The year of the introvert.
I’ve heard a lot of ways to describe 2020, many more colorful than the next. And let’s face it, none of us were really all that sad to leave it behind as we welcomed the new year while praying—hard—that 2021 will restore every hope that was dashed in 2020 and then some.
I don’t particularly relish the thought of reviewing 2020’s illustrious list of hardships, catastrophes, frustrations, and pain. You don’t mind, do you? Not to diminish the realities of course, I’d simply rather focus on the positive for a moment. To that end, I’ve compiled a list of 20 silver linings that came out of the cloudy year, and perhaps a little inspiration as we observe the first Monday of 2021.
20. No need to make up excuses to get out of things. We all do it from time to time. If nothing else, 2020 kept us from the temptation to stretch the truth when we needed a break from social obligations!
19. More time to catch up on the things we’d been putting off. I don’t know about you, but my closets, cabinets, and pantry have never been so organized. My kids’ assorted memorabilia is now properly bagged in storage bins by year. I learned about advertising on Amazon, something I’ve been putting off for three years, and wrote more books this year than the previous three. What did you catch up on?
18. That TBR stack finally shrank. Or maybe you’re like me and discovered a whole heap of new-to-you authors and grew the thing instead. LOL! Either way, after my reading dry spell last spring, I changed what and how I read and devoured a whole slew of books! Did you? I’d love to hear about new lit-loves you discovered.
17. We HAD to learn new technology. Zoom meetings for school, work, church, volunteer work, etc. was just the beginning. Video chat apps became the only way we had human contact some days. For the less-than-tech savvy, this was frustrating but necessary and a pretty big victory (or so I’ve heard, lol).
16. Nature did its thing. Did you see those stunning pictures of the waters in Venice last summer? Or hear about the vast number of endangered and nearly-extinct species that saw reproduction booms unlike ever before? Reduced pollution in major cities even. And gosh, look at all the busy celebrities who finally had time to have babies (haha)!
15. We could finally get that pet we always wanted. I can’t tell you how many people I know who got that quarantine puppy (myself included). And it’s been awesome.
14. Getting out in nature became a pastime again. Even if it was just for a walk around the block. But for many, hiking, camping, or just driving through mountains, forests, or national parks became an appealing option once more. So did visiting the local public parks to toss a ball, walk the dog, or read under a tree.
13. Good news made the news. Oh, sure, there was still plenty of negativity, pot-stirring, and skewed information. But more than ever, we saw stories of people reaching out and doing GOOD, connecting creatively, helping out-of-work neighbors, and more. We got to see Zoom musical numbers and stars reading books aloud to little kids. I pray they will continue to give us more balance and that I’ll be less jaded about the media.
12. Lounge wear became socially acceptable in public. Sure, the trend has been on the rise for years. But now no one’s judging us for being too lazy to wear pants. I mean, we’re just running to the store comfortably in sweats before parking back on the couch with the next good book and a bag of chips, right?
11. It was easier to make positive lifestyle changes. Maybe not for everybody, of course, but I’ve heard from several people (myself included) who finally decided to take control of their finances, health, fitness, Bible reading, and other good habits. Now to lose those extra pounds that contradict this whole point…
10. Old, forgotten hobbies made a comeback. Many brushed off their sewing skills to make masks. Others learned to cook and bake or tackle craft projects. Artistic pursuits and finally writing that novel became a reality for some. Puzzles became cool again. And hooray for all the people who didn’t read much before now joining the book lover ranks!
9. We’ve learned that eyes really are the windows to the soul. None of us enjoy wearing masks, but we’ve come to appreciate the value of eye-contact and what those eyes are saying in a new way. Which leads me to…
8. We’ve become better communicators. Had to, really, relying on body language when faces are obscured. But also, we’ve become more socially aware of how our actions, words, and language affect others who don’t walk in our same shoes, and hopefully, become better, more compassionate communicators as a society going forward. Loving others as Jesus commanded requires us to do just this!
7. Acts of kindness are not only appreciated, but necessary. I’ve seen neighbors making grocery runs for the elderly or quarantined. Neighborhoods erecting lending library boxes. Strangers joking and swapping stories in line outside stores due to occupancy restrictions. Churches stepping up their food pantry and outreach efforts despite doors often being closed for services. What have you witnessed?
6. Compassion and empathy became a little more natural. Have you had one of those moments where you connect with a stranger—that feeling of solidarity that we’re all in this together? It’s amazing. As an empath, I thrive in those moments. I live for accounts of neighbor helping neighbor, paying good deeds forward, knowing we’re all going through a lot and giving one another grace. It’s easy to see when these moments aren’t happening, but when you choose to look for them, you’ll find them everywhere!
5. Jobs, and not just our own, aren’t taken for granted. With so many out of work for weeks and months, employment isn’t so easily taken for granted anymore. Neither can we overlook the sacrifices essential workers make in order to keep our world functioning—health care workers, essential services, food service workers, teachers, and beyond.
4. We had to get really, really creative sometimes. Kids visiting grandparents and great-grandparents through windows. Neighbors building candy slides and clotheslines for trick-or-treaters. Nursing home residents entertained with “deer hunts” (Nerf guns shot at antler-wearing staff LOL). Figuring out how to visit loved ones without traveling. Drive-by birthday party parades. Virtual proms and Thanksgiving Day parades. The list goes on for miles!
3. A fresh appreciation for TIME with the ones we love. It’s far too easy to get sucked into the day-in day-out routine. Whether we live with family, friends, or alone, 2020 has shown us how important it is we don’t take time with loved ones for granted. I’ll forever be grateful for the time I had with those who passed away this year, and I wouldn’t trade the time with my 3 teenagers all day, every day for anything. I’m aware how quickly they’re growing up and becoming independent, and 2020 gave me time to know them more intimately, for their relationships to grow, and for us to bond in a way our previously fast-paced life just couldn’t foster.
2. A new appreciation for the little things. Whether it’s an item on this list or something else you discovered, 2020 left a lasting impression and an inability to take things for granted, at least for a while (we are human, after all, and it’s inevitable we will forget).
1. Life still went on. Will you choose to bring the silver linings and lessons learned into this fresh new year?
Despite the heartache and heaps of negative things 2020 held, I’m left with an overwhelming sense of optimism as I seek out the silver linings and choose to find the joy after the mourning. It’s my fervent prayer that you will find joy, hope, peace, and the love of Christ shining through the dark places as you seek out your own silver linings. And that 2021 will be a year of restoration, filled with light and life wherever you are and whatever you are facing.