Lessons We Didn't Anticipate Learning in 2020

Updated: Sep 16


The last six months have been unexpected, to say the least.

Halfway through the year now, I looked back at my journal from January, my reflections, my musings, my goals for the year; it’s surprising to see where life was and where it is now.

Who would’ve thought that in January I’d be transitioning my kids to public school…only 3 months later to revert back to homeschool?

I didn’t expect that my work as an ER nurse would suddenly escalate my stress through the roof, or begin to feel so “high-risk.”

My seminary class on Spiritual Formations was in March. We discussed this quote, “I choose to live the life I did not choose. I plan to live the life I did not plan.” ...The next week, our province would be in lockdown.

Life shifted. Lego sets were rebuilt. Our basement got some renovations. The closets were organized.

We didn’t expect what we would learn from a pandemic, and, likely, we are still processing what we have learned, as the situation continues to unfold. As I’ve thought about it, here are 5 things I have learned, in a very tangible way.

1. The Elderly Need Company

As personal care homes were closed to visitors, elderly admitted to the hospital, grandparents put on quarantine, so they wouldn't get the virus, we began to see the depth of loneliness. Some of my patients would tell me that they would rather pass away from the virus, than to continue living without visits from their family.


The restrictions were obviously put in place, for not only their protection, but also the protection of others. It wasn't a decision made in ignorance, and I believe that even in the struggle, we saw creativity flourish in the ways families learned to connect with each other. Nurses set up iPads for video calls, drives were made to the hospital parking lot with big posters and signs. Obviously, this doesn't replace physical contact, but it was making the best out of a really hard situation.


It just reminds me, that even when my margin is small, there are still relationships to grow and develop, and to make the best use of my time to bless those around me.

2. Social Media Affects Us More Than We Admit

I am not someone who is typically prone to anxiety. But keeping up with COVID really threw me for a loop, especially at the beginning, and I began to see how easy it was for news and social media to get under my skin and impact my attitude...usually for the worst.


I began to check the news only once in the morning, and evening. I would glance through social media at that time too. But I became more aware of living life that was in front of me, than that on a screen. (Curious how that habit hasn't lasted as long as it could have).


3. The Luxury of Quarantine is for the Wealthy

Numerous remarks about how quarantine in developing countries wasn't happening. Judgements were easily made. But, many haven't stopped to consider that quarantine is really for the wealthy.


I mean, where else in the world could you not leave your home for a week and still survive?? It would mean you have electricity, water and a pantry stocked with food...which we, in the developing countries have access to.


In the parts of the world where this is not a reality, there is much more suffering associated with quarantine, which is why in many places, it is not a possibility.


4. The World is Not As Big As We Thought

In the beginning of the pandemic, I watched the red dots on the world map grow and spread. What happened in once province of a country, pervaded, almost easily across the globe.


In some ways, this shouldn't be so surprising. With air travel as accessible as it was, the movement of people around the world was simple and common. The countries that seem to be "way over there" suddenly aren't as far away as they seem.


5. Our Lives Were Probably Too Busy

I am guilty of chronic busyness; being productive, doing things. Part of it is my personality, part of it could be related to my ADHD-ish-ness. I sort of move like a pendulum from green means GO, to red means STOP; work hard, and play/rest hard. So, when life went into lockdown, rest is what we did.


It makes me consider balance. How do you "do" things you enjoy, while maintaining a healthy amount of time with family, and friends. It's been a prayer and consideration of mine lately, as August arrives and September draws closer.


Yes, in 6 months we have experienced a lot. I feel grateful for the reopening phases, and the freedoms it has provided us. As a family we've had some refreshing times in the outdoors this summer, where we could be normal, without having to follow any arrows or circles telling us where to stand.


In this unexpected year, we can still learn and we can still grow. God doesn't abandon His purposes for us when hard things come around.


If you look back to January, your own goals and plans, how have they shifted, changed or been redirected?


His purposes for us will stand. His ever present invitation for us to act for the glory of God and the good of others remains steadfast in the midst of change and uncertainty.


What lessons has God been teaching you this year?

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