It’s not a wedding, or a graduation, or a funeral, or the birth of a child. This milestone may seem small on the outside, or small from the casual smile and shrug when you ask me. But the truth is that it hit me deep in the soul. My first milestone to occur during the COVID-19 pandemic: my daughter’s second birthday.
Two months ago, many in Kansas said that May 15 would be the date that things would start to get better. While some stay-at-home orders have lifted, it’s not the end, and it turns out we are nowhere close to an end in sight.
Don’t get me wrong, I know I have it good. My family is beyond blessed. But the purpose of this writing and this processing is an effort to not play the “comparative suffering” game. In my own circumstances, I am processing loss and change. I must grieve.
O U R . G R I E F .
I’m grieving that the last two months of Lydia’s second year of life, she didn’t hug nor play with many of her favorite people. She didn’t go to many of her favorite places. No kids church, no toddler gymnastics, no parks, no visit to see her grandparents in Texas, no play dates or babysitters, no chance to be the flower girl in our friends’ wedding, no softball or baseball games… the list could go on.
The things I am missing out on as an adult pale in comparison to the loss I feel for my daughter. My heart aches for her. It hurts. I feel a weight that is hard to explain. The pain I feel for Lydia’s loss of life’s experiences, diversity of people, sports, and activity is multitudes more than my own loss.
Day by day, I make an effort to focus on the positives. But for a moment, I can’t escape from what’s been hard. Like the moment when, during a “social distance” dinner with friends in our driveway, Lydia knew to keep a distance before I even told her. She learned from imitating the actions she saw everyone else doing to keep a distance. Or the moment when she asked if her two best friends could come to her birthday party, but she’s too young to understand why the answer is no. Or when she asks to go to the gym and upon hearing it’s closed, she responds with a prayer: Please God, open the gym! I admit that her prayer has more faith than my own.
And while she is too young to understand a global pandemic or perhaps even recognize a daily difference, more than it’s hurting her, it’s hurting me.
Outside of social media and select family, now for over two months, some of our closest friends aren’t seeing the beautiful young girl that she has grown into over the past few months.
They’ve never heard her sweet excited voice speak in full sentences or sing entire songs.
They’ve never heard her use the words please, thank you, I’m sorry, great job, I’m proud of you, and I love you—words in her daily vocabulary.
They’ve never heard her makes jokes just to get you to laugh.
They’ve never seen her use her newfound imagination to play “make believe.”
So much has happened in her little life. She picked up a ball bat and took a swing for the first time. And let’s not forget the fact that she’s potty trained! They’ve never seen her pride and joy every time she makes it to the potty, just waiting for mama and dada’s celebration and her piece of chocolate reward.
I wish they could see.
O U R . T I M E .
Some days the quarantine feels like life has paused.
like we’ve slowed down,
we can appreciate the simpler moments.
But as this milestone passed us,
it reminded me that
Time moves forward no matter how much we try to slow it down.
No matter how many things are canceled
no matter how many free evenings and weekends we have
Time moves on.
Which is why, I must remind myself of truth: these losses are not worth dwelling on. Time goes far too quickly to dwell on the things you can’t control.
I must grieve,
I must move on.
I must let go of the what-ifs and could-have-been and remember what is eternally important.
This quarantine has been an incredible opportunity to teach Lydia real life skills and to rejoice in the simple pleasures of life. Every night, we recite our family motto together: “We are the Tietz Family,” Kevin and I start, “and in this family we…”
Lydia usually prefers to finish it herself. “We live simply, give more, and expect less… because we have all we need in Jesus.”
She may have it memorized, but that doesn’t mean she knows what it means. Well, not yet. We are planting seeds that one day, we pray, will bear fruit.
We are modeling a family that eats meals together, takes care of each other, laughs together, prays together, reads God’s Word together, exercises together, takes care of our home and yard together, forgives, celebrates, and loves.
We are modeling a family that endures. We don’t always get what we want, and not everything in life will be in our control. We have to be brave when things are hard. We have to ask for God’s help when we are afraid.
We have to remember to live simply, give more, and expect less.
Because we really, truly, have all we need in Jesus.
that’s what counts.
Lord, help me let go.
O U R . H O P E .
On April 29, 2019, I started reading the Bible chronologically with the hopes of finishing it in a year. 364 days later, I finished Revelation 22, the last chapter.
I was reminded in that chapter of our eternal hope. The timing was fitting. By the way, this is how the entire Bible ends:
‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’ The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
…He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:16-17, 20)
Jesus reminds us that He is the promised one, the one that fulfilled all the laws and all the prophecies from of old. And we are reminded that those who want Jesus, get Jesus. The one who is thirsty can come to Him, drink from the water of life without price.
There is no price to pay,
no checklist of things we must do,
or we must achieve,
or we must get right before we come.
We get to come without price because Jesus paid the price for our sin on the Cross. And He promises that He will come again.
So when we see the pandemic at hand, the death count rising, with no end in sight
Come, Lord Jesus!
When we read yet another headline of a racially driven murder
Come, Lord Jesus!
When we feel helpless to comfort friends, spouses, children, or parents, those we love the most
Come, Lord Jesus!
When our private thoughts and actions are exposed, and we must confess our own sin
Come, Lord Jesus!
When we hold walls up to others or self-harm because it feels like the only thing we can control
Come, Lord Jesus!
When we teach our kids that we have “all we need in Jesus,” this is what we mean: All of our hope, our joy, and our satisfaction is found not in material things. It’s found not in the exhilarating experiences of life like sporting events or big parties. Whether homebound or traveling the world, whether richer or poorer, whether sickness or health, no matter our circumstances, our hope in Jesus is one thing that doesn’t change, even when our world changes.
So as I reflect on Lydia’s second birthday and let go of birthday party hopes and dreams, or what could have been for her these last few months, I am reminded of the opportunity to point my daughter to her ultimate hope. No matter the trials she faces in her life on this earth, may those seeds be planted, that even she has all she needs – not in mama or dada or birthday cake or balloons – but in Jesus.
In Lydia’s heart, mind, and soul
Come, Lord Jesus.