My year started with hope for a good year, as I’m sure it did for most. But then February brought bronchitis and March brought shutdowns, which for me, wasn’t a huge change. I’d been working from home for eight years at that point, and started working on my online master’s degree in July of 2019. So, I stopped going to rehearsal for The American Festival Chorus, I stopped going to church, and I stopped meeting friends for dinner. Other than that, my daily life wasn’t much different. I don’t have children to homeschool or help with virtual school, so I just plugged along with my life. April brought Covid-19 home when my nurse roommate contracted it at work and generously shared it with her daughter and me.

My sadness came in realizing how normal this was for me. I was always sad … and the changes of this year had not made my life any harder, just different hard.

This was the long-haul version of Covid. I was sick for a month with lingering symptoms for months after. My roommate has been unable to return to work and has tested positive yet again here in December. It’s been hard, but we had so much love and support from friends and neighbors who brought us food and flowers, mowed our lawn, fed and watered our goats and horses, pulled our weeds, and sent us messages of love. We had some tender, tearful moments of weariness and some tender, tearful moments of gratitude. We felt the Spirit in our home a lot, but we felt a lot of emotional and physical exhaustion as well. There were some really bad moments and there were some really sweet moments.

As the year progressed, my Facebook feed filled with complaints about isolation and masks, despair over the election, and how awful 2020 was. I felt numb to a lot of it and I came to realize that the years leading up to 2020 had been so hard for me, with a divorce, the death of my Dad, and a few years of health struggles, that this year was simply no different. My sadness came in realizing how normal this was for me. I was always sad … and the changes of this year had not made my life any harder, just different hard. 

In September, there was a BYU speech by Kevin J. Worthen on hope which touched me deeply and got me realizing that true and meaningful hope was what had been missing from my life. In early October, I was given a blessing in which the Lord instructed me, not once, but twice, to “fear not.” Then, my friend asked me to take a few minutes in her Relief Society lesson to speak about “being of good cheer in hard times.”  I told her, “you’ve got the wrong girl,” and spent the next few days trying to figure out what on Earth the Lord could possibly want me to say on a subject that I was so clearly failing. Then, President Russell M. Nelson asked us to #GiveThanks and offered a prayer for all of us. 

Somewhere in this period of time, my sadness dissipated; my despair is now in remission. 

I’m not sure how many, or what combination of these things has brought me this miracle. In October of 2019, I was set apart for a new calling and blessed that I would “recuperate soul and body.” I don’t think this dear priesthood holder was even aware of all of my physical and soul-wrenching pain of the last few years, maybe a little. But that blessing is something I have held onto during the last year when sadness lingered, and bronchitis and Covid came to visit. The Lord promised me, and He is bound when I do my part. 

Interestingly, this peace has settled in my soul during what became some of the hardest parts of 2020 for me. My Mom lost two dear, long-term friends. One in October on her own 50th wedding anniversary, the other on her own birthday, which was also the 5th anniversary of my Dad’s death on December 2nd. For me personally, I lost two dear pets within a month, one of my sweet goats on November 19th and one of my beloved cats on December 15th.  

I have not much to explain my little personal Christmas miracle; I have patterns of discipleship in my life and I have a posse of amazing people around me. But having these things in the past had not freed me of some despair. 

This leaves me with utter gratitude for what is the best Christmas present I’ve ever received, the gift—the miracle—of Hope. 

And for that gift, I have only one explanation—soli Deo gloria—to God alone goes the glory. 

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