I think it only prudent to take some time to reflect on the events of last year and what I’ve learned from them. Most years, annual reflections seem a bit hokey to me. However, because of how challenging 2020 proved to be for many of us, I think a bit of mindful reflection is long overdue.
Here are a few of the lessons I learned in 2020…
1. Hold All Things Loosely
Whether it’s your plans, your job, your finances, or your relationships, hold all things loosely. This year, my husband got furloughed and I had shift cuts with a subsequent termination. I never anticipated having to start a new job in the last quarter of this year. Never. Ever. EVER. However, when you hold your plans loosely, you’re able to take each circumstance and setback in stride. Be open to the possibilities around you! Sometimes the best things in life aren’t planned, they just happen. And they happen because God orchestrated them! God’s plans will prevail every time and his plans are always better than ours. Can I get an AMEN, SISTER!?!
2. Refuse To Be A Critic
Let me break this one down for you. In Matthew 7:1 it says, “Refuse to be a critic full of bias towards others, and judgment will not be passed on you.” Basically, the ultimate judge is God. And I have no right to thwart his power by believing I know better than He who created the entire world. But in these maddening times, I’ve found it even more challenging to slay not only my inner critic but also my other critic. This past year, I heard my fair share of bold and brazen statements that I didn’t agree with. But that doesn’t mean that I can critique and criticize those I believe to be in the wrong. I can think of a handful of people I know and love who I don’t agree with politically, socially, heck even spiritually. But that doesn’t mean that I should be the first to throw a stone. Whenever I feel enraged by something or someone who I believe to be wrong, I consider it a God wink. He’s inviting me into closer relationship with him. The battle has already been won. Let God be the critic, not you.
3. Find Joy In The Small Things
Woof, this is a good one. At the beginning of quarantine, I had to really dig down deep to find joy in just about anything. My job in the ER was tremendously daunting and exhausting. I didn’t have but a few friends outside of work. But joy can still be found even in the darkest of times! The thing about joy is you often have to seek it and/or choose it. It’s not always something that comes naturally to us, but the joy of the Lord is a powerful thing! Whether it’s a long walk alone where you can hear your every thought, a dip of ice cream on a summer’s day, a long embrace from the one you love (#oxytocin), or hot coffee in the morning while reading God’s word, joy can be found in the small things. Never underestimate the power of joy!
4. Love Your Neighbor
Growing up, I always thought that “loving your neighbor” meant inviting your next-door neighbor to church or saying hello to them as you passed their house. With time and maturation, I’ve realized that loving your neighbor is more than that. It’s not simply extending an invitation to church or dinner, loving your neighbor starts with how you treat your “neighbors” within your own home. Your neighbors are your spouse, children, parents, and siblings. God calls us to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. So by setting the standard to give selflessly and sacrificially to those within our homes, we can better love our co-workers and next-door neighbors outside of our homes. And sometimes loving your neighbor doesn’t always look like sharing a casserole, sometimes it’s wearing a mask in public, helping fold laundry, taking the trash out, or not going to work/church/school when you feel under the weather. Loving your neighbor can mean a lot of things, but it’s always selfless and sacrificial.
5. Never Take Family For Granted
I haven’t hugged my niece or grandparents in over a year. It makes me wanna cry just writing that truth down. This past year, despite the fact that I am approximately 112 miles away from my parents, I have only seen them five times. We are all learning how to maneuver through a pandemic with grace for ourselves and for each other. We are all learning how to be respectful of one another’s comfort levels. But looking back at Thanksgiving in 2019, I’m saddened looking at our family group picture because I’m wondering when that will ever happen again. Never ever ever take for granted family.
6. Normal is Overrated
I know at the beginning of quarantine, everyone was talking about wanting a “return to normalcy”. However, I don’t want a return to normal. This year taught me that I have a lot of room for improvement, but also that normalcy is overrated. My idea of “normal” was keeping myself busy with work, entertainment, and activities to the point of disregarding the problems right under my nose. Problems of racial inequality, healthcare inequity, and education disparity. Problems of selfishness, superiority, and perfectionism. I want to be an advocate for those without a voice. I want to be more cognizant of how my actions/inactions have huge repercussions. Moving forward, my desire is to be more educated and aware of the world in which I live. To be more understanding of how my daily life and habits dictate my values. If I’m not making strides for changes, I might as well be on the sidelines. I don’t want normal, I want to be better and do better. I think we can all get behind that!
7. Be Brave Enough to Be Bad
As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, being bad at something is usually not in my vocabulary. But every expert was once a beginner. You can’t be amazing at something without grit, time, practice, and patience. In our world of instant gratification, it’s hard to accept the idea that growth and improvement isn’t an overnight transformation So if you’re scared to try a new hobby because you aren’t good at it or fearful of being bad at exercise so you’d rather not try, know that it takes bravery to be bad at something. Be brave, bold, and courageous and take the leap of faith to do something you may not be good at it. You may even enjoy the challenge! Heck you may even gain some humility in the process. Your ability to perform is not a reflection of your worth, so don’t let your lack of experience define your identity.