I spent New Year’s Eve snuggled on the couch with my 8-year-old son. My husband had already gone to bed, and my teenaged daughter and her cousin giggled nearby on a pile of blankets.
It wasn’t the New Year’s Eve I had imagined … no fireworks and friends to toast 2021. No night on the town or special meals prepared. We used my phone for the countdown before giving hugs, wishing each other a “Happy New Year,” and heading to bed.
And it was exactly what we needed.
At this point, all of us would agree 2020 was a year of loss. Loss of jobs and a sense of security, loss of plans and a few dreams, loss of health and even people we dearly loved.
Some of these losses we’ll recoup. The jobs will return and the plans will be remade.
But other losses won’t be redeemed this side of heaven. And this New Year’s many of us felt the solemnity of that reality settle over our festivities like a heavy January snow.
Yes, friends—2020 was a year of loss.
But amidst the loss, there were wins.
I’ve heard people say 2020 was the return of family dinners. That was certainly true in our home as the pace of my husband’s work changed.
But we also had more subtle wins throughout the year: my daughter setting aside her work to help her little brother understand a math problem, little brother helping big sis with her chores, cards in the mail from good friends. And my brother and his wife welcomed their first child, a precious baby boy who has easily been the highlight of the year for our family.
My family wasn’t the only one celebrating wins in the middle of loss. Friends have shared how job loss turned into a fulfilling career change. How the time at home revealed unhealthy family habits they’re working to change. After their summer vacation plans were canceled, one friend planned a weeklong “staycation”—no phones allowed.
Then there were moments where God left us in awe. Like in the healing of a family friend whose daughters were called to the hospital to say goodbye behind a plexiglass window. As the details of her recovery spread, a non-Christian friend commented to me, “It’s a miracle.” In a rare moment, my friend was open to having a faith conversation.
And there were the stories of how despite the physical church doors closing, people reported their faith growing during the pandemic. Donations to charitable organizations rose, even surpassing the high numbers we saw after the September 11 attacks.
Here at FamilyLife, we weren’t exempt from the challenges of a pandemic either. We learned more about extending and receiving grace as we navigated the new normal together. It became apparent that while schools and office buildings can shut down, home isn’t canceled.
And we became a little better acquainted with each other’s homes (so many Zoom meetings) as we continued to trust God to use our small efforts to bring help and hope to hurting families.
FamilyLife in 2020
The wins? Too many to count. And each one invigorates us as we continue to trust God to use our small efforts to bring help and hope to hurting families.
Here are of few of the FamilyLife wins we witnessed in 2020.
The majority of our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways were canceled. But at the events that were held, more than 3,000 attendees declared their recommitment to their marriage. And 131 people let us know that during the weekend they chose Jesus as Savior.
One husband shared, “We were separated when the weekend started. Currently we are in counseling, but we were in crisis. This weekend helped us begin to finally move towards oneness. I never imagined the healing could begin. We finally have hope.”
FamilyLife Today® hosts Dave and Ann Wilson led a three-week Vertical Marriage study on Facebook. We hoped 500 people would attend, but God multiplied that number to nearly 7,000! One wife shared with the group, “This could not have come at a better time!”
Last February was also the largest Love Like You Mean It® Marriage Cruise to date, and in October, our first online-only Summit on Stepfamily Ministry saw double the number of attendees.
Onward in 2021
It’s humbling to witness God’s work in the middle of so many struggles. And who knows what wins this year will bring? Not us.
But we do know what the biggest win of 2020 of was: our eyes and hearts pointing back to Christ.
Whatever 2021 holds, may we all place our hope and trust in Him.
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Copyright © 2021 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
Lisa Lakey is the managing editor of digital content for FamilyLife. Before joining the ministry in 2017, she was a freelance writer covering parenting and Southern culture. She and her husband, Josh, have been married since 2004. Lisa and Josh live in Benton, Arkansas, with their two children, Ella and Max.