The pandemic may not be over, but several parts of the world are reopening. After what will likely be the most impactful and devastating worldwide health crisis of our time, it’s normal to feel some emotion—including confusion—when it comes to returning to life as we once knew it. Read on for some perspective and a few practical tips about depending on God—and why it’s crucial as the world opens back up.
Reflection matters. We see it all throughout the Bible.
One of Jesus’ favorite things to do was share parables that wouldn’t make sense until after the work was finished. It was only after people lived through an experience that they could truly reflect on and appreciate the weight of the words Jesus had spoken. So often, it was only then—in the reflection—that they began fully depending on God.
So, what’s my point in all of this?
In the historic moment we’re living through, we can’t miss this moment to pause, thoughtfully reflect, and prayerfully move forward. Even if you’re tired of talking about it, even if you have topic fatigue, push through and know that real fruit awaits you on the other side.
And think of it this way: If God brought you to it, and He got you through it, He probably wants you to review it.
Here Are Some Questions for Reflection:
- What was the most difficult thing for me in 2020?
- Where did I feel the most lost?
- What did I find myself the most emotional about?
- What did God say to me the most throughout the year?
- What’s something I didn’t like about myself in 2020?
- What was the best part of last year?
- What do I wish could stay the same moving forward? What do I wish could change?
Be brutally honest with yourself—that’s how we learn! And now, read on for some ideas about how we can continue depending on God by taking what we’ve learned and actually applying it.
What did you learn? Remember: God often speaks to us in a quiet, unassuming whisper. So pay attention to that thought quietly surfacing in the back of your mind. It might just be something God wants to show you.
To help get your thoughts going, I thought it might be helpful to share with you some of my biggest takeaways from 2020. Sometimes I find I’m most inspired by hearing others’ experiences, so in case that’s you too, here are my main learnings:
- I found myself depressed when things like shopping, eating out, and being social were stripped away. I had to take a deep look at why that might be, and what things I’d made idols in my life. I realized that I’d been putting too much focus, too much priority, and too much weight on the things of this world that aren’t ultimately what matter.
- You don’t need anything in this world to have a relationship with God. You + God = a relationship. It’s not you + God + going to the movies. It’s not you + God + traveling. It’s not you + God + commuting to work.
Those things are rhythms and gifts created by Him, but they were never created for us to need or rely upon. The more comfortable we get, the less we need to rely on God. 2020 reminded me that I could do better at depending on God—and it wouldn’t be a bad thing to depend a whole lot less on the things of this world.
- Family is everything. If 2020 gave me anything, it was family time. I was able to spend so many more hours than usual working on my marriage, preparing to become a parent, and having deep, meaningful conversations. It reminded me of God’s design for a family structure, and it made me grateful that I got to re-experience my family in a richer way than I’d been used to.
I feel confident that no matter what last year looked like for you, there was something to be learned and something God wanted to teach you through such an unusual time.
So, naturally, I think the question is: How can we make sure to carry these lessons into 2021 and beyond? How can we internalize the wisdom, learn from it, and apply it in the future?
Three Ways to Learn From 2020
1. Don’t forget what you’ve learned. Take what you learned and put it in front of you somewhere. Pray about it. Make it a screensaver on your phone. Put it on a Post-It note on the fridge. Write it with a dry-erase marker on your mirror.
2. Pray for God’s renewing of your mind. God can make all things new. If you think He’s not bigger than your fears or anxiety, think again. He invites you into a relationship with Him. If you have kids, think about it this way: How does it make you feel when your children come to you and want your help solving a problem? We love it! We cherish it. It makes us feel special and trusted. How much more will we experience God’s love when we surrender our fears to Him?
3. Find accountability. In my experience, the quickest way to see a lesson lose its momentum is a lack of accountability. Tell someone you’re trying to grow in this area! Tell someone what you’ve learned. Point-blank ask them to hold you accountable. All you have to do is share your takeaway and how you want to change. Make a plan, and don’t keep it to yourself.
Another thing to note: grief takes place in phases. You might still be grieving and processing, and rightfully so. That’s totally valid and okay!
Here’s some encouragement: Don’t do it alone. Process what you’re feeling with a trusted friend or a LifeGroup. Look into counseling. And most importantly: pray. Involve God in your healing journey. His arms are open, and He’s patiently waiting to surround you in the comfort only He can provide.
It could be difficult for our brains to comprehend going into a maskless world again. Just think about it—for over a year now, we’ve trained ourselves that the safe and socially appropriate thing to do is to cover our faces. We’ve relearned body language, we’ve rewired habits, and we’ve redefined safety.
These things may have all even been unconscious! So how do we stay strong while embracing yet another change? How do we flip the script after being conditioned that normal was unsafe and dangerous? And how can we depend on God in the middle of it all?
Ideas to Help You Combat Feelings of Uncertainty:
- We are co-laborers with Christ. God gave us free will for a reason. So consider your options. Do what you can to protect yourself. Yes, we pray. But we also make wise choices. So, if you’re uncertain about what choices to make as the world reopens, ask God for wisdom. Seek out advice from trusted friends. Do your own research. And trust that God is with you, and He is for you—no matter what.
- Pray. This is incredibly important. Depending on God is key. If you feel anxious, lift that up to Him. If you’re feeling stressed out about being in public, remember that the Lord is your strength.
- Remember the hidden art of … wait for it … smiling. You know, that thing we all used to do before 2020 when we made eye contact with a stranger? Remember, if you’re maskless, people can see your whole face now. Smile! It will make you feel better and more confident. There’s even science behind it: The mere act of smiling reduces blood pressure, lowers stress hormones, and boosts your mood.
So, as parts of the world reopen, remember to apply what you learned throughout 2020. Take time to think about, pray about, and process how you’re feeling. And no matter what, remember that you’re never stronger than when you’re depending on God.