January 4, 2021 | By tj

Whew. What a year.

Whew. What a year. 2020 has been one of the “oddest” years many of us have ever experienced. This year we have suffered from the pandemic, racial divide, fallouts with friends over the pandemic and racism, the confusion of what the true narrative is in our country, and even the loss of loved ones.
Can we simply take a minute, to breathe?  To allow ourself the grace to understand that this year has taken a toll on us all?  Even in the beginning of the pandemic, many of us were doing well, yet over time we can all admit that this year has been mentally and physically exhausting for us all.
I have a question for all of you (us), how do you find hope during this? Or, can you find hope during this? And if we can find hope, how do we do so. I would like to offer some encouragement to us all
#1 practice gratitude. I’ve found when fear is loud, gratitude is often quiet. Matter of fact over never seen the two exist well. Often, either of fear or gratitude dominate, but both cannot exist in a healthy balance. Try a 30 gratitude challenge. Start everyday with things you are thankful for. For me, it looks like this, “God thank you for breath, for waking me up, for my eyesight, for blood flowing through my body, that I’m your son, and you desire goodness for me EVEN during the midst of a pandemic.”  This is just a few things that I’m grateful for.
#2 slow down. If you’re anything like me, pre-pandemic looked like “go, go, go, and go some more, and repeat the same thing over and over and over.”  One blessing that has come out of the pandemic was it forced me to slow down.  It was almost as if God was saying ,” SON, Sit down.”  When we slow down we learn how to be present. When we are present we can be fully alive. Use this time to figure out how to come alive again. Ask yourself hard questions about life and the meaning behind it. What kind of story are you living, what were you made for, and what makes you come alive. Once this pandemic ends, life is going to want to come at you again and make you a slave to business, will you let it?
#3 Get off media. Take breaks from reading the news where the agenda is to evoke fear, or who even knows WHAT the agenda is. Feel the freedom of what it’s like to think your own thoughts, and take the time to journal and pray, or mediate or take walks. Use this as a time to kill comparison, and to stop falling prey to the allusion that people are perfect on Instagram. Use this as a time to realize we are all imperfect people who struggle with fear, and anxiety, and at times can be hopeless…and allow that to push you to real relationships.
#4 Realize you’re helpless. Really Josh?  Yes, really. To me, being helpless furthers my reliance upon God, who I believe to be in control even when the world is chaotic. I can’t stop the virus, I can’t affect the chaos with the election, but I do believe that God loves me and still wants to bless me during the worst of times. Being helpless, fosters dependence, which leads to freedom. The Bible says cast all your cares and anxiety upon him, for HE CARES FOR YOU.
So friends. We at Neighborhood Hope love you. And more than that, God loves you. Some of Jesus’ craziest peace came in the midst of storms. We will get through this together, friends. We will get through this by staying thankful, and staying together. Here is to a crazy 2020, and here is to an optimistic 2021.
All of us from Neighborhood Hope, wish you a happy new year. We got this.