“2020.” For the rest of our lives the mere mention of that fateful year will send a little chill down our spine. Every single person on this planet had life turned upside down and inside out by the coronavirus pandemic.
Now that 2020 is in the rear-view mirror, I think we have to ask the question: Is 2020 a year to forget?
I can imagine your answer is a resounding ‘yes!’ After all, the Apostle Paul’s life philosophy involved some intentional forgetting: “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal…” (Philippians 3:13-14).
There is a kind of forgetfulness that is good for us. It’s not healthy or productive for us to wallow in what last year could or should have been. So, yes, in this sense— forget 2020.
But, in another sense, we shouldn’t forget 2020. Each experience in our lives is meant to teach us something, to change us in some way. If we fail to learn the lesson, then the trials were all in vain.
The Bible compares this to “a man who looks intently” in a mirror, but then “goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (James 1:23-24).
To “forget” by refusing to change destructive patterns in our lives can be complete folly.
Winston Churchill said it like this, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has happened.”
The disruptions of 2020 held up a mirror to each of us, but most people will hurry off into 2021 as if nothing happened.
Don’t let that be you. Don’t forget 2020.
In this spirit, here are three ways to learn the right lessons from 2020 and press forward into 2021:
1. Reimagine Where You’re Going
Disruptions have a way of shattering the picture of the future we dreamt up in our minds.
Given the new realities created by 2020, you need to reimagine your future destination.
It’s like using a navigation app on your phone. You have to plug in the destination first.
Once you do, the app can show you several good ways to get there. But if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re going to end up somewhere else entirely.
Where was your life headed in January of last year? Given all that’s happened, is that still where you should be going?
Here’s an exercise you could try for determining your life purpose.
First, brainstorm to discover what things you’re most passionate about.
Second, make an inventory of what special gifts God has given you.
Combine these together to give yourself a brief purpose statement: “My reason for existing is to ___________.” Then, let this guide you into 2021 and beyond.
2. Reevaluate How You’ll Get There
Once you know your purpose, then you need to figure out how best to get there. You have to go to the right place in the right way.
Sometimes we settle on a good destination, but then we veer off course. It’s like taking a wrong turn and hearing the navigation app on your phone say “recalculating, recalculating” as you pass the exit you were supposed to take.
Be honest with yourself and look at the pattern of your life: Were you always pursuing your goals with integrity?
Were you keeping the right balance between work and your responsibilities to your family, your neighbors, and your church?
Were you using your resources to help others in the best way you could?
3. Reconnect with Your Maker
Solomon, the wisest person to ever live, wrote this at the end of his life, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
Most of the time we ignore death. But 2020 made this impossible.
At some point or another, I think we all had to face the fact that we could die and that we will eventually die.
Because this is true, Solomon says, we shouldn’t wait to ask whether we’re right with our Maker.
As you begin this new year, reconnect to your Creator and find lasting joy and contentment in him right now.
This will reorient your life around what truly matters and give you a peace that no pandemic can ever take away.
Let 2021 be a year full of hope, when you can move forward into an uncertain future with the certain knowledge that God loves you, cares for you, and offers you a destination worth pursuing.