Today is the last day of 2020. You may be cheering for that. Or you may be mourning for all the loss that happened this year. Or maybe both.
Be careful though, just because we turn the calendar does not mean that everything stops and something new starts. The plague went on for many years. Both world wars raged on for multiple years.
We’ve gotten so used to things happening in short spaces of time that we put ourselves in danger when we expect that everything else also lives in those time frames. They don’t.
Here’s what 2020 taught me – the good, the bad, and the ugly edition.
Let’s start in reverse order, mostly because I am an eternal optimist and I’d rather get through the crappy stuff first in order to appreciate the good stuff at the end.
The Ugly: I learned how ugly people can be. The ugliness of narcissism and those that make excuses for narcissistic behaviors is sickening. I learned how much some segments of Christianity should really take on a new title because it isn’t Jesus they are worshipping. I learned that there is a pretty serious virus out there that has been around for a really long time and it reared its ugly head this year and shouted out loud. That virus was willful stubbornness and selfishness. These are related to narcissism too. But these viruses inflected many people – some I had to distance myself from throughout the year. The unfortunate truth is that there is no outside cure for these viruses. There has to be a willingness to change – to repent from these viruses. And the ugly truth that I learned is that there are many who choose not to. That is honestly very sad. I mourn for these people.
The Bad: COVID-19. This virus killed so many, or was the cause of so much death. Homelessness continues on and it is worse with a pandemic. Same with poverty. And somehow society has decided that it is acceptable because there really wasn’t any move to counter these things. Partisanship is at an all time bad – taking on the form of idolatry. Idolatry never ends well.
The Good: Adaptation. Living things adapt to their circumstances. And I saw plenty of adaptation throughout the year. Which means that there are plenty of people who favor life and living. I saw people step up and help neighbors and strangers alike. I saw people learn new technology – many who would never have done so without being forced into it. But they did it and they adapted quickly. I saw new thinking about church and faith – envisioning what church is about and how it is lived out. That is very exciting. I saw bold proclamation of Good News in the midst of fear and anger. I saw people standing up against injustice and not backing down. I saw that injustice being exposed for what it was – really ugly. I saw hope for a better tomorrow.
I look forward to 2021, not because I think the calendar has some kind of magic to make everything better. But because I know that I am not alone. There are a lot of others out there who see the reality of the world and have said – “Enough!” We aren’t going to settle for mediocre or the status quo. We aren’t going to settle for some domesticated faith that is flimsy and worthless. We aren’t going to shut up either. Because we know that waiting for those who maintain unjust systems aren’t going to change them on their own. So, we’ll help move things along. We’ll keep visioning and proclaiming. We’ll keep working to implement needed changes. And we’ll help each other up when we get knocked down. Because that’s the only really option I see available for 2021.