The media at this time of the year often give us reflections on the past year and despite my personal peeve that 2020 is actually the last year of this decade, the reflections have often a decade perspective. You can find ‘the 100 photos that define a decade’ (not for children or the fainthearted!) – and many photos are repeated so you have a sense that many regard the image and the event as significant. The number of photos isn’t critical – they can change – but they all say that a lot has happened. I also listened to a podcast about the sounds of the last 10 years which was fascinating – news reports, interviews, music, sport, the sound of the moment, and much more. These past 10 years have seen natural disasters, war, terror, revolution, corruption, inequality, injustice, refugees, polarisation, and I’m sure you can add to the newsworthy list. It’s been tough.
On New Year’s Day I came across a tweet which had been reflecting on the last decade (aagghh!) but she said the following: “I live in the same house; I have the same number of kids; I teach in the same school; I even have the same husband; and I’m fine with all of that.” Many people supported her tweet, said similar things, or highlighted the ordinary progression of things – engagement to marriage – marriage to children – job to promotion – and it struck me that that such isn’t newsworthy per se for the media and it will be unlikely that she will feature in any photo collage. But that is a big part of living – the stuff that doesn’t get on the news feeds – the routines, the faithfulness, the ordinary, the happiness in the family, the security and trust of relationships, the natural progression of time.
For sure, circumstances crash in on us. Politics might plague us. People do things to us that are not good; that we don’t want to happen. We do things that we feel we must – a choice between two ‘bad’ options – or simply because we want to (and ‘damn’ the consequences). Such things might become part of the news feed. But there is also the reality that many days of our lives go right. The ‘bad’ doesn’t happen. The sun rises and sets. (However the phenomena known as ‘climate anxiety’ might be making that truth not so much a good thing.) Friendships endure. People are faithful and can be trusted. When disaster strikes there are people who run towards it to help. We are colour blind until socialised otherwise. Help comes. Kindness is experienced.
I know the world suggests that attitude or perspective or mindfulness can help us view and take control of living. I don’t know when it is helpful or wishful thinking or unhelpful when we generate the perspective from within ourselves. But that approach of viewing life, the news, the world, and other people from a particular perspective is a good one. That is why Jesus is also so helpful – because he gives us a world view to see everything – starting with ourselves (that we are loved). Jesus is a message to us; it doesn’t come from within us. We can hear it! Meeting Jesus and understanding him and what he does (and that can be really hard at times) expands our understanding of living today as we follow him. That is why wrestling with the Bible – Law and Gospel – and receiving again and again the Good News – is important so that we follow Jesus and not make Jesus say what we want him to say in 2020 and each decade. GS