It’s much too easy to light a match, toss it over my shoulder with abandon, and watch 2020 burn.
There’s enough of that going on and with good reason—we’ve spent the past nine months riding the shockwaves of a pandemic, experienced the most heated and controversial political and social climate of our lives, and witnessed people toppling historical monuments, setting ablaze government buildings, and striving to rip one another apart—literally—in an effort to prove things and set things right somehow. It’s been crazy. It’s felt crazy. It’s broken my heart.
I will spare you my deepest musings on these things—that’s not what this blog post is about. Instead, I paused this morning to reflect on the blessings of 2020. That’s right—the blessings. My 2020 gift list.
I’d urge you to create your own 2020 gift list. And I’d caution you about lighting a match and watching 2020 burn, ranting about all the ways 2020 screwed you over. We all have a list like that. Meditating on negativity will only hurt you—emphasis on you. I know because I’ve done that. It is the least productive and most harmful way to live. And yes, there’s certainly the “We Hate 2020” bandwagon parading across social media right now. You’re welcome to jump aboard and ride as long as you like. I can promise you that it won’t make you feel good in the end.
However, if you take time to make a list of the year’s blessings and things you can find to be grateful for in 2020, you might discover that at least in retrospect, God has actually blessed you considerably this year. People have come through for you. It has not been all bad. And if you share your list with a few other people, you might encourage them to create their own lists… which might help them jump off that incredibly destructive bandwagon careening out of control right now around the corner into 2021.
Here’s my list.
- Getting COVID.
Yeah. I’m listing this as a blessing. That probably seems bizarre to some, but it allowed me to stop wondering and worrying what it was like. I felt relieved that it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined it might be (my case was moderate). In addition, as a writer, I gained insight into what it might be like to lose two of my senses permanently. My senses of taste and smell did return but not for quite some time. This devastated me temporarily. I also gained empathy for others suffering from COVID; I believe that because of the amount of propaganda and something almost like victim-blaming associated with acquiring and spreading COVID, there is a lot of shame attached to becoming ill, especially due to the isolation required while sick and while in quarantine. Being sick allowed me to contemplate these things and pray for others who were suffering.
I’m still suffering from some long-term side effects from COVID, but overall, I’m feeling fine and am still grateful for the chance to gain insight into the disease and into the suffering of others.
- Homeschooling my daughter.
I have never had “homeschool kid” on my bucket list. But like many parents, 2020 came with unexpected opportunities. This was one of them for me. I felt it might be best for my daughter if we homeschooled her, so I did it. There were ups and downs, and she’s returning to public school in January. I wholeheartedly do not regret homeschooling her for a semester, though. We gained so much quality time together, and she caught up on many academic gains she’d lost. It was 100% worth it.
- Publishing a book.
This is another item I’d never even contemplated until a few years ago. I wasn’t a little girl who dreamed of writing and publishing books, even though I loved writing. My whole life my mom dreamed of me publishing books! But I didn’t.
The COVID pandemic actually provided this opportunity. I sat around with little to do one Sunday afternoon, thumbing through old journals, and came across some poetry I’d written years ago. I discovered it was better than I remembered. Hmm… I should publish this someday.
The rest is history… About three months later, I published Hindsight 2020: A New and Selected Poems by Bethany Wallace.
- Introverting to my heart’s content.
Everyone who knows me well knows I love living in the woods, away from the hustle and bustle. I love the people I love, but I’m not a fan of crowds, traffic, or city mess.
Enter pandemic, “stay home” suggestions, and many businesses and industries closing or having limited interaction with the public. Most people flipped out. I, however, reveled in this change of pace (for the most part). Of course, I enjoy a good meal at a restaurant like the next person, and I don’t like strange rules or guidelines dictating anything I do. But I already work remotely and live in the woods. So having an excuse to avoid social excursions was GREAT . Thanks 2020.
- Starting a new online meeting.
In recovery, I’d been toying with the idea of starting an online meeting open to members from other groups for over a year. The pandemic made this essential, and I’m grateful for that. Now I meet online with other folks from across the world weekly, and it’s been such a fabulous way to strengthen my recovery while learning about others, too.
- Watching others gain awareness of sex trafficking.
I still do not understand why “Save the Children” became a thing in 2020. I don’t really care why, and I don’t need to know. I’m just grateful. People who I’ve tried to talked to about trafficking and child sexual abuse for years suddenly became aware and interested about these issues.
Of course, that trend faded away just like every other trend fades away. Sadly, folks who bought their cute #SavetheChildren shirts probably aren’t wearing them anymore… those of us who have been volunteering and advocating and working in this realm for decades didn’t buy the merch because we just live the life. We still are, long after the trend has faded. If you’re interested in connecting to learn how you can help children who are suffering across the world, I’m happy to connect you to great organizations or share information with you about child sexual abuse and sex trafficking and how you can get involved to make a positive difference.
This is my short list. There’s much more, but I want to hear about YOUR year.
Share your 2020 gift list with me in the comments.