2020 is just about over. And good riddance! It’s been a year for the history books, in all the worst ways.
From the global pandemic to the economic collapse, an impeachment trial, a bitter and toxic election cycle, racial unrest around the nation, natural disasters, and murder hornets, no one could have anticipated what a circus of horrors this year would become.
Last year, I published a blog with 3 new year’s resolutions for 2020. In that post, I talked about how this is always an exciting time of year where we look ahead in anticipation. But this year feels more like we’re just trying to limp across the finish line.
Even still, it’s a great time to look ahead to what we hope will be better tomorrows and resolve to make decisions that will in fact make them better.
This year has shown us that we certainly can’t control everything–not even close. But there are still good resolutions to make that will help us go further faster, regardless of the circumstances.
Here are 4 resolutions for a better 2021.
1. Resolve to manage your comeback expectations.
There really isn’t anything magical about the calendar turning over to a new year. I mean, it’s certainly significant. It’s an important moment for reflection. But the truth is, when you wake up on January 1, you aren’t a fundamentally different person than you were on December 31. What’s more is that the world isn’t a fundamentally different place either.
So as we look to kiss 2020 goodbye, we have to be careful not to place unduly high expectations on 2021 to be our collective savior. God willing, it won’t be as bad a year as 2020. I shudder to think how it could be any worse. The only place to go is up. But we need to keep ourselves from getting delusions of grandeur or setting overly optimistic projections.
In Jeremiah’s time, he gave the same warning. His people had just been carried away into exile. And in an effort to raise morale, some prophets were talking about how the people would return to the land soon. They were being unrealistically optimistic for the sake of making people feel better.
And so Jeremiah speaks against them with a much needed dose of reality.
“They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.”
The wounds of 2020 are serious. And some of them will take longer than the month of January to heal. When we pretend that’s not the case, it isn’t a sign of resilience. It actually sets us up for disappointment and discouragement when we don’t bounce back as quickly as we imagined.
None of this is to say you should be a downer. But as you look to what your 2021 may hold, be sure to think in terms of baby steps. Don’t overestimate what God wants to do in a short period of time. But also never underestimate the amazing places those baby steps in the right direction will take you.Don't overestimate what God wants to do in a short period of time. But also never underestimate the amazing places baby steps in the right direction will take you. Click To Tweet
2. Resolve to not forget the lessons 2020 taught you.
It was C.S. Lewis who said, “Experience is the most brutal teacher, but you learn, by God, you learn.” Well, 2020 has been one of the most brutal teachers of all.
In 2020, our faith has been stretched and strained. For some, almost to the breaking point. And yet, if you’ve paid attention, you’ve learned a lot. It would be such a shame to let that experience go to waste by returning to the ways we used to do things before 2020 smacked us upside the head.
If you spend much time reading the Old Testament, you quickly grow frustrated with the Israelites. Time and again, God has to teach them the same lessons. That they can trust him. That the way of faith and obedience will lead to a better life. That the false idols they prop up will never satisfy the desires of their hearts. And yet, almost every generation forgets the lessons God taught their forefathers.
We’re much the same. As soon as the pain stimulus is removed, our memory of the lessons we learned and the promises we made to God evaporate with alarming rapidity. It takes a real concerted effort to carry our lessons with us when we’re no longer in the heat of the moment. But if we are to truly grow more into the people God created us to be in 2021, that’s what is required of us.
So take some time to reflect. What has your pain produced in you this year? In what ways are you ready to commit to bring it with you into the new year?Take some time to reflect. What has your pain produced in you this year? In what ways are you ready to commit to bring it with you into the new year? Click To Tweet
3. Resolve to grieve your losses.
2020 brought with it many losses. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe you lost a loved one. Perhaps you feel like you lost a little bit of your sanity. Or maybe there were some big dreams for this past year that never came to pass.
It’s important to grieve all of those losses.
As we move forward into the next year, we will no doubt continue to experience loss. And when we do, I encourage you to grieve whatever those losses might be. Because when we pretend that our hurts and losses don’t matter, that’s when they weigh us down and begin to control us.
Jesus once said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Ironically enough, when we acknowledge that our hurts and losses matter, that’s when the pain they inflict begins to heal.When we pretend that our hurts and losses don't matter, that's when they weigh us down and begin to control us. Click To Tweet
4. Resolve to stay hopeful.
As you look to the future, maintain a healthy sense of optimism. While this year may have dealt you a bad hand, the difficulties of your past or present don’t need to define your outlook on the future.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, one of the defining characteristics of your life should be the unshakeable sense of hope you have. And our hope in 2021 rests not in the likelihood of our life situations turning around by February. It rests in the fact that God is faithful.
That’s why the author of Hebrew says this.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
Life is a journey. Without hope to help guide your path, you will swerve all over the road. Hold steady, because the God you serve is steadfast. And while that doesn’t mean that everything in this coming year will be easy, it does mean that God will be with you all the way through.Life is a journey. Without hope to help guide your path, you will swerve all over the road. Click To Tweet
The future is (un)written.
In one sense, the future is sure. Jesus will return. Everything that is broken in your life will eventually be restored. You will certainly become everything that God created you to be.
But at the same time, your immediate future is unwritten. The possibilities are endless. And while you can’t control the circumstances that will be thrust upon you, you can choose to step into a future that is full of hope, joy, and love.
With God’s help, let’s write a better future in 2021.