2020… it’s been a year! For me, 2019 and 2020 have felt reminiscent of 2011 and 2012. In 2011, I had a breakdown that could’ve led to serious professional help. Thankfully, God got ahold of me before I needed it. In 2019, I was dangerously close to another breakdown. In 2012, I grew closer to God than I had ever been and found my place and my people in the world at Compass Church SA. In 2020, I grew closer to God than I ever have been and learned to let go of my place and people in the world.
I spent seven years of my life as a tween and teen craving love and acceptance. I tried to please everyone. I tried to be whom I thought they wanted me to be. I’m still not sure who “they” are, but it was no one in my life. When I was eighteen, literally on my birthday, I had a come to Jesus moment and realized His opinion of and love for me were all that mattered. Just before I turned nineteen, only after I learned to cling to God and only care what He thought of me, He led me to the people who would love and accept me the way I always longed to loved and accepted. Flash forward seven more years, I was forced to let go of the people who loved and accepted me. I didn’t get to see them for six months. I didn’t get to sit next to my best friend every Sunday morning at church. I didn’t get to linger in the building that was not and is not the Church but does feel like home. I had to walk the walk and show with my actions what I said with my words—I love the Giver more than the gift. If the gift is taken away, then I will still cling to the Giver. And here’s what I learned in 2020. There is some truth to “If you love something, then set it free.”
I went out of 2019 and into 2020 with two goals—trust God and choose courage. Two of my best friends are named Shelby and both of them have helped me with these goals. Shelby the younger is adventurous and outgoing. She has taught me if I want to do something and there’s no legitimate reason not to do it then I should do it. Shelby the older is chill and confident. She has taught me if I don’t want to do something and I don’t have a legitimate need to do it then I don’t have to. If I think something will keep me or others safe, secure, or comfortable, I do it. I follow the rules. I stick to the status quo. I even make my own ridiculous rules that I “have to” follow. Or at least, I used to. In 2020, I learned to do what I want to do and not do what I don’t want to do. It’s been freeing and in freeing me it’s given me what I need to be courageous and trusting.
At the cusp of 2019/2020, I read “Let’s All Be Brave” by Annie F. Downs, “Live Fearless” by Sadie Robertson, and “Get Out of Your Head” by Jennie Allen. I also kicked off the new year alone in my bedroom worshipping with Passion Conference 2020. It is my firm belief that I only thrived in 2020 when the world was falling apart around me because I chose courage and worshipped my way into the new year.
I also firmly believe that I thrived in 2020 because the only thing that saved me 2019 was learning to rest. God taught me (sometimes while I was kicking and screaming) in 2019 to practice Sabbath and create margin. He continued to teach me that in 2020. Because I had margin and celebrated Sabbath in 2020, the hard things in life didn’t hurt as much. I had more clarity to make the right decisions. I was able to hear God speaking to me more than ever before. 2020 wasn’t much different for me than the years before. It was still financially straining. I’ve still had to rely on others more than I would choose to rely on them. I still had moment when I was fearful, anxious, doubtful, and skeptical. Those moments were fewer and farther between though. They didn’t last as long because I’ve been well-rested enough to combat those lies with truth. I was able to breaks and journal. I learned to trigger positive reactions in the same way I learned to prevent triggers for negative reactions. I truly hope 2020 has taught others to do the same.
Until a couple days ago, I had no idea what 2021 would be asking of me. I didn’t have a clue what God wanted me to focus on 2021. Usually, I know at least a month in advance what tools I’ll need in the following year. Before the other day, I thought I’d be going into 2021 still choosing courage and trust. And I will be, because that’s not something I’m just going to stop doing. My main focus will be forgiveness. I’m not sure why, because I felt like I dealt with that a couple years ago and again last year, but I guess I’ve still got some things to learn. I’m going into 2021 reading and journaling “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget” by Lysa Terkurst. And when I did one of those goofy Facebook generators asking “What’s Your Word for 2021?” I got forgiveness. Seems fitting since I’m reading that book and still learning to let go of things that I don’t want to hold onto anymore.
I’m also going to kick off 2021 the same way I kicked off 2020, with Passion Conference. Because whatever happens next year, just like I wrote on my bathroom mirror last year, I want to say, “God whatever you have planned I’m ready.” It seems to me kicking off the new year with worship rather than explosions is a pretty great plan. It worked for me last year and I’m sure it’ll work for me this year. If you choose to and are able to celebrate with fireworks, then I pray you are safe and happy. I pray you have blessed and restful 2021. I pray the Lord will restore the year the locusts ate from you this year. And I pray John 10:10 over you. The Brittany Alexandria version saying, “Jesus has come that you may live life to the fullest, seize the day, carpe diem, yolo!” Because the word He used in the original Greek was “Zoe” which means the future spiritual life AND your present physical life. We don’t have to worry about the future. We shouldn’t let it come without some planning, but for the most part we should be living in the moment. We should be living life without worrying about tomorrow “for today has its own concerns.” So, let’s do it. Let’s go into 2020 letting go of the chaos of 2020, choosing courage, and reaching out of our comfort zones! Happy New Year!