How has 2020 changed you?

We have touched on this before, but thought it might be interesting to revisit as the end of the year nears. The pandemic, the politics, and just plain time has left its mark on me, for both good and bad. The hairline is a little higher, the joints a little more stiff and painful, the skin a little thinner and more barnacled. Friends have died of a disease some still deny as significant. The biggest negative changes to me at this point have been a bit more depressed mood, and finding it more difficult to see humanity in a positive light. Some that I respected I now look at with disdain. Perhaps I now lean more to the Calvinist idea of total depravity. I do not like that part, and find no joy there.
On the positive side, we have seen brave and noble sacrifice by health care workers and community volunteers, and genuine care shown towards the less fortunate, so perhaps there is hope for humanity yet. I think the whole experience has given me a broader perspective. Rather than focusing on today and our short and fleeting existence, I see our experience as a tiny episode in the broad sweep of history, and find an odd comfort in that.
What about you?

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The year’s events have tempted me (too often successfully) to indulge in biting judgments against neighbor, colleague, or friend whose politics are not like mine. I’m still in the process of learning how to maintain those necessary and desired loves in tension with anger - not so much anger directly at them as with the organized-powers-that-be that are preying on the earnest integrity of my friends and playing them with lies. But honesty compels me too to look in the mirror and realize that my own passions don’t look at all different from theirs, and even if my own echo chambers may be bigger or more reality-based than theirs are, they are still echo chambers of my own too. I am learning to hold on to both love-of-truth (hatred of dependably-false conspiracy mongering) and love-of-relationship with all these people so near and dear to me. It’s not that this is some suddenly new challenge, but 2020 has brought it out into stark relief like never before in my lifetime.

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Thanks for this. It is such a temptation to consider my situation to be the worst–and that’s a worse temptation to lose perspective. This is much better than, say, World Wars I and II, or the pandemics in the past. We have so much to be grateful for!

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For me I guess this year was not really any different than other years. I changed a few things. It was odd not going out to eat , not even through fast food drive thru for over 9 months. It took a bit more planning to move away from larger jobs requiring 6 people all on top of each other to spreading it out to 2-3 men crews that could have more distance between them. So instead of building a 24 foot long section of wall it started dropping down to 12 foot sections at a time before running the top plate. The amount of people , at least in Alabama, that confused stay at home orders for literally not leaving their home at all was amusing and opened up hiking trails. I met people about literally believed biking down a back country road and hiking was going to get me arrested lol. I was like no, I’m quite safe being miles away from people by myself.

Outside of the death toll from covid and the constantly flooding of social media and news with covid stuff this was one of my more favorite years. With so many businesses shut down, with the beach shutting down and they banning beach rentals for a while it opened up owners wanting lots of punch lists knocked out and so work sky rocketed. With less people out and about and more businesses shut down their was less traffic and less movement in general and we saw wild life coming back a bit more than normal. With less people in general heading out , even into nature for whatever reason, it made hiking more enjoyable and kayaking was a blast with almost no boats at the beach. My fiancée , in China, ended up being laid off for two months but I covered all her bills and with that free time we were able to talk a lot more and watched more shows together. Since a friend of mine owns a gym, and the gyms shut down for a while, he and I use to head in and lift a lot more since he could not actually open it.

It was interesting seeing extremism and hypocrisy spread. Like I knew some people who really went to extremes in how they acted about social distancing , like saying me and others of my congregation should not meet yo even though it was no more than 30 people and we were actually like 10 feet apart but those same people complaining would go to drive thrus and hand off their debit card to some teenager who would take it and a hundred others in half a hour and never wash their hands because they were wearing gloves. I also saw the opposite end of things from people who showed no consideration about the virus at all. They stupidly took pride in not wearing masks, bought into bizarre conspiracy theories and I even saw racism against Asians kick up at various times. The extremists on both sides seem to really kick up.

I see some talk of eco chambers and trying to be more considerate and less angry towards idiotic people.I did the opposite. Those who showed zero concern over the virus and others and went around without a mask and made it a “good ole’ boy” thing i cut them out of my life. The gas stations and places where they put up “ must wear masks to enter signs” and then constantly told everyone they don’t care it was a mandatory sign and openly pushed for people to know it’s “safe for non maskers” to enter I stopped shopping at. I now drive to another gas station because of this. Stores that would not turn people away for not wearing masks or even question them I stopped shopping at. I was really surprised by how masks suddenly became this politics issue. I’m not looking forward to the heighten political contention around the vaccines.

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Another weird thing in my experience was to see vaccine conspirators shift. Now manny, it was the more liberal democrats that I was running into that was paranoid about vaccines and if something was organic or not.

The conservative Republicans were the ones who seemed to not care if something was organic or not, and never complained about vaccines.

Then suddenly lots of conservatives I knew started going off on vaccine conspiracies and feeling out over what may be in them.

Since God is of the same character as He always has been, I believe I see Him involved in the affairs of man as usual. I tell my customers when it is brought up, that I don’t necessarily look at the deaths involved because of the virus. I am more concentrated on the judgment that is involved with the virus, judgment not necessarily meaning condemnation. Throughout history, God has brought judgments on people, rulers and nations. Sometimes the intent is to destroy, sometimes to discipline so that they would repent and other times a purging.

For the unbelievers, God can use this situation to wake them up to their mortality and those who are humble may repent. He can show them that their trust in the ways of this age are building on a foundation of sand. None of their gods can save them. The chaos that has come upon the nations is very much like what God has done in the past. He rises up and puts down both rulers and nations for His own purpose.

For the believers it can remind them that this world is passing away and that they should not get caught up in its pleasures and put there hope in it. He can turn them back around if they receive the discipline.

I have wondered for a long time when God would bring some type of judgment on this nation for the wickedness it is involved with. Sexual perversions, killing babies, lying, theft at all levels of society, arrogance, lovers of self and pleasure, involved in all the works of the flesh. He has been merciful and waited for awhile to allow this to happen.

Heb 12:7- Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

The judgments of the Lord are just and pure, turning a man from sin if he humbles himself before them.

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I’m sorry you’ve lost friends. :frowning:
I too am having a hard time holding any respect for some people who are either spewing ignorance on social media or taking pride in a disregard for basic care for others. (I’ve unfollowed a lot of people, which is better for my mental health but also makes me question whether I’m just creating more of an echo chamber.)
I feel like so much of evangelicalism has been ripped open this year and the insides are very ugly. I’m afraid I won’t be able to get rid of the distrust and disappointment I hold in my church right now, that ignored the mask mandate and is now riddled with Covid cases.

On a different note, as cold weather closed in, and especially being in a cold part of the country with short days, I decided I needed to commit to engaging in movement every day, aside from just walking – dancing, moving to music, jogging in the basement, whatever it takes to channel some of the residual stress into something physically meaningful.

I keep thinking about one of my favorite Mr. Rogers quotes, where his mother told him to always “look for the helpers” when anything sad or scary happens. There are so many people who are stepping up and doing things for others, even putting themselves at risk, and that’s what I should choose to dedicate more brain space to.

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I will find it hard to know just how it has changed me until it is over. Mostly I see far fewer people now, none of the senior crowd at the Y and none of my gardening friends. I haven’t seen my stepson or my brother or his young family in quite a few months but we’re both looking forward to changing that when we can. We were meeting in the garden occasionally but found that very unsatisfying. I talk to the folks who opened the cafe next door when they open in the morning -from a distance, both masked, and are somehow still hanging on. For a while we had a newly widowed friend over once a week but that stopped after she drove a few hours to see her very senior mother with a couple other relatives. She still comes to work in the studio with my wife once a week (both wearing masks) but now when we eat lunch together it is in the garden at a distance and only on a nice day. We look forward to more regular social interaction, but we’ll have to see how that comes together.

We’ve lost four friends this year though none from covid. Their loss is sad but their memory sweet. I think of it as being in the autumn season of life. All the leaves will fall eventually, my own included, and many of those i know. In fact, I wither. My knee needed replacement but that has been such a blessing. So much better than what I’ve had for the last five years. Walking, gardening, stairs and all activity is better now. But in addition to covid hair I’ve also put on extra covid pounds. I suppose I should be grateful to still be able to eat in these conditions … but why did I have to eat so much?

I forgot to mention this part. Just this past Friday my wife and I walked the younger dog at our favorite San Francisco beach. A faster guy but no younger than ourselves walked past us without a mask. He said nothing to me but apparently felt the need to taunt my wife about wearing a mask. Something about having the courage to be free. She and I talked about having the courage to care about others and look out for each other. The less I think about these encounters the better. It has also been a wedge in my family, though not with any who live near by. But my only sister and I will have a hard time picking up where we left off before this. I’ve always had to allow for her ignorant, hateful prejudices but now it is worse.

Sorry @Laura, I got gabbing and never addressed what has obviously been very hard on you and @jpm to see in your churches. I can appreciate how disappointing that must be when you embrace this group as almost family and then they fall so far short. But of course they like my sister are fallible human beings. Neither being my family member or your fellow congregant insures that we won’t see the same variation of the species. I liked your Mr Rogers quote. I refuse to get upset by antimaskers when I can look for the helpers, and there are many here. On a side note in arguing with anti theists I’d always hold up Bill Moyers as an example of a good, reasonable Christian anyone should be happy to have as a neighbor. After watching the Mr Rogers movie Bill has competition. But many of you are right there with them, yourself very much included.

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That would be angering. The man talking about freedom to your wife. Handled it better than me. One of the quickest paths to see a more in your face violent aspect of me is to taunt someone I care about. I’ve gotten better in a lot of areas but that’s one I still struggle with. I think maybe I mentioned it months ago. I was in a gas station and this older woman who was clearly drunk, could smell it on her breath, wakes up to me and tapped me laughing and asking , “ does she have to be 6 feet away from me or am I’m normal “ and I just ignored her. Her husband, or i assume, was there and was laughing. Started saying some random things about masks snd blah blah.

I bought my stuff and left to get my gas and I saw them get on a motorcycle. I left and like a minute later they sped up and passed me. It’s only a 2 lane road and they ended up getting behind someone and was slowed down and part of me wanted to ride their tail uncomfortably close but I did not. I’ve met a handful of people, normally in gas stations, where they would make comments about maskers out loud.

A few weeks ago I went for the first time to a restaurant. It said masks required when entering snd when robot at your table. But while in there, people were walking around with masks and the tables were supposed to be one full one empty but people were just waking to sit wherever they wanted. See tons of people walking around stores with them hanging off their mouths and people claiming they have medical issue and will die if anyone asks them to provide proof and so on. Tons of losers. Ironically I went to a bar also 2 weeks ago and in the bar everyone not at the table was wearing a mask and with a exception of a few people everyone was 2 seats apart. Which is roughly 6 feet.

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That is perhaps one of the hardest things. Like you say, there is a lot of good that took place also, but the response of some in the church was and is discouraging, not only to Covid, but racism and overlying it all was the political stuff. Between those things and the changes necessitated by social distancing, it will be interesting how things will fair. I certainly have problems with the idea expressed seeing Covid as God’s judgement, but may we may well face judgement for our response.

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Creation of social bubbles or ‘echo chambers’ is an old phenomenon. I guess most of us (all?) are somehow guilty of it, even without the help of the bubble-forming platforms of social media. This year has been somewhat disappointing as it has driven people apart. Yet, I hope we could humbly participate in the discussions with people that have differing opinions.

In the history, social bubbles have sometimes lead to civil wars. Within a bubble, the news and rumours about the other group are typically negative. The negative rumours tend to lead to a vicious spiral where those belonging to the other group are increasingly seen as unreasonable, dangerous and finally, as a bit less valuable than those within our group. At the point where the others are seen as less valuable, a bit less human, civil war is a realistic possibility. Giving a humble, respecting face to those with differing opinions may act as a counterforce to the vicious spiral.

Blessed are the peacemakers…

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Something that I am in constant need of remembering this year (…and from reading some of the above, it appears I’m not alone) is this:

You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.

-Anne Lamott

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That’s true… it’s not a new thing. I think there are ways in which social media/the internet has perhaps made them more grow faster (people in rural areas can now access massive groups of discontents rather than just blowing off steam with local friends), but there is also the possibility of opening people up to others’ perspectives that they would not otherwise have encountered in their own community. I spent years in the YEC echo chamber anyway, so I’m hoping I can at least put that to use by remaining aware of some of the dangers of controlling/disregarding information.

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One of the good things that I see is the constant reminder all around us of this bodies mortality. Just about every place you go there is a sign or a voice over the stores speakers telling to cough in your elbow, wash your hands often and stay 6 feet apart. Its like they are saying, “Your going to die, Your going to die.” What a good message to remind people of. Its helped me to think about it more and helped to increase my resolve not to love this life that is so fleeting and is passing away. Praise God for the reminder.
Also, if you ever get in a face mask conversation its easy to change it into a turning from sin conversation. “How come you wear or dont wear a face mask? Well, really I am more concerned why peoole continue to sin against God. Getting the virus will only kill your body, but sinning against God will cause you to be thrown in the Lake of Fire.” A good way to be an ambassador of the Kingdom and exhort people to repent.

Love the thoughts, jpm…even the part about the barnacles!

Isn’t it interesting that a year whose moniker --2020–should have meant “perfect vision” threw us all for such a loop? No one, this time at the end of 2019, could have anticipated such an upheaval. So much for the 20/20 vision that we thought we might have!

INSTEAD: The level of distrust, mythmaking, name-calling, complete breakdown in the social contract (such as that ever is) in some instances has been unsavory, even at times reminiscent of historical events earlier in the 20th century that did not lead to good things. At times, in my opinion, some of it smacked of someone taking advantage -and, near as I can call it, has bordered (nay, crossed the line INTO) the influence of the demonic.

We cannot blame it all on “powers that we cannot see,” of course. And there have been some good responses. But “the Calvinist idea of total depravity” is not a bad concept…although that can be seen any year in most workplaces anyhow.

As for how it has changed me — it has given me a sense of the unexpected being only a silly millimeter away from the predictable. It has also driven me to prayer for things I normally might assume “will work out OK somehow,” but now am not so sure…It certainly has changed how I socialize. Another positive change is that, although the 10 humans and 5 dogs at Christmas dinner were a usual feature – this year, the only quarrel occurred between two of the dogs, not the humans.

What will 2021 bring? Evidently no one knows for sure.

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Laurie…your comment re your church is interesting. Did they really avoid the mask wearing? in services or in between services or both? and what do you mean by “riddled with Covid cases”? This has been an issue among some groups of people. We wear masks in my church, and the whole idea of it never seemed unreasonable for me. But I know some who disagreed and left for other churches. Just wondering!!

My church stopped meeting briefly in March, and did follow some recommendations for distancing, but after a few Sundays of two services (in order to space things out) they went back to all meeting together and haven’t followed gathering limits or mask mandates at all, from what I can see. This fall they set up a “health-conscious room” for people who want to be in a place where everyone is wearing masks, so we did go a few times and watched church on a video screen and visited with the few people who were there. But by and large, most people have not been wearing masks to church, it hasn’t been encouraged by leadership from what I’ve heard, and I know of several members who are vocal anti-maskers. It’s a church of about 100 people (or was before Covid) in a pretty rural area, and there are 4 or 5 that we know for sure had/have Covid, with at least 4 or 5 other families getting sick over the past few weeks, though many either didn’t get tested or haven’t shared a diagnosis. So not a lot of people by numbers, but a decent percentage of attendees have been sick. I thought masks were reasonable too, but I seem to differ with my church on a lot of issues these days.

Knowing that God’s character is unchanging and that we have a record of some of God’s intimate dealings with mankind, in reference to God judging nations, rulers and individual people in different ways and for different purposes, let me ask you this question.
How do you see God’s involvement, judgement (not necessarily in a condemning way) in some of the things that have happened this year. Some topics could be, the election, the riots and violent protests, Covid, or negative interactions between nations. Now these topics are what is portrayed often in the media and knowing that media is just humans expressing only some of the things that are happening (accuracy can be debated) they don’t have to be the only things you see. There obviously can be other ways God is judging that you see that others don’t. It would be good if you could reference some scripture to support your thoughts so we can see that God has done this type of judging before.

We do not have a God that is far off and some thing that is to be dissected, analyzed, criticized and talked about as if He is not real. The LORD Almighty is thee living God. His word is alive.
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Acts 17:28 'For in him we live and move and have our being.

The concern about wearing masks is overdone by some — or in the past has been. I drove a school bus for 21 years and in the first two years caught every childhood disease known to man. When I asked my doctor what I could do, he suggested wearing a mask. That was long ago, and I thought I would frighten the kids showing up at their bus stops with a mask over my nose and mouth…so I developed antibodies to pink eye, stomach flu, etc…the old-fashioned way (by being sick all the time for a year and a half!!)…Thus, the idea (in current case) of wearing a mask does not smack of a Communist plot, anti-religious bigotry, or whatever worries people. My church “locked down,” met on YouTube or Zoom etc for a couple months. I did hear of a couple with COVID and I believe a local pastor (different church) died of it. I “think” I may have heard of another case in my church but not sure…So maybe your church having a “couple” or :“4 or 5” that are known is just par for the course. And we wore masks during Christmas Eve services…seating is 6 ft from next family ec…but “to each his own” and some people feel differently, I suppose. Thanks for the info though!

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Our church has had about 50 cases overall, out of a regular pre-Covid attendance of 700 or so, with the only death being a lady in an assisted living, though several required hospital care, and one was step away from going on a vent. Most of the cases were in Sunday school groups that socialized a lot, ate lunch together etc. and several staff members had Covid but most are young and all did well.
One thing that I’ve thought about is how best to approach those who were Covid deniers ( and also rabid political partisans who now find themselves perhaps feeling a little foolish given events, though still a good number have just doubled down. Of course, we can’t discuss the actual politics here.). I suspect some will accept they were wrong about Covid and move forward, some will withdraw, and some will be defensive. Of course, I have to accept some areas I may have been wrong about also.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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