New Year note from Chaplain: Making plans in 2021

  • Published
  • By Maj. David Kreis
  • 944th Fighter Wing Chaplain

So there I was, going to hang a new 2021 calendar on the wall in my office and I stopped to look at the 2020 calendar before I took it down. I had listed on it several temporary duties, schools, leave, annual tour dates, and goals for the year.

At some point in the July portion of the calendar I simply just stopped trying and quit filling in most of it. Ha! I have not used it much since then because stuff just kept changing. It became a week-to-week affair with little forward planning as I am sure it was for many of you. While taking inventory of the year 2020, it was definitely not what I was expecting. Of course none of us expected it.

Now looking at 2021…

Do I buy a calendar? Do I even attempt to fill in some plans? How do I go about making plans/goals for 2021?

A friend of mine shared a lesson entitled “Making Plans in Pencil” back on 29 December 2019 in which he spoke about making plans as a spiritual exercise. I now look back at that and marvel at how his recommendation would be so true for the year. Now looking at 2021, making plans we now can look at planning and goal making differently. Some tips as you go about making those plans and goals:

1. Making Plans is a Spiritual Exercise. When filling out the calendar and deciding on goals, realize which ones are most important now. Those things we ascribe most value to will be the things that float to the top of the lists. Visiting family may be difficult to do as often as it was before so maybe it is more important this year. With less in-person church services available maybe making the extra effort to participate in what is available online or in-person.

2. Manage Expectations. One area that hurt us all this year was canceling of all kinds of events and activities. Missed events and activities hurt and it was incredibly frustrating. Part of the stress of the year came because we came to expect a certain item/event to exist and then when it didn’t we realize how much value we placed on it. So as you plan for sports, shows, concerts, recitals, tournaments, schools, graduations, weddings, or other things, be aware of your emotional and spiritual state when these things have to change.

3. Adjusting plans will probably happen again. As with quarantines and events canceling, I know through conversations we struggled to make adjustments. For many of us, myself included, when something got canceled, the audible was typically just Netflix. So maybe this year think of the backup plan. Rather than just Netflix or video games, work to accomplish that PME, read through your stack of books, or work on crafts or a self-improvement course so we don’t just roll to auto pilot and waste the time.

4. Hope through cope. Coping with canceled events, stress, changes, and quarantines is good. We have many coping skills but I want to challenge us to hope for change and growth in resiliency. Your hope will give you your “why” so you can cope. Coping is what we do when we react to life but growing, changing, and becoming stronger is all because we hope in greater outcomes. My faith drives me to hope in something greater and for a greater purpose which gives meaning and direction. I know I will grow and change through wild events. I hope in greater peace and justice that will come from the lessons learned over the past year and the next year.