What Has 2021 Taught Us?

"old way" and "new way" signs pointing in opposite directions

What Has 2021 Taught Us?

We all feel the weight that the last two years have had on us. This year, I think, however, we are seeing things differently than we have before.

The end of December brings a time of reflection for us all. We look back on the year and see all that God has done, what we have accomplished, or what we have failed to do in the past three-hundred and sixty-five days.

I love to take the time to sit down and take stock of what has happened in the last year. Not just events or accomplishments, but mental and spiritual health, family relationships, and so many other things. 

Reflection allows us to find new direction. 

In the last few months, I have had so many conversations with people who talked about the challenges of the last two years and the struggles that have taken place. We all feel it, I think. We all feel the weight that the last two years have had on us. This year, I think, however, we are seeing things differently than we have before. 

2020 brought us to a place where we adapted to our circumstances, and 2021 opened our eyes to where we have coasted through our lives. 

There is a great deal that 2021 has taught us. Watching people online and listening in conversations, I think most of these are collective learning experiences for us all: 

1. We have lost sight of who we are. 

It may just be me, but I don’t think it is. You may laugh, but there was a time before Covid when I put on real pants every day, did my hair, put on makeup, and made an effort to look my best. When Covid happened, my motivation for trying went out the window. In a way, I have forgotten who I am, what I love, and what normal looks like. Towards the end of 2021, I began to realize this truth and made a commitment to getting dressed (not in pajamas) every day, fixing my hair, and remembering who I was before a pandemic came into the picture. 

2. We need to be more self-sufficient. 

I cannot begin to say how many times I went to the store in the last two years only to not be able to find what I needed (like toilet paper), but also, there may be times when being out in a crowd isn’t ideal. This year we planted our very first garden and asked questions of all the gardeners we know and learned what we could. Being self-sufficient means that we don’t have to rely on a store for all of our food or supplies. Getting to know your local farmers is also a great way to become more self-sufficient by going straight to a supplier rather than the store. 

3. Excess isn’t necessary. 

In the last two years, there are many things we learned we could live without. Being busy all the time lost its appeal, having more was no longer necessary, and we have found joy in less. More isn’t always better. We did learn that more time with our people matters, more of doing what we love matters, and the extra stuff can just fall to the side. 

4. Our faith walk is more important than ever. 

It doesn’t take much to look around and see the darkness our culture lives in. Any time we turn on the news (if you even do that anymore) there is nothing good to be said. There is so much discouragement and life is hard for most people we know. Now is the time to cling to faith; we need our hearts and minds focused on Christ and the truth of Scripture. While every day we need faith and truth, it is more important than ever that we hold fast to what is good. 

5. Stressful jobs are no longer worth it. 

People are leaving their jobs every single day, for most, it is because they are tired of the endless demand, stress, and hustle. Employers are having to keep up by making jobs fully remote, compensating employees better, or filling gaps where employees are leaving. All of the time at home plus the demands now placed on workers have employees raising the flag and quitting their jobs. This has been a season where we are taking stock in what matters and stressful jobs no longer fit on that list. 

6. Our mental health is crucial.

This might be one of the biggest lessons we have learned in 2021. Our mental health matters; for too long, many of us have swept under the rug the struggles we have faced mentally. For some of us, the anxiety has become so great that it has defined most of our lives for the last few years. 2021 has been the year of asking for help and taking charge of our mental health. We have begun to acknowledge the weight that has been left behind by everything that has happened in the last two years and we are ready to take back our mental health.  

Every year comes with lessons, but I think this year especially we are learning to come back from the struggle that overtook us in 2020. We are trying to make sense of our new normal and regain some of what we lost in the process. 

For me, this year has been a process. I didn’t really begin to unpack any lessons from this year until these last few months. The fog of it all has started to lift and for the first time in a long time, I feel like I can see the light. The hope that I have clung to has pulled me out of the darkness and kept me focused on Christ. 

As we near the end of the year, I challenge you to sit down and make a list of what you have learned in the last twelve months. But not just what you have learned, but make a list of the things that God has done in your life, reflect on His goodness, and rejoice in His faithfulness. Take those lessons and actions of God in your life and carry them with you into the new year. 

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/phototechno

Michelle Rabon is a wife and homeschooling mom of three who feels called to help women thrive in their walk with Jesus every day. In 2012, she started Displaying Grace, a ministry that is focused on helping women engage with God’s Word. Michelle has also served in women’s ministry for the past five years seeking to equip women in the local church through Bible study. When she is not writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, being close to the ocean, and drinking a lot of coffee.

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