Advent Anticipation: Looking Back to Look Forward

by Jennifer Haynie @JenniferHaynie1

Recently, I received and e-mail notification from an organization I’m in to remind me to renew my membership. In it, the writer said that Merriam-Webster usually comes up with a word or phrase to describe the past year. Words it used for 2020 were ones like “lockdown, pandemic, furlough” to name a few. That made me think.

My word or phrase of the year? I borrow one from some morning radio show DJs: “Dumpster fire.”

Yep. You heard me right.

Dumpster fire.

I chuckle because it totally describes my year and prepares me to look forward to 2021 even more.

For me, 2020 began in a very challenging way. I’d been dealing with some scalp issues, and thanks to a very bad treatment suggestion from my then-dermatologist, my scalp got so irritated that I lost half of my hair. For guys, this may not seem like a big deal. For a woman? Absolutely a big deal.

In January, I stopped sleeping well.

Then came the pandemic. And the race riots.

Four hours of sleep a night, month upon month, nearly did me in, and it wore my body down

Pride had said I could handle it.

And then I couldn’t. I was sinking—and quickly.

But God provided a good counselor for me and new doctors who truly listened.

I spent the rest of the summer addressing the wounds dealt to my soul.

And my sleep problems.

But I learned so much as well. Here are five things I learned.

  1. God is always there. Too many times during the summer, I cried out to God. I didn’t feel Him near, thought He’d abandoned me. As I read His Word, both silently and aloud, I came to realize that He’d always been near to me, waiting for me to realize that.
  2. I’m strong in the broken places. Jars of Clay has a song called “Faith Enough,” and a careful listen to the lyrics reveals a series of contradictions. One of them is to be strong in the broken places. After this year, I’ve come understand the meaning of that. For too long, I’d stood strong in my own strength and understanding. That failed during everything that happened in early 2020. I was broken. Admitting my brokenness allowed God work in my life. I’m strong but only through Christ, who stands in the broken places and gives me that strength.
  3. I’m more flexible and resilient than I thought possible. If 2020 has taught me one thing, it’s that we can be resilient and adaptable as a people. We can continue to live and thrive, even under less-than-ideal circumstances.
  4. I was so full of pride. This one was hard to admit. I had pride—a lot of pride. God brought me through the hard times in 2020 to break me of that pride. And I’m prayerful that I will remember that specific lesson.
  5. Friends and family are treasures. As I struggled through the summer, friends and family became invaluable to me, both at work and outside of work. Family gave me wisdom. Friends prayed for me. And my boss supported me by telling me to take time off if need be. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that. The routine of work helped me keep my sanity, to be honest.

2020 may be a year we’d rather forget, but I think we can glean some lessons learned from it. Regardless, reviewing 2020 allows me to look forward to a newer, better year in 2021.

2020 may be a year we’d rather forget, but we may have learned some lessons from it that we can take into 2021. #Authenticity #Encouragement Click To Tweet

Question: What did you learn from 2020?

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    The Conversation

  1. Stephen Bostrom says:

    Dear Jennifer,

    What a year for you! But the Dumpster Fire burned away some dross so the God-made-you-in Christ could be revealed. Merry Christmas.

    My book has sold about 150 copies + 50 more author copies I purchased to give away. We’ll see how God uses it.
    Do you ever publicize the works of others? If so, would you want to highlight mine this year or next?

    Very Gratefully,


    • Jennifer Haynie says:

      Thank you for your kind words. Yes, God is burning away the dross. I’m very thankful that He never gives up on us.