The Gift of 2020

Photo by Francesco Alberti on Unsplash

Let us not waste the graces of this year.


I have a calendar hanging on the wall of my kitchen. I buy the same one every year—one that features beautiful art each month that can be cut up at the end of the year and framed. As a result, it’s a bit of a splurge … so I wait until February and buy it when it is discounted. This year, I got busy and forgot. And then coronavirus came.

The other day I was standing in my kitchen and noticed my calendar was still set to December 2019. I just had to laugh—it was a sort of visible manifestation of 2020. I don’t know what you had expected 2020 to be like or what your plans for 2020 were … but chances are, the year has been quite different from anything you anticipated.

Later that day, I overheard someone comment that we should all just forget 2020 happened. Once December 31 rolls around, we can make a pact to just ignore the last year.

I disagree. And it kind of made me want to go get a 2020 calendar to hang on my wall. Because 2020 has been given to us. Regardless of whether it is what we wanted, it’s here. And it’s a gift.

To ignore the days we’ve been given—even if they’ve been a dumpster fire – is to ignore the opportunities God has given us for holiness. Each day we wake up, regardless of what awaits us, is a new opportunity for grace, for conversion, and for mission. What will you do with what you’ve been given today? Maybe you’ll be given an unexpected cross. Or maybe you’ll be given an unexpected joy. Both can be used to further God’s plan in your life. Both can bring you to holiness.

We have all had strange trials in 2020. There were days I wondered if I could carry the crosses I was being asked to carry. Each day seemed to bring something new. We were asked to go months without the Eucharist. We lost friends and family members, often unable to say goodbye in person. Those who live alone navigated months without personal touch and fought depression.

We can’t ignore 2020 happened. Perhaps it has brought crushing depression into your life. Maybe it brought the death of a loved one, loneliness, unemployment, or illness. Maybe you’re reading this after suffering from the coronavirus yourself, and you’re still feeling the effects. Or maybe you’re reading this after losing your job and you don’t know what next month will bring. Maybe you have found peace in this weird new reality, and you’ve been able to embrace the unexpected joy of growing closer to your family in this time.

God doesn’t cause suffering. But He permits it. And He is able to bring good out of it. Every single trial, cross, joy, and consolation of 2020 has been a gift. To ignore these gifts, to pretend this year didn’t happen, is to reject the ways we have been given to get to heaven. Even the darkest moments can be paths to heaven. There’s a reason we call that Friday on Calvary “Good.”

Suffering is an evil, a deprivation of the good. But a loving God always has a plan—even when we sin, even when there is disease or natural disasters or things He does not desire for us. He can order all towards love.

As Thomas More told his daughter Margaret, “And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.”

Let us not waste the graces of this year. Regardless of whether it is what we wanted, it is a gift. Each day is an opportunity to love, to grow in holiness, and to advance the kingdom. Let us be saints in 2020.


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About the Author

Joannie Watson

Joan Watson was born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, but college and graduate school took her to Virginia, Ohio, and Rome. After graduating from Christendom College with a B.A. in History and Franciscan University with a M.A. in Theology, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be part of the explosion of Catholic culture in the middle of the Bible Belt.

She has been blessed to work for Dr. Scott Hahn at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia at Aquinas College. She is presently the Director of Adult Formation for the Diocese of Nashville. She also serves as the Associate Editor of Integrated Catholic Life.

When she’s not testing the culinary exploits of new restaurants or catching up on the latest BBC miniseries, she’s FaceTiming with her eight nephews and nieces and enjoying her role as coolest aunt. She likes gelato, bourbon, and the color orange.

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