I’m sure I’m not alone when I say 2020 has brought a lot of emotions to the surface. Anxiety. Loneliness. Fear. Doubt. Anger. Confusion. Insecurity. There are thought patterns I thought I’d grown out of years ago coming back. There have been nights of lying in bed and my brain can’t shut off.
And I wonder to myself – how will I see 2020 a couple years from now? Five years from now? 20 years from now?
It caused me to reflect on middle & high school. Let’s face it, even to this day those years were some of the most challenging in life. There’s even research to prove that’s true! I can’t clearly remember daily life – but certain moments are still crystal clear. (I also realized half of my life has past by since I graduated from high school?!) Even though I can’t remember all the specific moments, one thing I know for sure is those were the years when I grew tremendously in my faith and understanding of myself. This happened in the midst of, or perhaps because of, loneliness, anxiety, pain, confusion, insecurity and other difficult emotions.
But 2020 is a lot different from 2000. And I’m not talking only about the absence of denim on denim as a style (and that might be coming back in!). 2020 has a lot more noise. I wonder how different life would be for me if I was in my teen years now. In 2000, amidst my pain, loneliness and confusion, I’d go home and pour out my heart in journals to the Lord. I read my Bible. I prayed throughout the day in the quiet, lonely, desolate moments.
Yet today in those quiet, lonely, desolate moments, my first inclination is to fill the void. There is SO. MUCH. NOISE. My fingers itch after a few minutes to pick up my phone. I feel anxious about what’s going on in the world, so I read more news. I mindlessly scroll. It’s so easy to mindlessly scroll through life. But instead of that providing the rest and relief I need, it only feeds negative emotions.
Several books I’ve read this year address the theme of busyness. Each one has pricked my heart in different ways. So often I talk about how much I want to be present – but I don’t actually create the rhythms to be present. So often my soul feels weary.
I saw a recent 2020 meme that said, “Whoever is supposed to go to Nineveh, JUST GO ALREADY!” Although it was obviously meant as a joke, it’s come to my mind on several occasions. In the midst of all this chaos, the Lord says over and over again, “Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest.” Or the Message (which I’ve gained new appreciation for in 2020 says:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt. 11:28-30)
And yet time and time again, instead I’m drawn to more weariness.
I wrote many months ago about the ways we could grow through COVID. It’s so easy to forget what we know to be true. My hope is that in the future, I can look back on 2020 in the midst of the chaos and confusion, and see 2020 as a place where our souls were reset, where we saw light shine in the midst of the darkness, where we saw new movements for hope and restoration.
The Nineveh I’m called to in this moment might not be the other side of the world, but rather, the counter-cultural ministry of sitting with the silence and pain and letting God speak. The ministry of having eyes to see those around me and being willing to do the small things to bring about hope. And some days it might look like letting go of the sense of needing to control it all – and embrace the revolutionary concept of rest.
What do you hope to say you learned from 2020 one day?
 Some books I’ve read in part or entirety where this theme comes up include: The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry* by John Mark Comer, The Ministry of Ordinary Places* by Shannan Martin, Unoffendable by Brant Hansen, Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs, How to Break Up with Your Phone by Catherine Price, Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, Nothing to Prove* by Jennie Allen and On the Bright Side by Melanie Shankle. The * books are the ones I most highly recommend!