Welp, when I called 2020 the year of change last year, I wasn’t kidding. Though little did I know how much would change.
My goal for 2020 was to change. I wanted to change my lifestyle. I wanted to be healthier. I wanted to be more organized & scheduled. I wanted to be brave. I wanted to be Christlike. My word of the year was “Christlike.” My hymn was “Take My Life & Let it Be” and my verses were Gal. 5:24-26 & Phil. 2:15.
2020 turned out to be a year of change, all right. But it wasn’t what I expected. I changed. But I don’t feel that I really went forwards. I mostly backtracked.
I thought 2019 was the worst year of my life. 2020 saw that and laughed.
2020 started off with my anxieties about starting college and growing older. My 19th birthday was not a very good birthday. But January through March were, overall, good months. I grew a lot. I learned a lot. I got deeper in faith and love and God’s word. When the lockdowns started in March, I had very little anxiety or worry. Even in April and May, as things went on, I didn’t worry too much. Those were good months.
I started university in April and although it was hard, it was also really fun. I did a Grammar Lab for 3 months and then I began Copyediting I. That was tougher, but still fun. I love copyediting and it is totally my thing. I enjoyed my schoolwork, overall, and I liked my classmates. (I learned that while I really like having online classmates, I’m picky about my teachers and I have a hard time dealing with online teachers. Oh well.)
The events of June and they horrified me. I was terrified for my friends and heartbroken for the victims in everything. However, in June my writing group launched a Writing Camp for girls/ladies and that helped me so much. I was writing The Colour Red then and it really helped. It was a safe place to go where love existed and everything went the way I liked.
July was much like June, except that in July I began a friendship and then had that friend turn on me because she disliked something I did. My nightmare came true: a friend dropped me because of my actions. And because of that, a mutual friend of both of ours became very cool to me. It was extremely rough. Even into December I was worrying about it and wondering if I should have done things differently… even if I knew I couldn’t have.
In August, my family finally sold our house and were told we had 30 days to pack up and find, inspect, buy, and move into a new house. I was doing mid-term exams, and wasn’t able to help much, which resulted in a lot of guilt and anxiety. August was a rough month. I sent out my beta-copies of The Colour Red and, as usual, was crushed by the criticism. It took me a while to get over it.
My family moved on September 1, leaving the house that I’d lived in for 13 years. We loved that town, that house, that place. The new house and town was nothing the same. And when we moved in it took several months to settle down. It hurt. It was frustrating. I lost my swing, which was where I’d always went to relax and switch moods. We lost our beautiful yard. We lost the basement, where I spent a lot of my alone time. We lost all the trees and birds we loved. Practically all I gained from the move was a new room (and by the way, I hope I never have a basement room again. I despise basement rooms. Second floors are much better. XP)
In September I finished my second semester of college. I got a grade of 91%, which was a huge disappointment. I’d gotten 93% with my first semester, and with how hard I worked the second semester, I felt I was entitled to 95%. But I was sick and very tired when I wrote my exams, so it wasn’t surprising. But it made me very unhappy for a long time. I decided to take a break from college for the rest of the year. I was too tired and too stressed.
The bright spot in September was that we got to swim a little in our new pool and I loved it. It is unfortunately broken now though, so we’re hoping we can fix it so we can use it next year. XD
In October, both of my great-grandmothers died within a short period of each other. One death was unexpected. The other we’d been expecting all year. Our family was dealing with a lot of issues right then as well. My mother flew to be with her family for the funeral and stayed for a week, so I took care of my special needs sister a lot more than usual. At this point I was writing in The Colour Blue and I was recording/working through the events of June-July. It was an emotional and painful time. The book was hard to write and I was struggling very hard with feeling that my writing was terrible and totally worthless. The Writing Camp was happening again but it was a drain instead of a help.
November only deepened the mire. I grew very depressed in November. If you’ve read Colour Blue, you know how things went for Jay. Jay was me. More than ever before, Jay became me in the Colour Blue. I struggled very much with everything. I had nothing to look forwards to except worry and pain. I was miserable and overwrought and extremely worried and anxious. There was a ton of stuff going on.
December was a relief. I perked up and things got better. I finished The Colour Blue and sent out beta-copies. And that’s when a friend reached out to me and told me how much the two books had helped her. We discovered we were extremely similar and struggled with almost exactly the same things. So we bonded deeply and formed a partnership. Her friendship and help was a huge blessing in December and helped make it as happy as it was. <33 Christmas was different, but it was still happy and blessed. I took a hiatus from Instagram from the Christmas week to New Year’s Day, and it was really nice.
In the last week of December, I signed up for Copyediting II. But first, I had a breakdown while talking it over with my mother. We talked a lot and I cried a lot and she helped me figure things out. It was so good.
Looking back, it’s hard to remember what happened and how I changed. 2020 lasted for like three centuries, am I right? But here’s a small list.
When things got to their worst, I was crying out to God, “Why me? Why do I have to go through this? What have I done?” When things got tough and my friends got stressed and depressed, I was upset that I couldn’t help them and make things better. When another friend hurt me deeply by being insensitive, I wondered if it would be better to drop her altogether and allowed dislike to build into my heart against her.
But that’s where God was working on me.
I asked to be Christlike. But I was fairly certain I could do it. Being Christlike was being loving, right? And I love easily.
So God went to work to show me just how hard it was to love.
I learned that it hurts to love. It costs so much. It breaks you. It’s painful. It’s hard. Love is not easy. When you love, you are vulnerable and easy to hurt. Was it worth it?
Jesus loved. And it brought Him to the Cross. It caused Him the greatest agony.
I learned that I had to love. But that meant I had to allow myself to be hurt. It meant I had to be vulnerable.
I had to learn to break down the wall I’d built up between me and my friend. She’ll probably still hurt me. She has all our friendship long. But carrying a grudge and dislike against her hurts more than being friends and accepting that sometimes that means she’ll hurt me. And JESUS still loved the ones who hurt Him… over and over and over. People like me.
I looked back in over the year at various points and realized that I had to be broken. I’d asked to be broken. I’d asked to be able to love.
“If you’ve been following me for a while you know that in July I went through a really painful situation. I lost a friend, made people really mad, & was told bad things about myself. Although I saw good in the situation at the time, the scars were deep & remained. I still worry over that situation & wonder if I could have done it differently. I still wonder if I alienated someone else through it & lost another friendship. I still get extreme anxiety over similar situations. Although there was good IN the situation, I never thought that good could come FROM the situation. I saw how last year’s trials prepared me for this one, but never thought this one might be preparing me for something else. Until this Monday. As I was talking with a friend—really opening my heart wide open to her—I realized that the situation had broken me—& I’d needed to be broken. I want to help people. But to help, you must be broken, so that you can understand & empathize. I was broken for a reason. I was broken to be used. I was broken to be a help. I was broken for my good. I’ve clung to Romans 8:28 so much this year & Monday it suddenly came to life before my eyes. ALL THINGS, even those breaking, messy, scarring ones, are for GOOD. At that moment I was just praising God for the lady who hurt me so much & thanking God for that situation. “For [God] will turn their mourning into joy, & will comfort them, & make them rejoice from their sorrow.” If you’re going through a situation that is breaking you, take heart: all things are for good, & God will turn your sorrow into joy.“
I learned that to be Christlike was to surrender. Oh, I learned a lot about surrender in 2020. I wrote it all down in Colour Blue. That was my journey to finding peace. I learned that to find peace, you have to surrender to God.
“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about TRUST. Trusting God—what does it mean? As I look back on what I learned this year, & what the Bible says, I conclude that trust is COMPLETE BELIEF in God, despite the illogicalness or impossibility. Despite all the seeming evidence that He’s not doing anything. Despite all our own fear & anxiety. Despite everything. Trust is complete BELIEF in God no matter what. It’s that hard, and that easy. But the more you study about our God, the more you realize how TRUSTWORTHY He is, and how powerful He is, and how He always turns everything to good, and how He works things out in ways we could never imagine. If we’d just really surrender to God & be willing to be used by Him to bring Him glory & so bring others to Him, I think TRUST would be a smaller issue. Because surrender is trusting that HIS plan is far better than ours, and that HIS way is much lovelier than ours, and so placing ourselves unreservedly in His hands. Trust & surrender go hand-in-hand, and with them come true peace & joy.“
I learned how to find joy & peace in 2020.
God just reinforced the lessons of 2019, much harder. I look back and I see that all I suffered in 2019 was to prepare me for 2020. And all I went through in 2020 is preparing me for what He has ahead.
I’ve learned that Romans 8:28 is true in every. single. circumstance.
I learned that I can’t earn anything. I didn’t earn salvation. I can’t earn God’s love. I can’t earn His favour. I can’t get to where He owes me or has a debt to me. It’s all grace. It’s all Him. I am nothing.
And with that I realized that it’s “not I, but Christ.”
Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted; not I, but Christ, be seen, be known, be heard; not I, but Christ, in every look & action; not I, but Christ, in every thought & word.
Not I, but Christ, to gently soothe in sorrow; not I, but Christ, to wipe the falling tear; not I, but Christ, to lift the weary burden; not I, but Christ, to hush away all fear.
Not I, but Christ, in lowly, silent labor; not I, but Christ, in humble, earnest toil; Christ, only Christ—no show, no ostentation; Christ, none but Christ, the gath’rer of the spoil.
Christ, only Christ—no idle words e’er falling; Christ, only Christ—no needless bustling sound; Christ, only Christ—no self-important bearing; Christ, only Christ—no trace of “I” be found.
Not I, but Christ, my every need supplying; not I, but Christ, my strength and health to be; not I, but Christ, for body, soul, & spirit; Christ, only Christ, here & eternally.
Christ, only Christ, ere long will fill my vision; glory excelling soon, full soon I’ll see—Christ, only Christ, my every wish fulfilling—Christ, only Christ, my all in all to be.
It’s not me who comforts, it’s Jesus. It’s not me who fixes things, it’s Jesus. It’s not me who’d perfect, it’s Jesus.
I’m not supposed to be perfect. If I was perfect, I wouldn’t need Jesus.
In other words, 2020 ripped my character apart and showed me all my flaws and showed me where I had to change and how I could change.
2020 changed me, all right. The question is, can I move on, or will God have to teach me this all over again?
I guess we’ll see.
So, I’m not sorry 2020 happened. It was needed. It was for good. And there was still a lot of good in 2020. I read a lot. I wrote over 167,000 words in 2 novels and a novella, and I don’t know how many words in blog posts and instagram posts. I took lots of pictures. Made lots of friends. Had lots of fun. If you want a more in-depth recap, here’s one I wrote for the mid-year.
But overall what sticks out to me in 2020 is all the lessons I’ve learned.
God helping me, they won’t be in vain.