As 2020 comes to an end, I think we will all shout a collective “hallelujah!” Perhaps more than any other time, we anxiously await a new year, sincerely wanting our lives to be better. While it is customary around this time of year to take an inventory of our lives, asking ourselves questions like “What have I learned? What do I want to improve? What do I want to add? What do I want to eliminate?”, our answers will probably be quite different from previous years.
Hopefully one thing 2020 has given us is a clearer perspective. I have thought often over these last several months about something David A. Bednar shared in general conference five years ago. He had gone to visit Robert D. Hales who had been seriously ill. Elder Bednar asked what lessons he had learned as he had gotten older and experienced severe health challenges. Elder Hales said, “When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.”1 Elder Bednar went on to say, “Physical restrictions can expand vision. … Inability to do many things can direct focus to a few things of greatest importance.”1 Oh, how well that applies to this year!
A few months into the pandemic, we started hearing that life would not be returning to normal any time soon and that we needed to accept a “new normal.” I really disliked those words! I didn’t want a new normal! I wanted my life just like it was before. My heart softened to that phase when it was uttered by our dear prophet. I was given a clearer perspective. He said, “Today we often hear about ’a new normal.’ If you really want to embrace a new normal, I invite you to turn your heart, mind, and soul increasingly to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Let that be your new normal.”2
An invitation from the prophet is profoundly personal. President Nelson’s words were exactly what I needed to hear. No matter what other limitations and restrictions were placed upon me, my access to heaven was unrestricted. Whatever else is going on or not going on around me, what is going on inside of me is of most importance. The word increasingly reminds me of the constant and consistent effort that is required. I can and must be moving closer to my Heavenly Father and the Savior—every day. A beautiful thing happens when we turn to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ—we feel more love for our family and friends and desire to serve and bless those around us.
With clearer perspective, a new year begins. Some things that once seemed so important have now found their proper place in my life. Other things have taken on added and more profound meaning. I have come to more fully appreciate Elder Bednar’s words, “Inability to do many things can direct focus to a few things of greatest importance.”1 What are the things of greatest importance in our lives? What will our focus be in 2021? What really are those things that matter most? More than once President Nelson has reminded us to keep our focus on the Savior, the most recent being just a few weeks ago when he told us, “There is nothing more important we can do … than to rivet our focus on the Savior.”3
I can’t imagine a better New Year’s resolution than that!
1. Chosen to Bear Testimony of My Name – David A. Bednar
2. A New Normal – Russell M. Nelson
3. Divine Gifts – Russell M. Nelson