So You Want to Be Done With 2020?

Danielle Carey

It's finally a new year! Phew! Isn't it crazy to know that we lived through a year that will be in history books? 

If you're anything like me, you want to move on fast and leave this year behind in the dust.

It’s easy to want to move on, to look for better things, to push away the sadness and disappointment this past year has brought. In fact, “Christmas” was a trending search beginning in August. 

But Christmas is over. It’s a new year. And what if things don’t change? 

You might have hoped entering 2021 would feel freeing, like a weight off your shoulders. But what if you’re carrying things into 2021 you don’t want to bring with you? And what if there are things you’ve learned that are good for you to remember moving forward?

How do you heal without ignoring how this past year changed you? 

The answer: debrief.

Why Debrief?

What are you carrying into 2021 that you do or don’t want to bring?

Have you ever debriefed an experience? It can feel a little strange remembering the good and the hard times, the joy and the pain. 

Jesus died on the cross on Friday and rose again on Sunday. For three days He borrowed a tomb. You likely celebrate Good Friday and Easter, but what about the second day — the day when Jesus was gone, the day the disciples wept, the day hope seemed lost?

That day is rarely remembered. Why? Because it’s too sad. It’s too much.

And yet everyone experiences those same feelings at some point.

Loss, loneliness, despair, death. It’s easy to want to skip past these feelings, but they make up so much of who you are. You may prefer to skip from Friday to Sunday, but you will miss out on the healing you can experience when you sit in and process everything, including that sad Saturday. 

Matthew 11:28 (New International Version) says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” 

Psalm 130:1-2 (English Standard Version) says, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O LORD, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!”

Matthew 5:4 (NIV) says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

If you feel weary, discouraged, or angry, tell God. He is the Father who comforts. And that comfort, that peace that only God can give, will heal. You can sit in the difficulty knowing that Jesus, in His good timing, will rescue you. 

When you are remembering and feeling all the emotions this year brought, you can look forward to seeing Jesus’ face.

Can you imagine the joy, freedom and excitement Jesus’ followers must have felt when they saw Jesus alive again? Their sorrow vanished in an instant. Because they first acknowledged their grief, they were fully able, even welcomed, to feel the comfort of Jesus. 

When you are remembering and feeling all the emotions this year brought, you can look forward to seeing Jesus’ face. You can have hope that He will meet you, that He will turn your weeping into joy.

So what did you experience in 2020? Did you walk through disappointment? How did that make you feel? How were you changed as a person? If you’re anything like me, you probably feel overwhelmed by questions like these. 

Before you start to debrief, there is something very important to remember. 

You are not meant to do this alone. 

When you enter into hard conversations and relive difficult moments, invite someone to walk alongside you, to help ground you in truth. A friend or mentor can help hold you steady and remind you to look forward even as you look back.

How to Debrief

Here are some ways you can begin to debrief your story and move on to the next chapter with another person by your side.

  1. Create a timeline 
    1. Get creative! You can draw, use words and phrases or whatever will help you best remember your last season.
    2. Once you have a rough draft of your timeline, write down the paradoxes you’ve seen. A paradox is when two different realities exist at the same time — for example, experiencing both joy and pain. While 2020 has brought many hardships, what were some encouraging things that happened? Where did you see growth?
    3. Once you’re finished with your timeline, share it and have an open discussion with a trusted friend.
  2. Listen to your body. How has it responded to stress? How can you care for yourself?
  3. Name your losses (big and small). Name your blessings. Reality is your friend.
  4. Make a list of things you want to bring into 2021. Then, make a separate list of things you do not want to bring with you moving forward. 
  5. Find something to memorialize this past year with. This can be an image, an object, a metaphor, an aspect of God’s character, a word, a poem, a song, or whatever will help you remember. Here’s mine:

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, 
and in His word I hope; 
my soul waits for the LORD
more than watchmen for the morning, 
more than watchmen for the morning.”

Psalm 130:5-6 (ESV)

Next Steps

  1. Debrief 2020 by using one or more of the ideas above.
  2. Find someone to process with by connecting with a local Cru movement.
  3. Find someone to mentor you as you process.
  4. Do you lead a local campus movement? Download this social media pack for content you can share with your students!


Debrief content developed by Sandy Trzcinski who co-leads Staff Care for Agape Europe.

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