What 2020 Has Taught Me

Oh, how I could write a sonnet about 2020 and all the many unpleasant surprises it has thrown my way. After all the cancelled events and meetings and social and political pandemonium, I’m not sure a soul exists who now doesn’t relate to the phrase “life doesn’t always go according to plan.” In fact, 2020 wasn’t the first year I learned this lesson.

I first became very well acquainted with life’s curve balls when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2013 during my first semester of college. After that, I thought I was an expert on handling surprises and disappointments. Little did I know then. The seasons of life change more often than, well, the seasons. (Yes, I thought that was rather poetic, too.) I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s looked back this year on the previous “worst years my life” and thought, “Look how sweet and ignorant I was then, getting all bent out of shape over practically nothing. So naïve. So clueless. What I wouldn’t give to have that year back!” I was excited for 2020 until it robbed me of a normal graduation and graduation gift (a week-long vacation in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina) and of all the plans I’d made for this year.

2020 retaught me a lesson I thought I’d learned to its completion, but it turns out I’d only heard half the lesson. Life doesn’t go the way you want it to. I understood that. You’ll have to have contingency plans in place when things fall apart. Okay, got that. You might become depressed and anxious while walking through a barren, dry desert wilderness and may want to be bitter and angry about everything and turn back the clock to before when you were happy and ignorant and unaware and when everything was peachy, but you can’t let yourself be that way or else you’ll be lost in a chasm of doom forever—

—wait, how’s that now?

Seems a little over the top, but alas, I had let disappointments distract me and make me more frustrated with life than I had ever been. Before 2020, I thought I understood how to deal with disappointment and the unexpected, but I had only learned how to bottle up my feelings and fill myself with childish hope of how I might still “get my way” eventually. Such are the notions of a control freak. I still had to learn how to accept disappointments and (here’s the kicker) make the most of my circumstances anyway.

I honestly didn’t even realize I’d learned this lesson this year until the Christmas season arrived. Sigh, the most wonderful time of the year. You see, after all the cancelled church services and special plans and in the face of more altered plans, I resolved not to let 2020 steal my merry Christmas. Things still aren’t going exactly the way I would prefer, but frankly, I’m tired of letting disappointments make me angry and miserable. Christmas is supposed to be a happy and exciting time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior and spend quality time with loved ones. This Christmas will be different, yes, but I’m going to ensure I enjoy every single millisecond of it. This year has been ridiculous for all of us.

So, I encourage you if you’re down about cancelled plans or new disappointments because of COVID or lockdowns, don’t let this year take away any more of your joy or your resolve to enjoy life. God has a plan amidst all of 2020’s disappointments for you to prosper. There’s another common cliché that applies here: let go and let God. Believe me, as someone who’s like a dog with a bone when it comes to control, I know the difficulty that comes with letting go of your frustration over disappointments and wanting to change things yourself. For the sake of ensuring this year ends on a better note for you and your family, I encourage whoever is reading this to trust God, give all your anxiety and frustration to Him, and go all out for the holidays.

Really, be extra with the holiday décor.

Blast the Christmas music.

Soak in every second of chatting with friends and family.

Savor every worship service and message preached.

Rest in His Presence in every prayer and every quiet moment.

2020 is almost over. You will make it, and you know what? You might even be grateful for 2020 for making you cherish the little things you took for granted and for inspiring you to live for God more boldly and joyfully than ever before.

“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 (KJV)

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