I’ve been thinking long and hard about how to properly reflect on the past year, and how to prepare myself for the year to come. Every once in a while I like to write about life’s journey because it gives me a chance to slow down and connect with everyone who reads the AVNS blog.
I think the entire world must have let out a sigh of relief on New Year’s Eve as it felt the immense tension accumulated over the course of this infamous year finally giving way to the anticipation of a new start, but did anyone else have doubts that 2021 is truly the cure we’ve been waiting for?
I’ve seen the New Year’s Eve Instagram posts of my friends, their captions roughly shove 2020 out the door, personifying it as though it was an unpleasant houseguest who overstayed its welcome. While I admire and envy this bold and enthusiastic display of spirit, I’m a bit ashamed to admit I’m far too weary to join in and even more than that…I’m wary.
Wasn’t it just a year ago that we believed that 2020 would be our banner year? If 2020 let us down, who is to say 2021 will be any better?
Yikes, what a debbie downer, right? I’m kind of bumming myself out with all the cynicism, but bear with me and I think we can reach a brighter outlook.
I value storytelling because it allows people from all different backgrounds to find common ground amongst many differences. The experience I’d like to share with you is a Christian experience, and before you stop reading because you feel you may not be able to relate, I’d also like to emphasize that this experience is also wholly human and worth reading if you relate to attempting to navigate a world that contains both unbearable loss and overwhelming joy.
During a New Year’s Eve church service I attended (virtually) the speaker had asked the congregation to consider a perfect gift God had given them over the course of the 2020 year. As I thought about all the beautiful things I was grateful for (including my boyfriend of five years who was sitting next to me at the time) I realized I could not think of all the perfect things God had given me without also thinking about all the perfect things God had taken away.
This thought unsettled me, not just because of its bitter nature, but because of how inaccurate my understanding of God was in this moment. I gently reminded myself that God does not purposefully take things away from us and that loss and chaos are side effects of living in a broken world, but the entire incident had shaken me and I spent a great deal of time in thoughtful contemplation trying to reconcile my strange anger with my love for God.
As I write this blog, I reflect on 2020. I celebrate the fact that this blog marks a full year of writing weekly blogs for this beautiful company under the undeniably kind, creative, and giving guidance of Marianne. I mourn the fact that there are people who read this blog or love AVNS products who have lost loved ones this year due to COVID-19 and other causes. I think about all my friends who got engaged, planned their weddings, and started their lives while I moved back home with my parents. I think about how so many of those weddings were postponed or felt incomplete because of COVID while I rejoiced over reconnecting with my family after four years of being away at college.
What I understood from that moment during the service and what I understand now as I write is this: humankind relies too often on rhyme and reason. If there is anything we can agree on after this year it is how little the world actually adheres to a model of rhyme and reason.
As I said to my boyfriend after the service, “I think my greatest struggle as a human being is forgetting that there is a bigger picture and also my inability to fully reconcile myself with the idea that there is no way for me to know or understand exactly how that bigger picture works.” I continue to practice recognizing the gifts in live while simultaneously working through the difficulties.
That strange anger I felt, that instant need to blame God for the earthly occasions that caused me grief was my own humanity getting in the way of my love for God. My earthly compulsion to apply rhyme and reason to a world plan that defied earthly limitations set me up for heart ache and exhaustion. So what do I do to avoid feeling this way this year?
If you are weary.
If you are wary.
Consider this: 2021 is a new houseguest. Not an old friend, but a complete stranger. Instead of trying to control this year, let it pull up a chair and introduce itself. Don’t worry too much about how the house looks, or making some elaborate dinner. Simply focus on the basics. Be kind and be hospitable to others, and yourself. Welcome, 2021.