2020 is over (hooray!).

I know you’re tired of hearing about it, so we won’t dwell on the disaster that was 2020.

What I’d like to focus on instead is the endings in our lives–and what we do with them.

Usually when a year is over, we kindly (or sometimes harshly) look at ourselves. We list out our progress and our shortcomings and use that list as a way to improve in the New Year. We set impossible expectations for ourselves, and then punish ourselves halfway through the year when we fail–then punish ourselves again when a new year begins.

Whether it’s the end of a relationship, a job, your schooling, or a day on a calendar, how you deal with the ending may determine how well you start again.

In 2020 many of us have been met with many endings. I met the ending of a job this year. I know many others did as well. We saw the end of the school year too soon, we saw the end of big weddings, intimate parties, community events. Some saw the end of relationships. Some the end of health. Some the end of life.

What’s interesting to me is how we deal with those endings. I’ve never seen more people happy to see a year end than this one. It was such a bad year that it’s basically a meme. It’s an inside joke that will keep us laughing (and crying) for the rest of our lives.

The end of 2020 is like the end of a bad marriage or quitting a soul-sucking job. It’s both bitter and sweet. We’re glad for a new start, but looking back and thinking “what a waste!”.

Looking Forward, Moving On

So what do you do when you get to the end of an experience–good or bad?

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 is a well-known scripture, often used at funerals. Its lesson is one of comfort, patience, death, war and peace, grief and loss, beginnings, and endings.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up 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 together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast 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 for war, and a time for peace.

I urge you to think about what doors have closed, and what comes next for the rooms in your life. You might have spent a lot of time weeping in 2020, but have there been moments, looking back, at which you could laugh? You might have wanted to embrace, and needed to refrain.

Perhaps, what you need is time itself. Maybe what you need is to give yourself the grace to use your time to suit you.

Maybe you should start praying now for 2021.

Then take stock of what you’ve lost and what you have. Then use it for the better.