*Disclaimer: This post was written well into 2021, but is dated January 1st for continuity.

Happy New Year everyone! Today is the first day of 2021. Nothing has changed so far. COVID-19 is still here. Places are still closed. People are still wearing masks and social distancing. But…it’s a new year so the day has brought something important: hope.

As I am writing this post it is currently April, but I remember what the new year felt like. It was like the world took a deep breath and decided enough was enough. I don’t know about where you live, but in the last four months schools have gone to either all online or all in-person. The governor in my state has changed masks from a decision made by local governments to decisions made by businesses. Gatherings of 50 or more people are allowed again. And the world, at least near me, is slowly getting back to normal.

COVID-19 hasn’t won. It has changed our lives, but I honestly believe it has changed our lives for the better. We are more aware of germs spreading. We are more considerate of others when we fall ill. In fact, most large employers are requiring health screenings or at least temperature checks before beginning the work shift. We have been forced to slow down and spend time with our families. I bet that even with all the additional stresses of working and/or schooling from home and major changes to childcare, families have had the opportunity to grow closer. Adult children are contacting their parents more often. Families are sitting down to eat meals together. We are more aware of what our children are learning and how they’re being taught. And for those of us who hover, we’ve been reassured that our children CAN handle doing things without us.

So 2021 has brought hope. Hope that we will continue to grow stronger as individuals, families, communities, societies, and a species. I have hope that no matter what comes this year, that God will make sure we can handle it…no more or no less.

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