To say that the year 2020 was tough is an understatement. To describe it as disheartening and devastating does not even come close, yet amidst the misery and desolation, there is still hope. Here are some things I learned this year that I hope to bring with me in 2021. To paraphrase what Mary Oliver once said, “We may be given a box full of darkness, but eventually, we will learn that this too, is a gift.”
- I don’t need more. It’s been nine months since the government put the nation under quarantine. I was given a lot of time because of it, only to realize that having more time is not the answer. Getting more material possessions is not the answer. Earning more money is not the answer. Being trendy is not the answer. Perhaps, the Genie from Aladdin said it best when he said that “there isn’t enough money and power (and time and material possessions) in the world for us to be satisfied.” And so, I learned that I didn’t need more. I need less, so I can focus on what truly matters.
- It’s okay not to be okay. We all cried more than we should this year, and that’s alright. It was said that we should preach the gospel to ourselves daily, and one of the ways to do it is to deliberately remind ourselves every day that we are forgiven and loved by God. Oftentimes, we must accept our past mistakes and be kind to ourselves. I, too, made some really embarrassing and bad decisions in my life, but I can’t let bitterness and unforgiveness eat me away. If you’re looking for a sign right now to cry and to let it out, then this is it. Go ahead, pour your heart out to Jesus and rest on the truth that He loves you still.
- I am no better than others. One of the gifts of social media is that it erases the wall that seemingly divides people living in different circumstances. Many people finally learned what it’s like to live in the shoes of others. And here’s another lesson I learned: it doesn’t matter if I am the most scripturally knowledgeable and spiritually gifted of all; if I don’t care, help, and love my neighbor, then I need to repent of being apathetic and stubborn.
- God is still with us. In the story of Nativity, we find ourselves standing in the same situation with the people back then who were also looking for hope a couple of thousand years ago. It’s a very remarkable thing that they did not find it in a throne or in the royal bed in a palace. Instead, they found him in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. The message is clear: hope is not some faint idea in a faraway place. Hope was among them. It was close, in fact, closer than the air they were breathing. That reality gives me assurance that God knows what I am going through, and there is light at the end of this tunnel. This is not the end yet, so I can trust that He knows what is good and He is still in control.
Some might say 2020 may not be our year, but the truth is, it is still the Lord’s. We may feel abandoned but we are not hopeless. Just like what Charles Spurgeon said, “I am with you always,” [Jesus’ words] will always be enough for our soul to live upon no matter what forsakes us. Therefore, we can bravely face the end of this year and say, “Thank you, 2020.”
Erikson Isaga lives in Taguig City with his wife, Michelle, and his toy poodle named Rocky. He is currently teaching at Miriam College Nuvali.