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Is 2020 the Worst Year Ever?

A cliche title this year, I know.

But we’ve had other “worst years” before. There were plenty of people who hated 2016, whether for the political climate or the fact that there were clowns running around frightening people. Or maybe they just had a bad year, everything seemed to go wrong for them.

2020 has been a similar – if not worse – year for most people. But let’s spend a few minutes to think about why.

A global virus hit and regardless of your political opinion about how it has been handled, it has drastically affected people’s lives in various ways. Some people have lost loved ones, many people have lost their livelihood in the form of their job or their business, and all of our lives have been made complicated by the way this situation has been handled.

On top of that, a hurricane has devastated a large portion of Louisiana, my home state (though I’m not currently living there and am not personally affected). I personally know many people who have endured damage to their home and had to see their hometown largely reduced to rubble in some areas. Hurricane Laura was devastating, y’all. Please pray for Louisiana and send help if you can.

But there have also been other issues this year.

The spring semester of everyone’s school year had to move online. This caused problems for many teachers, students, and parents, as we all struggled to cope with the change. I was affected by this myself, experiencing my last semester of formal classes as a graduate student this way. I was also a teacher’s assistant and had responsibility to my students as well, so I experienced the issue from both sides of the school dynamic.

Many people’s weddings have been postponed or effectively cancelled as a result of some of the other events of the year, mainly the COVID regulations. My own wedding (particularly the wedding reception) was nearly cancelled as a result of our governor’s mandates.

There has been more than our fair share of stress going around this year. The fact that we were isolated at home only increased our consumption of media, including news, which I believe largely hurt more than helped us. Some news is necessary, but we were cooped up in our houses for weeks, even months, with really only the internet and our immediate family members to distract us. Of course we’re going to end up reading the news more than usual. Many of us were scared and hoped it would bring consolation. When in actuality, I believe it simply increased the mental burden we were all already carrying.

There were protests, which turned to riots in some cases. I’m a supporter of the right to peacefully protest. It’s riots I have an issue with. Just because you have a grievance, even a legitimate grievance, doesn’t give you the right to take it out on others or their property. Regardless of the reasons they had for rioting, there was still fear and destruction that resulted from rioters’s actions. This didn’t help with the overall climate of stress and fear we were all already experiencing.

This seems like a perfect storm right? 2020 MUST be the worst year ever.

Some may not like what I’m about to say. I don’t say it to belittle your struggles or to remind you of the despair that has knocked on the door of many of our heart’s this year. Remember I say it out of a position of hopefulness.

As far as the human race goes, we’ve seen a lot of “worst years”. This wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. There are plenty of places to look for these other terrible years.

Every year is the worst year if you consider abortion, thousands of babies are killed every day, every month, every year.

World War II was devastating for everyone involved. There were countless deaths of soldiers and civilians on all sides of the war. There was also the Holocaust during WWII, when millions of people were killed in concentration camps.

There’s been genocides and wars across the past centuries, almost since humanity came into existence.

Christians were massacred by Romans in the early years of the Church, mirroring Christ’s own death.

Our lives have always been hard, in varying degrees, across the entirety of human history.

I don’t say this to scare you. I say this to inspire and encourage you. The human race has experienced so much trouble, hurt, fear, and death. This isn’t the first “worst year”, but it is OUR “worst year” and that’s okay. Because guess what the human race has also been doing all this time?

Surviving, improving, learning. If we let it, trials and terror can teach us. OR we can let it rule our lives. We can either let it cause us to despair or bring us closer to God and make us better people.

But also: beauty and good can still exist during times of great tribulation.

I got married to the love of my life, surrounded by friends and family. We have a beautiful new home and are making our life together. I’ve seen others of my friends getting married as well.

My cousin and several of my friends have had children during all of this. New little babies, bundles of joy, which brighten the worlds of all who get to see them, especially during these hard times.

Love, children, sunshine, flowers, and beauty all still exist.

We can let 2020 be the worst year ever if we want to. Or we can put our lives in God’s hands and choose to focus on good instead of evil. Just because there are bad things in the world, doesn’t mean they have to rule our lives and condemn our hearts to despair. We can do what is required of us to get through, pray, and help each other instead.

God gives true peace and joy if you turn to Him, no matter what hardships you may be mired in. And there is incessant beauty in His creation to remind you of His Providence.

Really this article should be titled “Finding Good in 2020”.

I leave you with a quote from St. Joan of Arc: “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.” We were born in our time for a reason. We are all meant to be here. I think that is a very encouraging thought. As another wise – though fictional – person has said, “All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given us.”

Stay joyful and I pray God blesses you with the consolations you need in this difficult year.