Four Ways to Find Joy in the New Year Amid a Pandemic

Well, it’s a new year. After the last few years, most of us are pretty cautious about what 2022 might bring. Certainly, life is filled with unexpected twists and turns. I mean who could have ever imagined that we would all be living through a worldwide pandemic and that it has now been two years since life was “normal.” In years past many of us would have set resolutions for things we wanted to accomplish in a new year. These days, however, I’m not too excited about doing anything new. I just want to get back to the old ways of just a few years ago. If you’re like me and cautiously peering around the corner to see what 2022 might have in store, here are four ways we can embrace the new year and look with anticipation towards the good things God has in store for each of us.

- Find a new perspective. When I was a kid, we had things called kaleidoscopes. On the outside they looked like a long tube of cardboard with covers over the ends. But when you put the end up to your eye, a whole new world of color and shapes appeared – and rotating the end created new and more amazing patterns and colors! Entering a new year gives us the opportunity to find a new perspective. Rather than looking at the outside of the cardboard tube, if we change the way we see things – a whole new world appears. For instance, a dear friend of mine’s husband died of a sudden death heart attack about ten years ago. A few years after he had died, she was getting more and more sad because each day took her farther away from him. And then God held up the kaleidoscope to her heart and showed her a whole new world! Instead of each day taking her one day farther away from her husband, God revealed to her that each day is actually bringing her one day closer to being reunited with him. She wasn’t leaving her beloved behind; rather she is running to catch up to him in heaven. God gave her a new perspective and renewed her joy in life.

- Spend at least 10 minutes in nature. Step out your back door for ten minutes and really look with wonder and amazement at the plants, trees, and creatures around you. Instead of seeing the weeds growing between the sidewalk edges, choose to laugh at the hearty determination of God’s creation to grow and thrive wherever it can. Notice the ants scurrying back and forth. Instead of thinking about how they’re fire ants and they’re going to sting you at any moment, choose to consider how they are all working together to take care and protect each other. And then quickly make sure they haven’t crawled into your shoes!

- Start a thankfulness journal. Each day write down at least one and preferably more than one thing that you are thankful for. I know that at times it can feel like there is nothing good happening in our lives, but that simply isn’t true. Sometimes we have to choose to see and acknowledge the good. If you’re having a gray, gloomy day and the weather reflects your mood, then write down that you’re thankful that even the weather knows how you’re feeling today. On days when you really can’t think of something to be thankful for, look back at your other entries and be thankful you’ve had those moments. Making a choice to see the good right now can help with looking forward to the good that is to come.

-Embrace the new journey before you. It is important to acknowledge all the losses we experience, whether big or small. Giving voice to those losses helps us to let go of the pain and embrace the new journey before us. For example, when a spouse dies, we lose not only the person but also a confidant, a support, a cook, an errand runner, and so many other roles that person filled in our lives. Take time to write those losses down and acknowledge each one, and then let them go. Choose instead to embrace all the new things you are learning and celebrate your strength in the midst of difficulty. One of the things I’ve chosen to embrace through the shutdown and pandemic is how incredibly flexible and creative we all are when it comes to learning new ways of doing things. Who knew we could all come up with so many ways to stay in touch when we couldn’t physically be together?

I hope you will join me in choosing to enter 2022 with confidence that God has good things in store for each one of us; no matter what happens in the world.

Let us prayer together this traditional Gaelic prayer:

May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, may the rains fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand. Amen.

Yours in Christ,

Joy Johnston,

Pastor of Caring Ministry