The last day of 2020. Wow. Who would have expected the year that we’ve had when we stood on the precipice of it last year this time?
To say that it has been a year of change would be an understatement. It definitely has been in our household. In addition to all of the changes that the world has seen due to the COVID-19 pandemic – my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I graduated from seminary, I resigned from my job at the Centre after almost 8 years, Katie and Eric got engaged and married, I started a new job.
Those are some big changes. Some of them we have celebrated well, others have been really hard.
I know it’s a bit of thing to start the new year with a word, a word that you’re going to focus on and take into the next year. I honestly don’t remember if I started 2020 with a word or not, but looking back on it, I think I’ve got one to end with – resiliency.
According to the dictionary, resiliency is defined as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to adversity or change.” In a class that I took as part of my degree at Briercrest, Dr. Magnus defined resiliency as “the capacity to bounce back (or better yet, bounce forward!) even when the valley is deep.”
Resiliency doesn’t mean that you’re hard or steely, or that nothing ever bothers you. It means that in spite of it all, you can still get back up. You can get back up, dust yourself off and keep going – keep moving forward.
During my final portfolio interview for graduation, this was one of the comments that I received: “You have very high capacity, energy and focus enabling you to bounce up, through and in a way that lets you live stress free or with high stress where many others would cave.” I am not going to lie – I read that and was so pleased. As an enneagram 3, as an achiever, that is literally one of the best comments I could have received. I was feeling pretty good about myself.
That was back in March. Fast forward a few months and these are not words that I would have used to describe myself as I dragged myself through the last few weeks at the Centre. I spent two months at home, taking some time off and returned to work, feeling ready to go, and then realizing that maybe I wasn’t quite back to 100% yet. A few full days last week had me pretty burnt out by the end of the day.
I am not loving this. What happened to high capacity, super resilient Monica?
Author Bronwen Sciortino writes about resiliency and notes that highly resilient people generally have the following common characteristics:
- are highly aware of their situation
- have really strong problem solving skills
- have the ability to see their role in the problem at hand
- are easily able to ask for help when they need it
Looking at that list, I can see where maybe I’m not excelling at a few of those – particularly the last one. Asking for help is definitely not my strong point, which then downgrades my strength in all of the other areas as well.
Why is asking for help so hard? For me, I don’t like admitting that I can’t do it on my own. I don’t like needing other people. However, I think the entire globe has learned this year that we need each other – we need community. As we hear stories of the devastating struggles and results of isolation, the whole world has been reminded of our need for other people.
That’s hard, though, when called to stay distanced from people. However, I think this is where resilience comes in – that ability to bounce forward. We have seen great creativity emerge from this pandemic, people finding unique and fantastic ways to connect. In the recognition of the need for community there has been an increase in intentionality, in reaching out to others.
I am grateful to be part of an amazing community of people who love me and my family, and this has been seen in extra ways this year. People checking in, extending concern and prayers, texts saying, “Can I bless your family with supper this week?” – we have been loved well.
Every single person has been created in the Imago Dei, the image of God, and included in that is the desire to live in community. We were created to desire relationship, just as we see the triune God living in relationship – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is something that I need to be reminded of often, because this tells me that I shouldn’t want to do it all on my own. That needing other people is not a bad thing – it’s how I was designed.
So as we wrap up 2020 and look forward to a new year, with its own joys and challenges, I’m looking forward to seeing our resilience, how we collectively “bounce forward.” 2020 has been a year for the history books and has marked each one of us. I hope that we can each look back some day and see how 2020 increased our resiliency, made us more aware of what really matters, and drove us closer to each other and to God.
Happy New Year, friends.
PS. The picture at the top? That is a picture I have hanging in my office, created by my talented friend Deb Firth. She creates these Rock Thoughts and then donates the proceeds to International Justice Mission – you should check them out.
Thanks for the positive note for leaving 2020! If nothing else it has been a time of change and learning!🙏💕👍
Beware the danger of toxic positivity, friend. Life also includes seasons in the wilderness, and it’s important to feel the pain, and not just seek the joy. Bounce forward, yes, but also allow sadness and brokenness their day. Sometimes, the reality that is is shitty. And God finds us in that season too. Whether we’re ready to pivot or not. ❤️