the tears of my children when plans were cancelled and they couldn’t see friends, the funeral of a friends mom who was taken too soon and the list goes on. Heartbreak after heartbreak. Tear after tear of a year filled with real pain and real loss.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

In the movie I watch Claire getting off the bus last March and I’m holding our 4 month old. I knew in my heart I wouldn’t see that bus for a while. I can see months of juggling four kids, their education, their church, their loss, and trying to keep it together. Nursing a baby while facilitating a zoom call for a 7 year old is not something anyone should have to do. There were months of Ben working extra long hours so he could keep his team afloat. I can see the countless nights we argued because we were all stuck in the house and I needed something I couldn’t get… reprieve. The hits felt like they wouldn’t stop. Painful phone call after painful phone call.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

Then I sent my kindergartner to school in our basement and watched my 2nd grader fall behind because she couldn’t go to school. I cried most days because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t do it all well. At night I would collapse exhausted yet awake, I knew what my kids needed but I couldn’t give it to them. We found the good of course… we went to the beach, went on walks, played games, and watched movies. We learned to turn our house into a school, church, office, and gym. We utilized every room and I kept praying for patience, hope, and change. We watched the country rip itself apart with lines in the sand and no grace or understanding. We read the news and then stopped when it seemed the only thing we could agree on was that no one could agree. We rode waves of fear, uncertainty, fatigue, and questions. We prayed and we prayed and we prayed.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

Then school started… in the building. I thought we had survived. At least we could find a way forward. For a few months it looked like the worst may be behind us and that we had pulled off this almost impossible ask. Benji turned one, we celebrated what a joy he is but I quietly mourned that I had lost his whole first year. We mourned so much loss. The loss of normal, the loss stability, the loss of gathering as a church, and I wondered when it would stop taking? The kids asked when they could stop feeling afraid. They prayed every night for God to take the virus away. I told them we weren’t afraid. I told them we would be wise and seek the council of those who knew more but we were not afraid. Their little hearts hardly registered it all. They just knew there was pain and fear all around them and we struggled to bridge the gap at home.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

Then a storm blew through and devastation hit all around us. A pine tree fell on our house and missed our sons room by a few feet. Holes in the roof and our back deck caved in felt like an accurate representation of this year. We thought maybe the worst is behind us? We praised God for Benjis safety. Ben and I didn’t even care about the house in the wake of this year what was one more obstacle? Then numbers kept going up and the circle of the sick caved in around us. Then two weeks before Christmas Covid hit my dad. He got very sick and we watched Christmas slip away like all the other dreams we had for this year. 

And it takes.

And it takes.

And it takes.

Right before Christmas I tucked Briggs in one night and he just started to cry. He said “ mom is it true we won’t see birdie and poppy on Christmas? I heard you on the phone” I cried with him and told him yes buddy it was. My heart was breaking.I cried for another blow after a hard year. I cried for my mom who was at home riding the storm as my dad went in and out of fevers. I cried for my dad who loves our family gathering at Christmas. I cried for lost nerf gun fights and cousins cuddling watching Christmas movies. I cried because there had been so much lost. Was any of it huge? No, but small paper cuts add up over time. We were all sore and a little tender. 

Briggs asked if I would sing him the song that helps him sleep.In Christ alone, its the song I’ve been singing to him since he was a baby. In almost a whisper I started to sing

“In Christ alone my hope is found, he is my light my strength my song. This cornerstone this solid ground. Firm through the fiercest drought and storm”

And he gives, and he gives, and he gives

I left his room and  I thought there is someone who still gives in the middle of all the taking. There was hope to be found in the broken mess of a year we have had.

God always gives extravagantly more than we deserve because he gave us a Savior. Every night we would read a verse with the kids building up to Jesus birth and I could see it all. It was a glorious build up to the thing we all needed most… hope. His gift never aims to diminish the taking we will face but instead offers more hope than we could dare to imagine possible. I think that’s what I love about God, how honest the scripture is about our real struggle. Jesus was so upfront with his people about how hard life would be. It wasn’t that he gave them a way out of the pain but he did tell them he would give them more. “In this world you will have struggle but Take heart” he said, “I’ve overcome this world.” He was so honest. He was confident his gift would be enough in the middle of all the taking. 

He gives, and he gives, and he gives

My hope in Jesus won’t take away how hard this year was but this year won’t water down my faith either. I won’t be disappointed that God didn’t show up like I expected because I know he keeps showing up. I know he’s working in the broken mess even when I don’t know what he’s doing. He’s working in the pain and giving me what I didn’t even know I needed. I know that all the good I’ve been able to see is because of him and the hard I’ve been able to endure has been his doing also. This year has taught me that I am fragile, poised at any moment to be taken down but my God is able and worthy of all my trust. I don’t know what 2021 holds, it could be just as bad… in reality it could be worse. I know he will give though. In the middle of all the taking… he will give. 

*The line is from the incredible play Hamilton available on Disney+

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