I might be a few days behind on this topic, but you know what they say, better late than never! Man, what a year 2020 was. When we turned the page from 2019 into 2020, we did not have the slightest inkling of what was coming. A global pandemic, economic distress, civil unrest over racial injustice, and an extremely polarizing presidential election all occurred in this single calendar year. It is a small wonder that World War III did not also break out, with all of the international finger pointing and name calling.
This past year caused many of us to worry over health, finances, job security, injustices, furloughs, quarantines, and many other things. Some people suffered losses of an unimaginable magnitude, and my heart truly goes out to them. We hear so many stories about the number of people who have died as a result of COVID, but the true effects of the casualties often get lost in a wave of statistics, opinions, and headlines. The statistics have a way of removing the human suffering attached to the individual numbers (lives lost) on a graph. That effect is immeasurable.
The newfound difficulties and struggles were not simply limited to people who lost a loved one to COVID. Prolonged isolation, limited activities, online education, and quarantines all led to increased loneliness and sadness in the general population. The daily/weekly/monthly activities that we took for granted suddenly disappeared, and we simply were not prepared to be alone for so long.
Racial injustice became hyper-visible to the public eye after more people lost their lives in situations that should have had a different outcome. While increased visibility will undoubtedly bring about positive change, the divide caused by differing responses to the racial issue was disheartening. As humans, we are all made in the image of God, and that is the most important thing about us, not the color of our skin or the texture of our hair.
For that reason, and many others, 2020 is being labeled as a year worth forgetting; a dark year that has been filled with struggles and pain for many.
The interesting thing about 2020 was the collectiveness of the suffering. I would argue that everyone has years in their lives that are challenging and difficult, but the struggles of the past year were felt by individuals, communities, counties, states, and nations. That in and of itself is unusual. Perhaps the last time challenges of this magnitude occurred was in World War II. Maybe someone could prove me wrong on that timeline, but the point is that facing challenges collectively does not happen very often. It usually happens in individual lives, families, or communities; rarely does it happen on a individual and global scale simultaneously.
That being said, I feel that 2020 should be eased up on a bit. To say that there were few bright spots in an entire year seems to me to not only be doom and gloom, but just flat out wrong.
A brief insight into my perspective — The effects of 2020’s specific challenges have been light on our family, but we still did have plenty of unexpected obstacles come our way. I am thankful that we live in an area that we can get outside 12 months a year, our state was one of the first to reopen, and my husband still has his job. No one in our circle has gotten really sick, and all of our needs have been met. I am not making light of anyone’s challenges, realities, struggles, or suffering. I am simply saying that there are things to be grateful for if we choose to look for them.
Here are some things that I can quickly think of to be thankful for:
– New lives in 2020 — As with any year, many babies were born. They are huge blessings, and what a sweet distraction from the madness of the year.
– More family time — With busy schedules, commutes, hobbies, and other social demands, family time can often take a backseat. Being forced to stay at home helped us all to slow down and reexamine the things that are most important to us.
– Opportunities to learn a new skill or hobby — What did you learn to do during the year? I bet you learned something new while stuck at home! Sewing, baking, reading, and gardening are a few things I was able to learn or spend more time doing.
– Renewed appreciation for little things — Not being able to go out and about really put things into perspective. Eating out, shopping, and meeting up with larger groups of people was something I’m sure most of us took for granted. We were not able to physically attend church for about two months, and that was hard. Not being able to go to church for a while really made me appreciate how important it is to go.
– Normal blessings that happen every year. New opportunities at work, new friendships/relationships, anniversaries, birthdays, buying a home or car, discovering a new interest, spending time with family and friends, growth and development of your kids, etc. All of these things still happened in 2020.
While the passing from 2020 to 2021 held great symbolism for many people, nothing much has changed. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic, people are still flawed and sinful, and politics are still a hot mess.
What 2021 represents is hope for the future, and that is inspiring, but the important thing is to not get caught up in always thinking the future will be better.
The present is pretty good, we just need the eyes to see it.