For the first time in my life, I set some goals at the beginning of the new year.
I spent several hours at the end of December 2019 reflecting and mapping out my hopes and priorities for the new year. I dared to hope, I dared to believe myself capable of following-through. Perhaps it was the hype of a new decade beginning, or perhaps I was simply weary of that nagging out-of-control feeling. I could never seem to get a good grasp on my time. I was constantly spending my energy on things that did not really get me where I wanted to go.
A Purposeful Start
My word for 2020 was plant. I wanted to establish new routines; to get the good night’s sleep that never seemed to happen, to stay on top of the chores I could never seem to keep up with, to improve my irregular devotion times, to finish the writing projects I always struggled to see through to the end, to rest and feel refreshed rather than numb, to enjoy these precious years at home with my small kids – I wanted to be present and purposeful. I set out to cultivate habits that would serve me and my family well.
And then COVID hit.
The focus I had on my 2020 goals went out the window by the end of March. We were in survival mode at my church (where I work part-time). I had to do things very much out of my comfort zone, and every week I wondered if someone else would be better equipped for my job. I felt trapped at home as I tried to figure out how to occupy my kids without play dates, the library, the park, or a trip to McDonald’s play-place. With us always at home, the house was messier than ever, and I thought it might drive me crazy. All my writing plans took a back-seat, and I felt like a failure.
For six months, I did not give my goals a thought. I was just trying to get through each day.
2020 in Review
I sat down last week and looked back on those notes from almost a year ago, fully prepared to accept that my hopes for 2020 had not worked out. As I went through the list, I was very surprised to see how many of my goals I had made progress on. In a few I had experienced significant growth.
It seems that the upheaval of 2020 demanded my attention to the very priorities I had set at the beginning of the year.
As I navigated all the changes at church in those early months, I had carved out boundaries around work and family life, simply out of necessity.
For the sake of my sanity, I had figured out a system for staying on top of the chores (more or less), and even how to make cleaning into quality time with my kids.
Numbing my stress with tv-binges just did not cut it anymore. I had to learn to find peace in a satisfying place – at Jesus’ feet. My devotion times found a steady rhythm.
I could go on and on – there are so many good habits that have been planted in 2020 because they were essential to get through this year. There are so many gifts that I did not plan for, so many graces that my eyes have been opened to.
A Bountiful Harvest
I do not know what your year has looked like so far – perhaps it has been indescribably hard. We have all been met with challenges for sure. 2020 may seem like a toss away – a year you merely survived.
As I reflect on this infamous year, I am reminded that nothing is wasted with God. This year of survival may seem desolate, but I encourage you to look for the fruit. It may not look the way you were expecting. It may not be where you expected it to grow. But I know that it is there, because our God is a God of abundance. There is no such thing as scarcity in His presence.
He promises that if we remain in Him, we will bear much fruit. (John 15:1-16) And one thing that this year has done is required us to abide in Him. We have been compelled by our circumstances to invite Him into every detail of our lives. Where we were distracted or apathetic, we have been shaken from our slumber. 2020 has made us get back to basics – to rely solely on God’s grace; to lean in to His strength, comfort, and wisdom.
Look for the fruit, count the fruit, and praise God for the rich harvest He has miraculously provided in a year of drought and pestilence. It is all for His glory, our good, and the good of those around us.
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8