Today is September 1, and for me it represents the beginning of autumn. The first of the BER months. When everything seems new again. Autumn is my favorite time of year. I like everything about fall: the vivid colors on the trees, the crisp, cool air, the excitement of children going back to school, football games, and pumpkin patches. I love it all. I even enjoy the nights getting a little longer. Autumn is such a rich season, a season of harvest and plenty.
But this is 2020 and everything is different and definitely not what I planned. I should be over-the-top excited about Sooner football starting, but it’s more like, “Meh.” We won’t be going to the games in Norman this year (if they actually have games). Instead, we took the option of rolling our tickets over into 2021. It isn’t because we are afraid of getting COVID, but rather because sitting in a stadium that is three-quarters empty and cheering through a mask just doesn’t sound like fun. No tailgating, no Boomer Bash…the game day experience, like everything else in 2020, will be dramatically different. Not like it should be.
This is the year the Sooners were scheduled to play Army as an away game. Jerry and I should be going to West Point like we planned. But not this year. Cancelled! How many events have been cancelled in 2020?
I guess the first cancellations that hit us, like everyone else, were the large-group gatherings. We couldn’t go to church for many weeks, and we are only just now allowed to go back. We couldn’t go out to a restaurant for weeks; in fact our only outing for quite a while was a trip to the grocery store. Jerry and I cancelled our annual family trip to Rosemary Beach in the early summer. We didn’t get to see our granddaughter graduate from high school. We couldn’t be in the hospital waiting room while a daughter had surgery or a granddaughter gave birth. You have your own stories of cancelations this year: weddings, funerals, school events, and family reunions. Milestone events that were missed. Things that should have happened didn’t. Life should not be like this!
As I have been pondering these things on this September morning I am amazed at my own contentment. I learned a long time ago that expectations are premeditated resentments. I’ve learned not to be caught up in the “shoulds,” even when the “shoulds” are true. It’s true: life shouldn’t be like this, there shouldn’t be rioting and looting in our streets, people shouldn’t hate each other, my grandchildren should be able to go to school in person and shouldn’thave to wear masks, and by golly, there should be football as usual! But what should be isn’t, and staying stuck in the “shoulds” is a guaranteed recipe for unhappiness. Instead I need to accept what is and learn to deal with it. This has definitely been the year to roll with the punches. And amidst all these cancellations, this uncertainty, I have peace.
That peace comes from knowing God. The God I know created this world, and saw this year coming before time existed. Nothing has taken Him by surprise. He is our refuge, our safe place when all our familiar props have been knocked out from under us. He is there when the world faces a pandemic, when we lose our jobs, when our stock accounts shrink overnight, when all our plans have been disrupted and even plan B doesn’t work. He is there when the “shoulds” turn to “should nots.” I can trust Him because I have walked with Him for many years and know Him to be faithful and true to his word. Every morning I ask for new marching orders because I know my own agenda is not what matters and may be cancelled anyway. So I don’t stay stuck in the “shoulds.” I go to Him with what is, and ask Him what to do because He has a perfect plan for me. Proverbs 3: 5-6 tells me what to do:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.