What Did You Learn?

There’s an old Irish tradition on New Year’s Eve: open your door at midnight and let the old year out and the new year in. This year I’m gonna open every door and window and wave a resounding good-bye to 2020! But wait. Maybe I should only let those things go that were not beneficial. Surely, in the nine months of adversity I learned something that was worth being kept and applied.

I distinctly remember my ninth-grade Oklahoma history class—not because I loved it, but because it was miserable. Each day as we walked into class we were required to take a worksheet off the corner of the teacher’s desk, open our books, commence to complete it, and turn it in on the way out the door. Every. Single. Day. Our teacher sat at his desk and read the newspaper. I don’t recall much about Oklahoma history, but I do know that when my parents asked me what I learned that year I responded with, “I will never be a teacher like him!”

Much to my surprise, I was hired to teach American history to eighth graders. Not sure how that happened. As I prepared for the first onslaught of hormone-filled teenagers who disliked history very, very much, the remnant of what I learned in ninth grade resurfaced, and I once again vowed that I would not be a teacher like him. I determined to conduct my classroom differently in order for my students to learn and appreciate the foundations of our country. So began the singing, dancing, building, acting, and all other kinds of hands-on activities to make American history real and alive. From the miserable emerged a good nugget. 

I record 2020 as a similar experience. It was definitely not enjoyable and just had to be survived. I thought of the question my parents inquired of me then—what did you learn? Here’s my list:

-I learned isolation is not good for my mental health. 

-I learned that Jesus is vitally important to my well-being.

-I learned no matter what happens in this crazy world God still sits on the throne and he is in control.

-I learned I can survive without all of the fluff—what is most important is relationships.

-I learned how creative people can be.

-I learned that God will always show up.

Those are lessons worth keeping. 

I love the illustration of putting an egg, potato, and coffee beans into three separate pans on the stove and letting them boil awhile. With the heat, the potato grows soft, the egg becomes hard, and the coffee beans create something new—all different results from the same experience. 

So as you fling open your door to kick 2020 out of your house, what did you learn? What lessons should you keep to carry with you into 2021 that made you stronger or wiser? 

We all pray 2021 holds magical beans that grow into something extraordinary.


About Shelley Pulliam   Read more by this author...

Howdy! (A girl from Oklahoma has to use this as her greeting) I’m Shelley Pulliam, executive director of Arise Ministries and former teacher of hormone-filled 8th graders. But my real claim to fame rests in my award as second grade spelling bee champ and my recent gun-handling skills as I train to competition shoot. It helps me be on guard when Satan comes knocking. I’m a voracious reader and can frequently be found at the theater enjoying movie marathons where my record stands at six in one day. I’m a single, never married, who loves to pour into children at every opportunity. Let me know if you have any for sale. You can connect with me on social media. https://www.instagram.com/shelleypulliam/

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