Good Riddance 2020!

I remember going into 2020 thinking it was going to be my year and plotting my world domination. I remember racking up one New Year’s resolution after another at the end of 2019. I remember planning out all the things I wanted to be a part of and everything I wanted to accomplish, including going off the grid for the first few months of the year so I could lose a bunch of weight. I wanted to return to see people awestruck and in wonder at my magnificent transformation. I might do that at the beginning of 2021 because it still seems like a good thought. Stay tuned. The point I’m trying to make is that I wanted 2020 to be about ME. 

Then we all very quickly realized that 2020 would not be about what we wanted. Anything involving us throughout the year would include a mask and contact-free social distancing. I didn’t do well with this change. I like body contact. It makes me feel more human. 

When I saw restaurants closing their dining rooms, I saw my dreams for 2020 implode in front of my eyes. Where would I spend those longed-for nights with my friends, dreaming up summer trips we were never actually going to take? My New Year’s agenda most definitely included Texas Roadhouse and Raising Cane’s. Yes, I could do drive-thru or carry out, but it just wasn’t the same, and my taste buds knew it. 

There weren’t enough Tiger King episodes to distract me from the fact that I couldn’t walk through Target mask-free. There weren’t enough Justin Bieber or Ariana Grande albums in the world to soothe me from not being able to hug my Granny for a few months. It even felt as if my morning devotionals wouldn’t be enough to help me overcome the anxiety from the gloomy appearance of our future. But I quickly learned that His peace, that peace that passes understanding, was never in short supply.        

There was a time before this pandemic when we were actually annoyed at all the things we long for now. We didn’t realize a maskless trip to the grocery store, not caring a bit if we accidentally brushed shoulders with someone walking down an aisle, would be transformed from a mundane task to memories of “the good old days.” Just sit on that thought for a second. We actually felt exasperated at the thought of a trip to the grocery store, maskless and with total freedom, and now we long for the simplicity of such a thing. When I think about every event that was canceled this Christmas that families look forward to each year as their own special traditions, it reminds me you never really appreciate what you have until it’s gone. Unfortunately, right now, we’re appreciating many things. 

Learning not to take things for granted and recognizing the uncertainty of how much time we truly have with our loved ones are lessons 2020 has taught, reinforced and beat to death. Both are timely, and sometimes cruel doses of reality that everyone must face. Looking around the living room at my family this Christmas, I felt grateful for the time we were all sharing with each other. I always had before, but a pandemic most definitely puts all kinds of things into perspective. I never know if it will be my last Christmas with my Pop. We always fill in those blanks with our grandparent’s names first, but it’s just as much a reality that it could be our ten-year-old cousin’s last Christmas. We don’t want to think that way, but the sooner we accept this truth, the sooner we can start loving everyone around us better. 

What I crave, and what I suspect many others crave, since it seems to be human nature, is comfort, security and protection. It’s been difficult to take hold of those things during this uncertain time. I don’t like being outside of my comfort zone. Truthfully, if I could lie in my king-sized bed all day wrapped up in layers of comforters, binging Keeping Up with the Kardashians and ignoring what was going on in the rest of the world, I would probably do that! Maybe that’s why I’m seeing a therapist now. Only time will tell. But I know full well, even without the help of my therapist, that we are not called to a life of comfort (or living vicariously through the Kardashians). We are called to be a light in a world where terrorists attack, wars, famines and COVID-19 run rampant, and we are all just trying to figure out where we fit into all of it. What I would like to see come from this year is people holding each other’s hands through that long, grueling process, instead of sticking up our noses and ignoring each other’s struggles. 

No matter your financial state, the state of your home life or the losses in your family, through this pandemic we all have been affected in some way. Maybe that is the reminder we needed from the good Lord above. None of us are better or worse. We are all just existing and living underneath the same skies, with the same problems and the same heartaches and triumphs. It is not my intention to present a preachy “we’re better together” message. Instead, my message is that “we should all be loving each other better.” That’s the best way we could move forward out of the chaos of this year.

As we close this nightmarish chapter of our lives, hoping to turn the next page and find on it a better 2021, I want to share some wise words from the iconic legend herself, Hannah Montana, from her 2007 hit single. “Life’s What You Make It.” It is my strong belief when we face difficult trials, we are also faced with two massive opportunities: to grow in love or to grow in bitterness. I want to choose growth in love. I want to choose growth in compassion, empathy, patience, kindness, and humility. We are constantly evolving and changing as people. We are finite in our thinking, but one thing I know for sure, pandemic or no pandemic, our trials should never determine how hard we love one another. When we honestly open up our hearts to those around us, the sky is the limit. 


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