Goodbye, 2020. Hello, 2021!
I can't tell you how long I've been waiting to say that.
I know I'm not alone when I say 2020 was the toughest year of my life to date.
Can you say the same?
For me, the year was flooded with pain, loss, suffering and disappointments. It felt like so many tears fell from heaven, I could barely stay afloat. I lived through some of my darkest days and my deepest grief.
It was the year that let me down. The year I held much hope for, only to be disappointed to watch its events unfold.
Even so, I'm grateful. Why? Because the Lord strengthened me through it all. Because He never left my side. He used my pain to show me His goodness. He used my disappointment to show me His faithfulness.
"Because of the Lord's faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! I say 'The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him.'" Lamentations 3:22-24 (CSB)
2020 was the worst year for me. It was also the best year.
It was the year that drew me closer to the heart of God than I've ever been. When everything else seemed to fall away, I was left in the presence of God. His presence is an everlasting embrace I never want to leave.
2020 was a gift.
All the same, as soon as 31 December rolled around, I was ready to say goodbye. Ready to greet the new chapter that is 2021.
After living through such an atrocious year, it's easy to hurry into a new year with haste. To want to forget what was and move on to what is. I get that. But I also believe in honouring the closure of one chapter in preparation for another.
As much as I was ready to turn my back on 2020, I knew I had to say goodbye the right way to walk into 2021 with peace and a new perspective. I did this in three ways:
Reflect on the year that was
No matter how awful the year was, I like to reflect on what happened and process my thoughts and emotions which follow. I typically do this with a spirit of gratitude, highlighting the things I'm grateful for. This helps me find the good in the year and cling to it.
Some useful questions to ask yourself as you transition into a new year:
What happened during the year?
What did God do?
What prayers did God answer? What prayers didn't God answer?
What did I find challenging?
How did I grow?
What am I thankful for?
Write down what you're believing for
After I reflect on the past year, I look forward to the coming year. I usually start by going back to my reflection question on what prayers God didn't answer, the things I'm still believing for.
I also follow the Holy Spirit's lead in getting a sense of the season God is bringing me into, which then adds to my list of what I'm believing for. This activity creates faith and expectation for what lies ahead, fueling my prayer life.
If you haven't yet, try sitting for a few moments with God and write down the list of things you're believing for in 2021. This could be in the areas of family, relationships, work, finance, ministry - anything! God cares about it all.
Go back to this list throughout the year and continually give each item to God in prayer. Then, come back to it at the end of the year in your annual reflection and give thanks to God!
Find scripture to hold on to
The Word of God should always be the foundation for how you live as a follower of Jesus. The Word helps you and I navigate through the crazy fog of life, it's the headlights that guide us even through the dead of night.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
In my walk with God, I've discovered that seeking Him for a verse (or a few verses) to hold on to, gives me focus for the year ahead. It's similar to how some people choose a word or a theme for the year to give them direction.
One verse I'm holding on to for 2021 is from 1 Peter:
"And then, after your brief suffering, the God of all loving grace, who has called you to share in his eternal glory in Christ, will personally and powerfully restore you and make you stronger than ever. Yes, he will set you firmly in place and build you up." 1 Peter 5:10 (TPT)
Spend some time in prayer and allow God to bring a particular scripture to mind. If that doesn't work for you, keep praying and continue with the course of your day. At the right moment, God will draw your attention to a promise from His Word through your quiet time, conversation, podcast-listening, worship, maybe even in your social media scrolling. He always finds a way!
And that's it. Three simple practices I like to do to end one year and begin another. A reminder that even after the most shocking year, a new year can bring new beginnings.
How do you like to start a new year? Please share by leaving a comment below! Also if you liked this blog piece, share with your friends!