As we say goodbye to “this thing we keep calling 2020,” it’s time — in the words of the infamous Ross Geller — to “pivot!” … time to pivot toward 2021, turning our attention to the new year and fresh slate before us.
Let us briefly review context. As said before, context always matters. Here’s the context — the backdrop, if you will — as we turn the proverbial page on the calendar. Last year, we walked through and weathered:
- Impeachment proceedings
- The COVID-19 pandemic
- The great mask debate
- Increased racial tension and awareness
- Ongoing protest and recurrent violence
- Sports without fans
- Two royals actually “quitting”
- A fractured political state
- A Supreme Court fight
- A contentious, national election
Suffice it to say: that’s a lot.
So as we consider our annual pivot, my processing centered around what we most need to address. I mean, I’m not a rocket scientist, but I don’t think we’re going out on too much of a limb here by suggesting collectively, we didn’t handle any of the above incredibly well…
… many of us talked more than we listened… sometimes we jabbed another (not even subtly) on social media… we called out those we disagree with… we refused to believe anything other than our established opinion… we tuned solely into CNN, MSNBC or FOX, which is never helpful… we broke relationships, lost friends, and made some things more important than people…
Nope, together we didn’t handle the events of 2020 all that well.
So what would have made it different? And what would be useful to employ generously in the year ahead?
Allow me a simple word; in fact, it may be deemed too simple. I contend it might be exactly right. What would have made 2020 different and be most necessary in 2021?
Rest. Individual rest.
I’m not talking about simply ceasing physical movement. I’m not talking either about a lazy Saturday or Sunday plopped on the couch with a good book, game or even predictable, thoroughly-enjoyable Hallmark movie. A real rest is a ceasing of our mental movement.
If I’m lounging in front of my TV but have one of those news sources listed above on, getting irritated at some other — as the station’s bias is made fully manifest — that’s not resting. If I’m quarantining, not leaving my house, but focused on and still reeling from the relationship that remains hard for me, that’s not resting. If I’m sitting there, even seemingly totally still, but crafting all my to-do lists, that’s not resting.
Resting is a mental rest. It’s different for each of us. What activities do you do that help you clear your head and gain perspective?
I’ve long found the ancient teaching to be profoundly fascinating — to be still and know God is God. Note the relationship between knowing him and stillness — resting, if you will. A mental rest means nothing else is competing for my thought and attention.
When a real rest is a regular, consistent discipline, we reflect instead of react. We think before we speak and typically listen more than talk. We also give more grace and space and ask questions about what’s hard or what we don’t understand.
In other words, if we would have individually rested more through the great mask debate, racial tension, and contentious election, etc., for example, we would have been less reactionary. There would have been fewer jabs, less calling out, more willingness to consider other opinion, and fewer broken relationships, recognizing things are not more important than people.
Hence, as we pivot toward 2021, let me advocate we each learn a little bit more what it means to be intentional in our rest. It may be vital. It also may be what we most need to address.