Happy New Year y’all! We made it through 2020 and are ready to start a new year. Sometimes the best thing about seasons is that they end. That can also be true for years like this.
The Bible tells us…
To everything, there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
This past year was historical, challenging, a bit scary, divisive politically, and riddled with caution. However, as I’m reflecting back on it, there is much we be grateful for. Moreover, there is much we can learn from it as we move into a new year.
We Need One Another.
I believe the biggest takeaway of 2020 is that we cannot thrive in isolation. We need one another.
I heard a message from Pastor Mike Rybka, where he spoke on our innate need for relationship.
Adam was the first man and in all the creation there was no suitable companion. Therefore, God created woman to be a suitable helpmate for him.
In his message, Dr. Rybka stated that Adam was not lonely because he was imperfect. Adam was lonely because he was perfect (made in the image of God).
Even God the Father is in relationship with His Son Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit. The trinity is the perfect example of the need for relationship.
I LOVE that! We need one another because that’s how God created us.
Getting Back to Family
During the initial shutdown back in the spring of 2020, so many things were taken from us and we all were forced to shrink our circles. It turned us inward to our closest loved ones.
I, for one, found that I cherished my family even more during this past year. In an effort to protect them, I reduced my circle but stayed in contact with them. Why? Because we felt it was better to stay together and love one another well.
The reward outweighed the risk in our humble opinions and we were mindful in our gatherings.
When we no longer have sporting events, movies, malls, restaurants, and bars, we learn old fashioned ways to connect:
- Board games
- Bike Rides
- Book studies
- And best of all, prayer
I think one of the things I said the most during 2020 was, “We still have the great outdoors!”
We Were Created for Community
I spoke with many different folks after a few months of the initial shutdown and all expressed that after months of isolation and preservation of physical health, there was a decline in mental health.
At that point, the focus shifted more on preserving mental health. And you know what? We can focus on mental health while still be cautious with our physical health. 🙂
I’m in recovery and having meetings online with folks who are struggling to stay sober, sometimes just doesn’t cut it. As soon, as our church allowed for socially distanced meetings, we got back to it. Why? Because recovery is about community and accountability.
God created us for community and we are one body with many members. While we can still serve online, it’s not anywhere close to our ability to serve in person.
Empathy is Triggered in Person
I don’t necessarily need a scientific study to remind me that my empathy is triggered much more when I’m face to face with a struggling brother or sister versus online. However, the studies are out there!!
For example, Dr. Helen Riess, author of The Empathetic Effect, states,
“Empathy is partly about shared feelings, and the root of that word was originally sympathy, which means “same suffering.” It refers to the fact that when we are in the presence of someone who’s experiencing an emotion, we actually pick up on that because other people’s emotions and facial expressions and experiences of pain are actually mapped onto an observer’s brain, onto our own brains. That is why we feel sad when we’re in the presence of someone who’s very tearful or sorrowful, or why positive feelings like excitement are contagious. There’s actually a neurobiological grounding for saying that “most feelings are mutual.”
Additionally, when Dr. Riess was asked about her writings on about modern methods of communication “erasing empathetic keys from our interactions”, she stated,
“When we communicate digitally, most often, we’re not seeing the person’s face with whom we’re speaking. We don’t see their posture, we don’t pick up on physical cues like facial flushing or maybe a misty eye or a little tear, or even looks of surprise or startle unless we’re FaceTiming, where of course you do see the face. In texting, email, and telephone conversations, we are missing out on many layers of how we understand other people’s emotional states.
I think it’s important to note that technology can also connect us; it’s not all bad. It’s very good in many ways. I think the danger is when it becomes a complete substitute for human interaction, and that’s what we need to watch out for. ”
Pretty fascinating stuff, eh?
While this year brought some A M A Z I N G things into my life, namely becoming friends with an awesome man, starting our courtship, and entering our engagement, I’m still happy to put 2020 behind me.
However, I’m taking these lessons learned in 2020 about our need for one another into 2021. We cannot sacrifice our mental health with the sole purpose of preserving our physical survival. We need to be careful to take care of both our physical and mental health.
Better yet, they can be done in tandem.
I need my brothers and sisters. We need one another so let’s remember that and keep working together in 2021.
BTW, I do plan on writing a post about our engagement soon so stayed tuned…