It has seemed lately that life is harder than usual for many people—most likely due to the changes caused by Covid-19. Lost jobs. Businesses shuttered. Enforced homeschool. Deaths, of course, and lingering illness. And so many other stresses. Perhaps, especially, a lack of community. We are, for the most part, social creatures. And being separated from close family, friends, and work/school peers has been terribly difficult for so many people, young and old. “I’m so lonely!” is a cry we hear often. We hang onto any good news, clinging desperately, hoping upon hope that there won’t be yet another wave, that the vaccines will do their job, that there won’t be still more variants of concern that could throw a loop into the reopening plans being cautiously announced in at least some regions (as were announced today in my province, British Columbia, Canada). “Back to normal” within 3 to 4 months? Could it be possible?
But then I wonder. What is “normal”? Will it really be all sunshine and roses soon? Or does “normal” have its own “life is hard” moments? As a writer, I have filled many journals (6 filing “bankers boxes” so far, not to mention hundreds, maybe thousands of computer files) over the years. As I’m getting older (I hit the big 65 in summer 2020), I’ve been thinking about my poor kids and grandkids, and how it would be for them if I left them to deal with all those books. Maybe they’d have a fun “celebration of life” by building a huge bonfire and saying goodbye to the journals! On the other hand, maybe they’d prefer to take a look through some of them first. After all, there is some positive stuff in there, not to mention stories of our family which they might want to remember (or not?!?).
So I decided this past weekend, being a relaxing holiday long weekend (Canada’s Victoria Day holiday on Monday) that I would start going through the journals, tearing out pages that are overly depressing (or too personal), and tossing journals that focused on particular topics that I’ve left behind (I’m a “Jill of all trades” and have spent periods of time focusing on and researching particular topics of interest to me, but which, if my kids are at all interested, they could easily find more up-to-date and thorough information on line).
What I discovered is that, while there are plenty of interesting and upbeat recollections and thoughts, there is also a lot of “hard times” recorded in those journal pages. As I read through, I wonder how I ever made it through certain times in my life—relationship issues, financial issues, homeschool, lost jobs/closed businesses, deaths of loved ones, and all kinds of other stresses … including, yes, separation from family and friends sometimes, too. Huh. Sounds a lot like Covid, doesn’t it? But I’m thinking that maybe “that’s just life.” There is much to be grateful for in our world, without a doubt. But there are also struggles. It’s the nature of our world, I think.
So I wonder, how did I get through? What I’m finding tucked into my journal pages, especially in the hardest times, are poems and reflections that I clung to at those moments. Almost all of them are reflections of my faith (and sometimes, a definite lack of faith with wonderings and doubts…) in God. But overall, it’s that faith that has gotten me through. Therefore, I’ve decided that I should share some of those bits and pieces that held me up when I felt hopeless—with the hope that they might hold you up, too, if you’re going through a hard time just now. I’ll start by posting a short one that I memorized and have repeated to myself over and over through the years. Then, over the next while, I’ll post some more that I hope will reach into your feelings of sadness and hopefulness.
He does not lead me year by year
Nor even day by day
But step by step my path unfolds
My Lord directs my way.
Tomorrow’s plans I do not know;
I only know this minute.
But he will say, “This is the way;
By faith now walk ye in it.”
And I am glad that it is so,
Today’s enough to bear;
And when tomorrow comes, his grace
Shall far exceed its care.
What need to worry then, or fret?
The God who gave his Son
Holds all my moments in his hand
And gives them one by one.
- by Barbara C Ryberg
Thank you so much for this article. My grandmother is the author of this poem. I found your article by Googling her name. I am very touched that you have memorized this poem and that it had blessed you in such a powerful way. That is the exact reason why she wrote poetry. And she wrote it from her own experiences in her life, which weren’t always pleasant, but she kept her eyes on Christ. I want you to know that your article has blessed me in a very powerful way as well as I am going through a tough time in my life currently. Thank you and God bless you.
If Norma J Hill is still available, to read this response, as I see this is an older article and she may be retired, please give it to her and please give her my email address as I would love to communicate with her further. Thank you.
Thank you so much for your comment, Marcyleigh. I am glad the post helped you, and yes, I still think often of your grandmother’s poem. And though I am retirement age, I still love to write and want to get back to it soon–and your comment has encouraged me in that. Life has thrown some pretty significant twists and turns my way in the past year, not to mention I’m still tutoring and editing, so I haven’t written much on my blogs and websites (I have several). But yes, your comment has invigorated me to write more. So thank you! And if you’d like to communicate, my email is nlhills at shaw.ca