Treasures Among Trash

 If there was a collective attribute given to 2020, I believe it would be something like disappointing, unpleasant, grueling.

Hopes set in 2019 dissipated, goals became unachievable, dreams faded as weariness set in..  All the plans we laid out were run over like a soccer ball on an interstate.  “Mask up”, “In this together”, “Six Feet Apart” and “Ability to Pivot” became household phrases and even children were becoming experts in how to spell q-u-a-r-a-n-t-i-n-e.  

Never in my lifetime have I known so many who just want this year to be over.  And I understand.  This hasn’t been a highlight year for me either.  Many of us have felt moments of loneliness, anxiety, grief, and challenge in ways we never have before.  

And here we sit, in the 12th month of the year.  The wrapping-up of 365 days filled with events, goals, meetings, and growth.  It is the time of year that leads into the new and upcoming.  We fill pages with plans for the next trip around the sun.  Anticipation builds as we wait to close the door on the old and step into something fresh. 

I imagine only few years have rivaled this one in the communal desire for it to end.

And yet, I wonder if in the eagerness for the end we will end up missing something important.  If we rush to throw out the months of March-December, will the power of reflecting on this season end up on the curb as well?  Are we so urgent to clear out the rubbish that we are also throwing out jewels? 

In my previous job, I had the joy of sending people to work overseas for 2 weeks-11 months.  Some workers had experiences that were everything they could have hoped for.  Others were left disillusioned by all that occurred.  Some returned breathless, while others come home deflated.  In both situations, entering back to life at home was painfully difficult, especially without space to reflect.  Knowing the challenges our workers would face, we tried to help them carve out time to consider all that had transpired in their time overseas.  We knew this was critical to moving forward well.

After such a foreign and hard year for so many, I am that much more convinced for our need to be mindful of all that we have been through.  I relate to the desire to forget 2020 and just move on without looking back.  Yet in my experience, moving on doesn’t fully happen without acknowledging where we have been.  Moving forward is much harder when we don’t recognize the path that brought us here.

So before we set everything out for garbage day, may I challenge us all to put on the rubber gloves, do the dirty work, and sort through the pile.  May I challenge us all to find the treasures among the trash?

Here are some questions that can help:

1.     What hard things were unexpected this year?  How did you handle them?  How do you wish you had handled them?

2.     What were some unexpected joys this year?  How were you able to embrace or celebrate those or how can you embrace and celebrate those?

3.     Were any planned goals achieved, even if done so in ways different from expected?

4.     What are some hard lessons you learned this year?  What are some beneficial lessons you learned this year?

5.     How are you stronger because of this year?  How are you more vulnerable because of this year?

6.     What personal themes kept occurring throughout your year?

7.     What ways have you felt disappointed in God this year?  What ways has God shown his love to you this year?  

8.     What have you grieved this year?  What have you been thankful for this year?

May these questions act like long-handled trash grabbers that help you sift through the pile that is 2020 so you can move forward well with treasures in hand.

All photos are my own.

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