Honestly, 2020 wasn’t even my worst year. That year was 2014 when I lost three babies to miscarriage. The months of that year seemed to drag on and on like nothing before. 2020 was bad, I know that, but for me, I can’t say it was the worst. In fact, I think that the coming years, maybe even this year will challenge and rock me more than last year did.

Our next-door neighbor, who may or may not have been (but was most definitely) inebriated at the time told us, “2020 was just a dress rehearsal, 2021 will be the real headache.” He didn’t elaborate but instead cautioned us to stay strong as we entered this new year and to not lose sight of what we had learned.

As we entered 2021, I thought a lot about what he said. 2020 was the dress rehearsal, 2021 will be our real challenge.

I pray that it will be nothing like my 2014, and I am not alone. Most of us would like to think that this new year will make up for all the bad things that happened and I really do hope so but if not, if 2021 proves to be even more difficult, what have we learned last year that can help us make the most of this year?

Maybe it is that nothing is permanent.

There is no job, status, friendship, or life even that is permanent. So for 2021, embrace impermanence. Things change and we will rise to the occasion. We will appreciate what we have and rally our resources and make the absolute best of it all, for as long as we can.

2020 taught us to listen carefully and judge wisely.

From the ever-changing news reports to conspiracy theories to the panicked whispers of family and friends. We have been tossed to and fro with information overload. In 2021, can we reserve judgment (and panic) and process information more thoroughly before coming to a conclusion on what we believe?

Last year, we all learned to appreciate the strength of relationships.

Some are built tough and persevered across time and space. Birthday parties and weddings via Zoom allowed us to remain close though so far away. Other relationships crumbled under the weight of quarantine. Moving on, may we nurture those relationships that endure while learning to let go of the ones that do not. Sometimes relationships break and the real lesson is learning to let go without anger or bitterness.

Because we couldn’t go out, we learned how to follow recipes and cook meals.

Many of us attempted meals that we have been too intimidated to try before and were pleasantly surprised. We didn’t spend as much money eating out and we learned some great skills along the way. So this year whether locked down or not, can we keep following recipes instead? Our wallets will thank us for it.

We learn from our kids, about resilience and faith.

If you are like me, you spent last year surrounded by memes about how awful homeschooling is or about how crazy our kids are. But we have seen how wonderful and resilient they can be as well. Can we learn to be able to make new plans the way kids do in this New Year? To just go with it and know that it will be okay. To have that kind of faith is a beautiful thing.

Knowing loss the way we do, it is easy to get caught behind the curtain of darkness. But we also have experienced the bright shining light of hope – whether the joy of our rainbow babies or finding the strength of a community.

We understand more than anyone else that joy and sorrow are often found together. I pray that 2021 is kind to us all. But, if not, if last year was indeed just a dress rehearsal, I hope that we all step out and put on the best show that we can. That we sing and dance, cry and survive as loudly as we can. I will be cheering for you, and I know that you will be cheering for me as well.

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