Ten. Nine. Eight. You hung in there as the last few seconds of 2019 ticked off the clock. You held your breath. A new year and a new decade were only moments away.
Seven. Six. Five. Four. You ran through the expectations you had of 2020 in your head. There were endless possibilities! You expected to walk into the new decade, overcoming obstacles, creating unforgettable memories, and achieving goals.
Three. Two. One. 2020 was here! But 2020’s challenges were nothing like any of us ever expected.
Overcoming 2020’s Challenges
Not only was 2020 nothing like what you expected, but there were also moments it felt entirely off the rails. The reality of 2020 was far different than your expectations. But you did it! You made it through the year and made it through all of 2020’s challenges, despite how difficult it was to hold it all together sometimes. As the year came to a close, instead of feeling optimistic, you may have felt exhausted and as if you were crawling to the finish line.
Were there moments this past year when you felt you were failing as a parent? Did overcoming obstacles feel like a moment-by-moment endeavor? How often did those challenges trip you up and make you feel as if you would fail? Did you feel defeated? Even if you thought all of these things, you had to pick yourself up time and again, dust yourself off, cling to God, and carry on. That’s courage, my friend. And you were brave. You worked so hard to hang in there.
The Realities of 2020
You faced a sudden shift in your routines and schedules. Places you once frequented sat empty under quarantine restrictions. Perhaps you found yourself at home all hours of the day with your spouse and your kids. And while you love them with all your heart, always being in close quarters was a tough adjustment.
You had to figure out how to effectively work from home and share the same space with your kids as they went to school remotely. Maybe your spouse was working from home with you. The Internet was slow, the noise level was loud, and you had to worry about getting your job done and keeping the kids on task. Childcare wasn’t an option most days. Cabin fever became a reality, and you had to figure out ways to get your children to burn off the endless energy they seemed to have. You had to get creative daily to overcome challenges of a new sort.
Perhaps you, your spouse, or family members were frontline workers who put themselves at risk to help others every day. The stress and exhaustion were sometimes crippling.
This year put holidays and celebrations on hold. Kids who graduated high school weren’t able to celebrate in the way they had planned. You had to deal with their frustration and grief while finding ways to celebrate their achievement. You stood out on the sidewalks or maybe took part in parades of cars driving through the neighborhood, honking, toting balloons, and waving streamers. Your vacation plans had to be altered or scrapped altogether. As the holidays rolled around, you navigated what it means not to be present with friends and family. You learned that presence is the best gift of all.
The inability to attend church for a time was difficult. You needed to cling to God more than ever in 2020. Yet, it seemed harder and harder to do. You and your family may have experienced anxiety and depression. You had to be on the alert for new mental health issues. Every day, you had to make yourself get out of bed and face the day. Sometimes you wondered, “What next?”
The pandemic may have put you out of work for a time. You were conscious of every penny spent and laid awake nights wondering how to make your budget stretch. Finding toilet paper and food on bare grocery store shelves was a challenge, but you got creative, overcame obstacles, and hung in there.
You may have faced illness yourself or within your family. You may have even lost a loved one. Grief filled your year in many forms, but you’ve kept your head up and continued to move forward.
2020 was a year of unmet expectations. You had to check your ideas of what parenting should look like at the door. You’ve had to encourage your children in ways you never imagined and gave them grace when they struggled to perform the way they should. You’ve had worries about the future.
But you handed that unknown future over to a known God.
With as many of 2020’s challenges as you faced, remember: you didn’t fail. As a parent, you had to have the courage to navigate circumstances that had never been lived in before. Parents, you persevered!
As 2021 comes rolling in, hang in there, parents! Yes, the coming year will have its challenges. But you’ll overcome obstacles one by one with God’s help. You will grow as a parent. You will find faith in difficult places and rejoice at God’s provision. With His help, you will be strong and courageous as you head into the new year.
Most importantly, you can face the year with courage and determination as you do every year. You may even be stronger and bolder because of 2020’s challenges. You can overcome any challenges that come your way. Hang in there, parents! You’ve got this!
© 2020 by Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.