• Debbie Salter Goodwin

What I Learned from 2020


Has there ever been a more tumultuous, more unpredictable year than the one we’ve just lived through? We all need to pat ourselves on the back just for surviving it!


We also need to do something else before we say our last goodbyes. Perhaps more than any other year, we need to dig below the inconveniences and incongruities to gather our lessons. If we treat this year as a loss, something to be buried rather than excavated; we do it to our own undoing.


What did we learn about our adaptability, our definitions of normal, and our expectations? What did we learn about where we put our faith and where we didn’t?

Before we get too used to writing 2021 and look at the clean, open pages on our calendars, take a long, hard look back. Who are you today that you would not have been without 2020? What lessons help you move forward with more faith, more self-understanding, more compassion, more listening, or more of anything that reflects what God wanted you to learn?


I’ll share my list to get you started:


1. Normal changes based on unpredictable circumstances.


I had to give up what I thought normal meant. I had to accept new parameters for it. Even as I tried to be positive about the differences, I knew I wasn’t. But I wanted to get there. I now understand that I am not in charge of my normal; but I am responsible for my attitude about it.


2. Political division and unrest does not predict my ultimate security.


If I learned anything, I learned how important it is to keep my anchor in the sure foundation God gives me through Jesus. Should the whole world unravel, it cannot take away the security God gives me even though it would surely push me off balance. I refused to join the negative rhetoric on either side. How would people see hope separate from anything politically derived?


3. God’s creation opens my heart to peace and restoration.

Never have I found such deep, emotional and mental recalibration than I did as I depended on getting outside and walking in the beautiful gift God set around me. It’s been important to me before, it was sanity-saving this year. God reminded me of His rhythms of seasonal change, color, growth, hibernation and how everything does have its season. I just need to stay tuned to the way that God’s creation helps fine tune my understanding and expectations.


4. I learned the difference between “rights” and “gifts” and where I had confused them.


I never imagined that my “right” to gather in worship could be taken away so quickly by something other than persecution. I never expected that my “right” to move unrestricted in my world could put me at risk. I never thought I would think twice about a hug or a handshake from people I knew. I had lived with them as “rights” that would always be there. But they’re not. They’re gifts. This forced fast from everything I treated like something I owned and had the bill of sale to prove it, uncovered the fragility of this fallen world in a way I had never faced. I can only hope that when these “gifts” return, I will savor them without taking them for granted again.


God has promised that in all things He can work for good. However, it happens only when we let God do the working together so that we see His goodness, hope, and heavenly perspective. That’s the way I want to start 2021. May it become your prayer, too!




pictures: Unsplash

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