I’ve seen a lot of online pushback to the idea of New Year resolutions this year, and this is understandable. The weight of the world put extra pressure on a lot of people in 2020, and the last thing that they need is yet another task on their to-do list.

I decided to go ahead with my own personal resolutions because I am sentimental and derive a lot of joy from reviewing my year. I tend to do this for birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones as well. When I look back on my goals and dreams for 2020, I feel pleased with the growth that our family experienced in some areas, and a twinge of loss over some of the things we never got to do. We had begun to prioritize hospitality in 2019, and had big plans for inviting more people in our home. So much for that dream! I also find more room for growth in my personal attitudes and habits. So, I am scooting some of my 2020 goals forward to remind me to keep trying.

Lessons Learned

Three of the biggest lessons that have stuck with me from 2020 were to embrace stillness, embrace interruptions, and renew my mind.

Embrace Stillness

It is pretty ironic to go back and find my post from early January where I discussed my need to slow down! Last year provided a great opportunity for our family to practice stillness. We slowed down physically and socially as we stayed home, and I learned a lot about slowing down mentally in the process. My husband and I also worked on slowing down and meditating on the Bible. We had resolved to spend more time meditating on various Scripture rather than zooming through quickly. This practice paid off so richly in our relationship with each other, with God, and with the kids. This is something I want to continue focusing on for the coming year.

Embrace Interruptions

I was also focused on embracing interruptions, prompted by a book that I read in 2019. I recognized my annoyance when things don’t go to plan, and how this often leads me to impatience with those around me. Once again, this goal was one that turned out to be pretty ironic for 2020. Basically every plan was interrupted throughout the year! We all had to learn how to be more flexible and to show grace to others with different approaches. This is one of those goals that I am pushing forward to continue working on — I have a long way to go!

Renewing our Minds

As we’ve worked on meditating on Scripture this year, one theme that jumped out continually to us was that of renewing our minds. If there was one verse that kept coming up in 2020, it was Romans 12:1-2.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2 (NASB)

As we slowed down to read through the books of the New Testament, and read with a focus on renewing our minds, we felt a lot of growth. Of course we still have so much to learn, and so much growth that we would like to see in ourselves. But focusing on approaching the Scriptures humbly and curiously in the last year has been life-changing. We don’t want to read with an assumption that we already know it all. We want to keep growing and learning for the rest of our lives. What a joy!

Looking Ahead

As we approach this new year, I am filled with hope. There is still much uncertainty around the pandemic, the divided state of our country, and more. It’s difficult to make specific plans, and I don’t feel like we can take anything for granted. But the truth is, this has always been the case. Jesus told us 2,000 years ago that we shouldn’t focus so much on tomorrow (Matthew 6:24).

In our middle class American lifestyles, we had become complacent before 2020. We thought that we could just make plans for our lives, do the right thing, and those plans would come to pass. But we were trusting in ourselves and not in God. We were relying on our own job security, money, insurance, and “good habits” to keep our lives comfortable. It took a year of global devastation to wake many of us up to the truth we’d always known in our heads but hadn’t soaked into our hearts. We are not in control.

Allowing this truth to seep deep into my heart and soul has been deeply freeing. I look ahead to 2021 knowing that things will probably not go to plan. Even though I will make my lists and my goals and my dreams, I feel free to hold them a bit more loosely than I did in the past. I won’t be able to do all of the things that I would like to do this year, and I certainly won’t accomplish all of my goals. But I trust that even in difficulty and loss, God will bring life and growth. As He always does, and as He always will.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have [its] perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4 (NASB)