I look forward to New Year’s Eve every year. Not because I think that on January 1st, all the hurts, sorrows, and difficulties will magically disappear, or because I like to stay up late (I haven’t made it to midnight in years). I don’t really even like going out all that much, it’s noisy and crowded.
But I do like looking back over the year. Seeing what I accomplished or didn't, what I tried and succeeded, or failed, at. The books I read, the people I met, the relationships that continued or didn’t and why. I like to see where I did well and where I need to improve. And I love, love, LOVE, starting a brand new journal.
Every year, I have an entry from January 1st where I try to remember everything I can about the previous year and write it down. I almost always have a list of resolutions too. But I’m the type of person who makes a list of resolutions and then promptly forgets about it. I do remember at the end of the year when I’m thinking about these kinds of things and I like to go back and see what I wrote and if I accomplished any of them, though.
But one thing I’ve never done is assign a word to a year. I know at the beginning of 2020 the catchphrase was “2020 vision” And soon after Corona hit, that fizzled into a meme, and a joke. I think trying to assign a word to the future is futile. But looking back on a year and giving the year you just lived a word… well, that makes a little more sense. However, I’ve never done it.
This year, though, I’ve noticed a word has come up a lot for me. In random conversations, in my times talking with the Lord, on the T.V. or radio. And as I’ve started thinking about the past year, getting ready for that brand new journal and the first entry I’ll write in it, I decided that along with remembering all that 2020 entailed, I also needed to remember this one word: Resiliency.
I think most people would agree that 2020 has been the worst of the worst. We’ve all faced trials we never thought we would, and it feels like the world has turned upside down with all the riots, protests, fires, earthquakes, murder hornets, the election, social distancing, isolation, and on, and on it goes.
Even me and my family, who live out in the country. I work from home, I hardly leave my house except to go grocery shopping and take my kid to work, and occasionally to meet with friends or go out to eat, or to work somewhere other than my house, like a coffee shop. And that’s my normal when there isn’t a pandemic. Still, this year has been overwhelming in so many ways.
Here we are… the end of the year. December 2020 and some things look promising. What those things are will vary for every person depending on where you stand on different issues, but none-the-less, there is a light, albeit a small one, at the end of the tunnel.
I thought I’d been through hard times before, but this year showed me a different type of hard. One that affected me mentally, physically, and spiritually. And I can honestly say it’s not over yet. I’m still facing those hard things, still working through them. Still feeling the burden of this year.
Even though the word I’m choosing for this year is resiliency, I haven’t felt very resilient. Looking back over the year, I can say I felt discouraged, lonely, overwhelmed, angry, annoyed, frustrated, and anxious. Those were big emotions this year.
But I also feel like I spent 2018 and 2019 preparing for this year because of the research I’ve done on how our brains and our emotions work. And so even though I haven’t felt very resilient, I can look back over this year and acknowledge that I did in fact feel all of those big emotions, but I also breathed, turned off my devices more, spent more time outside enjoying nature, remembering things that have brought be peace and joy in the past, and smelling scents that bring me joy. I recognized when I needed to stop, step back, and take care of myself.
I didn’t spiral. I wasn’t defeated. I managed. I used the tools I had to keep my head above water. I’m proud of that. And even though I still feel a weight on my shoulders, it’s not crushing me.
I think if we all take a close look at this past year, we can find a resiliency in ourselves we may not have even realized we had. And I think when I write my first journal entry for 2021, that’s what I’m going to focus on. Looking back and seeing how I was resilient, how I bounced back from this crazy year.
So, here’s to moving forward and growing stronger in 2021.