I think most everyone will agree that 2020 was not the kind of year any of us expected. What many thought would be a year of “vision” and achievement instead became a year of confusion and isolation.
Already fatigued from 2019, we quickly dove into the fear of a potential World War 3 (yeah, remember January?). Then we saw the outbreak of a global pandemic, followed by race riots and one of the most annoying and divisive election seasons in my nation’s history. If a case can be made for there being an objectively bad year, 2020 probably takes the prize. I don’t know about you, but I’m very excited to say goodbye to 2020.
And yet, sadly, many of the problems 2020 brought to the surface are still going strong, with little signs of stopping. The virus is still making the rounds. Fierce arguments over government responses to the outbreak continue to rage. My country is still hopelessly divided on political issues. And countless friends and family members have either known casualties of COVID (including one friend of mine who passed from it) or have loved ones who are currently ill from it. It’s difficult to be very optimistic about the coming year.
But I don’t intend this post to be all gloom and doom. Looking back on 2020, I realize that I have much — very much — to be thankful for. In fact, strangely enough, in some ways 2020 ended up being a good year for me personally and for my family. In the midst of all the mess, there were some truly great things that happened:
- We had another kid, and he’s healthy and happy (and chunky!). He loves to laugh, always smiles when he sees a face, and has been lifting our spirits throughout the malaise of these past couple months.
- This blog has consistently grown in traffic since March, with viewership more than doubling over the previous year. That’s been a much-needed dose of motivation to keep me writing.
- Shifting to working from home was a huge blessing in disguise. It was a weird transition at first, but it’s actually enabled us to spend a lot more time with our kids and develop a much stronger relationship with our two-year-old, Declan.
- My wife started working at a new job closer to home, and her younger brother got married this month.
- Our new Anglican church has brought several unexpected benefits to our family, not the least of which has been a healthy dose of spiritual discipline and structure for us and our toddler. My wife and I have talked the last couple of years about what kinds of Christmas traditions of our own we’d like to establish as a family unit, and we never really settled on anything. But this year for the first time we celebrated Advent in the traditional way, with evening devotionals and singing by candlelight in the days leading up to Christmas, and it was amazing! It kept us much more centered on Christ throughout the month, and it gave Declan something tangible to participate in.
So yeah. Overall, even though 2020 was a ridiculous year, I can’t say it was bad for me.
I know there are a lot of people who can’t say the same, and for whom this year was deeply traumatizing. My heart goes out to them, along with my prayers. But the fact is that every year we spend in this broken world is quite a mixed bag — we have triumphs and tragedies, joy and tears, and sometimes all of the above mingled together. I certainly didn’t deserve to make it through 2020 as unscathed as I have, so I am simply and immensely thankful.
I don’t share all these positives to brag (at all), but simply to take stock of the year past, to prepare myself for the year to come, and hopefully to bring just a little bit of optimism to anyone reading this.
I don’t have any inspiring platitudes to hand out as we head into the uncharted and fog-shrouded waters of 2021. Times are tough, and they’re probably going to get tougher. I know God’s still on his throne, and personally I’m excited to see what’s ahead in terms of my own ministry path; but I’m also aware that there will be plenty of mounting challenges facing the church.
Let’s prepare ourselves by focusing on Christ, by immersing ourselves in his word and in prayer, and by refusing to drift away from the hard but vital work of participating in the community life of his Church.
Hope you all have a happy New Year’s and I’ll see you in 2021!