Looking back at 2020 might not be an easy feat for many people. There has been so much negativity surrounding that year not just personally but also globally. There were multiple disasters that trended the Google’s search trend such as the Australian Bushfires, floods in Indonesia and as well as earthquakes across the globe, Taal volcano eruption in the Philippines which I got to experience personally. And let’s not forget, COVID-19.
Looking Back to…?
The reason why I am writing this blog post more than a month late is because my mind goes blank when I think about 2020. I can’t say it was a terrible year but it was definitely painful in more ways than one. 2020 started off with quite an adventure for me, actually. In December, 2019 I flew to the Philippines to spend time with my best friends and in January 2020, I flew there again to witness a wedding of a different friend together with my brother. And that was when I got to experience a volcanic eruption. Read more about it here.
Then I traveled to Laos (Vang Vieng and Vientiane) with a very close friend to visit our dear friend, then we headed to Myanmar. I planned at least 6 trips International trips in 2020. But plans never come through, right? I’ve softened up about plans not pushing through over the years (thank You, Lord!). It would’ve been a very difficult year if I didn’t. Because when I got back from that trip from Laos and Myanmar, my family told me that my father was in the hospital. He was alright when I left. And that was also when COVID-19 was becoming more serious in Korea. Then a ton of my close friends left Korea, back to their home countries.
Looking past through…?
It’s really difficult having international friendships because at some point, they leave. And even though you keep in touch, follow each other in Instagram, it’s not the same. Despite having worked the issues of goodbye’s, it’s always difficult. There were tons of goodbye’s in 2020. Goodbye to friends leaving Korea, the passing of my dad, end of a relationship, and so on and so forth. When God impressed on my heart that 2020 will be a year of “New Challenges”, I was pumped and told Him to, “BRINGITON!” I shouldn’t have been so arrogant about it because 2020 hurt too much. But to the point that there is no denying there was so much growth.
I guess it’s about what we’re willing to looking past through for us to grow. I definitely didn’t go right past it nor around it. God led me through it.
One of the most integral experiences I had was going through therapy. Despite suffering from mental illnesses from at an early age, it was never severe enough for me to go to therapy. But came a point in my life where I had to and this was during mid-2020. Everything was just too difficult. And just because you’re Christian doesn’t mean you don’t need therapy. Do you not go to see doctors when you’re physically sick? And the church in general have become more open about these topics over the years. Even the used to be very conservative Korean society has opened up a bit regarding this. The world is changing and culture has changed so much.
Going through therapy, talking with friends, cultivating new relationships have allowed me to look within myself. Not that I haven’t over the years. But it meant having to know myself a bit more because I really don’t. It’s like being a teenager again going through “a phase” and getting to know who I am, whose I am and how I was created to be.
So I am leaving behind what I have to leave behind.
“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
– Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV)
Because that is the only way you can move forward. How can you move forward when you’re still holding on to the rope that is tied to the rock of what you need to leave behind? How can you move on when you let the weight of “shakable” things pin you down? And how, then, can you move forward if you drag the things you’re not supposed to bring along with you in the next chapter of your life?
Sounds so cliché, right? But ya know, if there have been new challenges, there must be new beginnings right? God can be cliché, but He is definitely more than that. And so I left my job of 7 years in January and have been unemployed since February. Though this is the first of the many new beginnings God has shown me this year, it was one of the most difficult.
New beginnings. Everything is so new at the moment that it’s difficult to look forward. (A perfect example of a future thinker in crisis.)
At times I wish I could fast forward my life. I dislike sitting through thrillers or a thrilling or even an embarrassing scene in movies. Experiencing prolonged waiting and difficulty has proven to be difficult. Moving fast forward in life has been something I always thought of even as a child. I truly hated going through many things I guess. But if I were to choose to fast forward through life, I won’t be able to experience not just the bad but also the good, beautiful, heart-warming, triumphs and breakthroughs. I can’t skip to the ending, that’s not how life was designed.
By the time November, 2020 rolled in, everyone was so excited for it to end. Everyone was saying goodbye to 2020 already. All people of the world started to list down how terrible their 2020 was and what their hopes were for 2021. Everyone was looking forward to 2021. It was to the point that I felt bad for 2020. We just wanted a common enemy to blame for all the mishaps and difficulty we were experiencing. How can we blame COVID-19? How can we blame natural disasters? Everyone thought 2020 to be cursed and hoped 2021 was for the better.
Then 2021 came and there weren’t drastic changes, yet. I wonder if people are already disappointed about it. Are you? But it’s only begun. How can we be disappointed in a movie that’s just begun?
This is all to say that I have nothing planned for 2021. People constantly asking me for my plans for 2021 but I really have none. My job and career? None as well. I don’t want to look forward to 2021, not because I don’t want to remain hopeful. I really do want to remain hopeful. It’s something I’ve been learning for quite a long time now. Looking forward to the future has given me hope at best and anxiety and despair at worst. If I’m afraid of sitting down in the moment and experience the year, through the good and bad, then what is the point of living?
So in 2021: I want to enjoy the present and remain hopeful for the future. I want to look back in 2021 with a more grateful heart than 2020. I wish to savor 불닭볶음면 (Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen) more rather than eat it really quickly because my tongue burns.
Enjoy the bad, the good, the falls, the picking-yourself-up, the breakthroughs, the tears, the laughter. Because from what I’ve learned in 2020, those are the moments that mattered most. God has brought me through 2020. Without Him, I would be nothing. Most probably in the worst shape ever. It was through His Grace that I am still breathing. And it is through His Faithfulness that I rejoice in life and remain hopeful. Everything and everyone will disappoint us, but He never does. We thought He did, but really, He never does. So keep walking, just keep walking, stay strong and see where He leads you in 2021.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
– Hebrews 12:1-3 (ESV)