Ah, 2020. The year from the void. Over the past week, I’ve seen so many people laugh about shaking the dust of it off their feet as they charge into the New Year, hoping 2021 brings them better luck than its unfortunate predecessor.
That makes me sad.
No, I’m not going to enrage the population (or worse – the internet) by saying something trite. (Count your blessings! It could’ve been worse.) But I think hoping for a better year is setting us up for a quick and premature disaster, because chances are it’s not going to come true.
What happened, happened, and it will happen again, and this fallen world will spin on in its course of destruction until it tears itself apart. I am not surprised by evil. Pain is nothing new, and as the years go by, it only grows older and stronger. I am not surprised by evil, but I’m surprised we think we can run from it. Evil will hound our footsteps until the day it claims our lives.
And I’m sad. I’m sad because of so many things, but most importantly, I’m sad that we’ll never realize 2020 was a good year.
(Stop that. I know you’re sneering.)
I kept a journal this year. I started it January 1st, with the disclaimer that if my past track-record of unfaithful journaling added another failure to its list, I wouldn’t beat myself up about it. Weird thing is, I actually stuck with it. 365 days later, I have a finished journal, and I just started a new one. See, I didn’t try to record my life and everything in it, the ups and downs and (frequent) existential crises. Every day, I tried to write down only one thing. Only one small, insignificant moment that made me happy.
I didn’t realize at the time that the world would soon be thrown into panic, that businesses would shut down and uncertainty would reign supreme and fear, so much fear would choke my nation. All I knew is that I would forget those happy moments if I didn’t write them down.
So, I did.
“I wore fuzzy socks today.”
“Had a shopping cart race with myself in an empty Walmart aisle.”
“Built a bookshelf and vibed to Andrew Peterson.”
The day pandemonium broke loose and the store I worked in was mobbed with frenzied customers ripping toilet paper off the shelves?
“I sat with two of my favorite coworkers during lunchbreak and one of them bought me a coffee drink.”
The day we found out quarantines were extending for another three months?
“Gummy turtles are adorable. I want to keep one as a pet.”
The day of the elections?
“A nice lady gave me a sticker. I felt randomly important.”
So yeah, I’m not ashamed to say 2020 was a good year. I have 365 reasons why, all tucked away in a book. For the world, 2020 was horrible and 2021 will be just as bad, but for me, they’re empty journals waiting to be written in, moments waiting to be lived.
And I think— if you look back, really look, past the sickness and politics and anger, past the riots and fires and fear, fear, fear—
I think you’ll see it was a good year too.
The Lord doesn’t promise us happiness. We find joy in the wonder of who He is, in the light of eternity free from our darkness, in the promise of hope and redemption He gave us with His death. We seize joy in small moments, in little things, in our attitude when the bad things come.
2021 is not an escape. Don’t expect it to treat you well, because it won’t.
But it will be good.
We can make it be good.
I, at least, am going to try.