Let’s face it: 2020 was a difficult year, and we are ready for a better 2021.
COVID-19 wreaked havoc on our lives. We went from a booming economy to great uncertainty almost overnight. We have seen illness, death, job loss, social unrest, increased anxiety, a bitter presidential election, and a loss of normalcy in our lives. We are grieving over many things, including the sense of security many thought we possessed. But the truth is, the only things we can control are our own actions and attitudes.
As we turn the page on 2020, I think we should seek to live out Jesus’ #1 commandment: to love others. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul defines love, the verb, in his eloquent and famous verse. Today, let’s focus on some of the highlights of his passage—being patient, kind, and trusting.
Be Patient: Have Self-Control in Difficult Situations. Paul says that, “Love is patient.” And from what I have observed this year, many of us could be more patient, especially with our words. It seems in 2020, it was difficult to have constructive conversations with those of opposing views and opinions.
However, let’s remember that disagreement does not have to equal conflict. With our words, we have the power to stop the negative dialogue that is so prevalent online and off. Let’s return to constructive dialogue. Remember to listen more and talk less (there is a reason we have two ears and only one mouth!). Engage in discussions that seek the truth, always try to find common ground, and in the end, be respectful.
Be Kind: Show Encouragement and Enthusiasm. My mother taught me that every time we come into contact with people, we can make their day better or we can make their day worse. Why not make it better? In fact, research shows that the human brain needs five points of encouragement for every point of constructive criticism in order to stay encouraged. Unfortunately, we seem to remember the negative more than the positive.
In 2021, let’s be more encouraging to family, friends, and those around us. Writing notes of encouragement or saying kind words will not only make the day better for others—it will brighten ours, too!
Be Trusting: Place Confidence in Someone. Years like 2020 make it harder to trust, period. It is harder to trust our government leaders, to trust the future of our society, and even to trust God.
If you struggle with trust in God or in the future, try to keep a broad perspective in 2021. The Bible says there will always be wars and rumors of wars, and people will say and do bad things. I would encourage us all to remember there have been many times in history that seemed to have little hope. The Revolutionary War went on for seven endless years with no hope in sight until things started to turn. The Civil War seemed like a hopeless loss of life with more than 600,000 casualties. To people living through this war, it appeared it would never end.
We must remember God is in charge. Reminding ourselves that He is always with us will help fill our hearts and minds with love and acceptance, not anger and frustrations. Isaiah 58 teaches us that if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. We will get through this, and there is light at the end of the tunnel!
We all need a bit of hope moving forward. Although we can’t have certainty over what will happen, we do have clarity in how we are called to behave: to love God and love others. I encourage you to be patient, kind, trusting, filled with hope. Putting these words into action will give us hope for 2021, because the love Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 13? It does work.