To My Pre-Covid-19 Self, From 2020 Me
Hey 2019 Mich,
Ooh, I’d put that fancy 2020 diary down if I were you. I know, I know, you’re tremendously excited at the thought of the start of a new decade, and to be fair, things are looking quite rosy in December.
The first half year of your work and social calendar is looking quite full. For starters, there’s the charity swim you’ve signed up for in January. I’ll let you in on this one, you did complete the charity swim, but it’s probably the only big thing you got to do because the rest . . . well, you’d just have to read on.
Anyway, where was I, yes, put that diary down while you’re at it. Oh okay, looks like you aren’t going to because you’re so excited at what 2020 holds: those overseas trips to Singapore, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Europe (both work and personal), and a friend’s wedding to attend. Pretty big milestone-y stuff, ones that make it to Instagram Stories and news feeds with various hashtags, and multiple refreshes to see who has liked your post.
Well anyway, none of that is going to happen. Yeah, none.
Ooh yes, I can sense the shock and disbelief. I’ll tell you what though, the only trip you’ll be taking is one around your house—to all four walls of your little unit. Ha! And you thought it would be to all four corners of the world.
You thought you’d be flying—actually, when I think about it, 9-year-old you thought the year 2020 would come fitted with flying cars, ala the ones from The Jetsons cartoon. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the only things that will be flying around in the early half of 2020 are misinformation shared on WhatsApp about Rona (oh, here I’ve let you in on another secret. The entire world will be put to a standstill as it battles Rona).
Who is Rona, you ask, and why is some lady holding me back from enjoying 2020? Okay, first of all, Rona is a coronavirus also known as Covid-19, and is believed to have originated from a wet market in a distant country selling exotic meats. I know it sounds incredulous, but the impact of the virus will have far reaching consequences. So be prepared for panic-buying at your local supermarket (especially toilet paper in the earlier stages of the pandemic, I’ll stock up on that stat), working from home for an undefined period of time, the days and weeks bleeding into a big blob of undefined something, and everything you’ve ever known (cafe outings, large gatherings, hanging out with your friends) coming to a halt.
Life, as you’ve grown accustomed to, will be pulled from under your feet. I’m sorry, it is as bleak as it sounds.
Rona will be on everybody’s mind and on every news headline you see. It’ll be the first thing you read about the minute you wake up, and the last thing you see before going to bed. The preceding days, weeks, and months, will be a constant test of your faith. As businesses shut and the economy, along with every sporting activity, comes to a stop, you’ll find anxiety, doubt, and cabin-fever knocking at your door. And you’ll find yourself wondering, “How long will this go on for?”
But don’t worry, you’ll not only cope with the upcoming unprecedented (be prepared to hear this word numerous times) time that is known as Covid-19, you’ll grow in these areas as well:
1. Cleaving to the One who’ll sustain you
As Rona lays waste to every social activity, you’ll find yourself with so much time on your hands and suddenly, life seems a little meaningless, with nothing to look forward to.
So, you’ll fill that time with reading the Bible and doing devotions which you’ve never really set aside time for before. You’ll also find that The Lord’s Prayer, so glibly said in the past because of its familiarity, will bring a new sense of comfort to you, reminding you to live one day at a time, as you continue to read all the bad news around you.
And when you think things can’t get any worse, it does. There’ll be a death to one of your dreams (something you’ve been harboring for half a year), and you’ll spend a good day and a half crying bitter tears over it. But you’ll find your strength in Christ, who bottles up all your tears (Psalm 56:8) and is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).
2. Being grateful for the littlest, tiniest of things
Haha, I know you’re going to roll your eyes at this one, because it’s so cliched, isn’t it?
But wait, don’t roll your eyes at me (I’m living months into the future, so I’m older and wiser than you, where are your manners?) Because when Rona does hit, you’ll find yourself learning to live out 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and be grateful for the tiniest of things. You’ll give thanks for things like full-time employment, family (you’ll have your sister with you, and thank God, your parents are healthy overseas), a group of strong friends (they’re also the very ones rallying around you as you nurse your broken dreams). And as winter deepens, you’d find yourself simply grateful to be able to afford the electricity bill because it means hot meals and hot showers in the evenings.
You’ll find pleasure in the simplest of things such as a video call with a friend, an afternoon of HouseParty games, and guess what, even a trip to see your physiotherapist is marked on your calendar as an event to look forward to (anything that’ll get you out of your home).
3. Rediscovering (and loving) yourself the way Jesus loves you
Did you know, you’re actually a walking bundle of nerves with deep seated insecurities? Oof, sounds a bit harsh, aye (you can thank me later for this truth-bomb). But for the past year, you have been so busy relishing in new experiences, you’ve completely ignored all your emotions, especially those niggly, tricky ones.
Time in isolation means more time scrolling social media. And soon, all the thoughts of not being “enough”—not pretty enough, not interesting enough, not smart enough—will wash up as you compare yourself to other people’s highlights. Even your hobbies (reading, writing, swimming) take a battering as you scrutinize them! Look at what others are doing—baking pretty cakes, gardening, eating fancy homemade dishes.
You’ll soon realize you can’t continue living in this cycle of toxicity, and so you’ll set off learning to seek wise counsel (Proverbs 19:20), learn to renew your mind day by day (Romans 12:1-2), and to see yourself the way God sees you—as His child (Romans 8:17). It’s during this very quiet, very dead time, that you’ll slowly begin to see that your worth is in Christ alone and in Him, you are more than enough.
Okay, you’re now probably thinking 2020 will be the worst year ever, but don’t worry, things do ease up. The tight restrictions of the first few months would slowly lift, and before you know it, you’ll be messaging your friends with texts like: “If one of you gets to the restaurant before I do, the booking’s under my name, I’m trying to make up my mind what to wear—it’s been so long since I’ve gone out.” As you slide into your car to start it, steering it out the driveway, and making your way to see your friends, you’d be promising yourself never to take things like these for granted again.
2020 may not start the way you envisioned, and sure, there’ll be some long, dark days ahead, but it will bring with it a whole heap of little life lessons. With a little bit of grit and with your eyes fixed on an unchanging God, you’ll get through this.
Cheering you on from 2020,
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