Many years ago I bought a watercolor print of a small bird on a limb of blossoms. It was a Mother’s Day gift for my Mom—she loved birds! I took the print to the frame shop and carefully chose both the matting color and frame that I thought my mom would love. Success! She loved it, and she hung it in a prominent place near her desk in our home. Several years later my mom died, and, of course, the bird print (and the desk) became mine. In keeping with my own decor tastes, I had the print re-matted and reframed. It looks completely different! Same sweet print, completely different look. That reframed print now hangs on my wall behind the same desk my mom used all those years ago. Something tells me you’ve done something similar to pictures in your own home. As seasons and palettes change, we simply reframe the art, thereby creating something different and like new.
The practice of reframing is not only useful in art, it is also a tool counselors use with their clients to encourage them to view things differently. This practice of reframing (known as Cognitive Reframing) is a technique that helps us to name certain situations, experiences, events and/or emotions and then change or “reframe” the way we view them. It is an extremely effective tool.
If ever there was a year that needs a reframing, it is 2020. Is it possible to view the past year, and our present, with a different mindset? Is it possible for us to reframe the experiences, events and emotions of our last year? I believe it is. While we can’t physically go back and change the past, we can certainly change our emotional response to it by reframing it through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are linear in time; He is not. He can reach back to what is past, lost, or painful and pour out His healing, even changing how we think and feel about it!
With that in mind, consider these three ways to reframe 2020.
Some have called this the “lost year,” and I understand that feeling because it is the perfect set up for our first reframe:
1. The year wasn’t lost.
Scripture is replete with examples of difficult experiences, years even, that seemed like a waste of time or of time that was lost. For example, the time the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness. Something tells me that the forty year trek seemed like lost time to them. In the moment, they weren’t creating a sermon series on the blessings of the wilderness; they were living it one painful day at a time. Like us. However, in hindsight, with a little reframing, we can see the beauty of the wilderness experience: how God provided for them, proved Himself, and marked them in ways no other experience could have.
We see similar seasons of lost time in the life of the prophet Elijah, with Jesus, and with John exiled to Patmos or Paul imprisoned. Is it possible that with some reframing, we can see those same things from 2020? What was God spiritually forming in us, through us? In what ways was the solitude and slower pace a blessing and gift? Our encouragement to you is this, take some time and reframe the year not by what was lost but by what was gained. Considering what was lost brings us to reframe number two.
2. The year wasn’t lost, but name what was lost.
We lost so much in 2020, and let’s be honest, it’s ongoing. This is about naming our loss and processing our grief. We have all experienced loss of some kind during this season. If you lost someone you love, I am so sorry for your loss. If you lost a celebration, a milestone moment, a job or a dream, I am so sorry for your loss.
COVID has greatly complicated the grieving process. I wouldn’t say that in our culture we are good grievers to begin with. However, the benefit and blessing of this season is that there is so much more attention given to grief and honor to the process—the world is grieving.
The best way to reframe this year of loss is to name our loss and actively engage in the grieving process versus minimizing or denying our loss or pain. Numerous resources are available to you to help you grieve your loss. Please utilize those resources. Ask for help. We suggest talking to your local church and/or a counselor. We recommend websites like aacc.net, aapc.org, and biblicalcounseling.com to help you find a counselor in your area who can also help you see God’s lovingkindness in your life. Also, you can access the complete pdf of our Lifeway Women Grief Resource here.
The third way we can reframe last year is:
3. Have a biblical theodicy.
What is a Theodicy? In short, it is a theology of suffering. What you believe about why God permits evil and suffering will frame how you experience it personally and your ability to receive care and comfort from God. What do you believe about pain? Does God cause it? Why does He allow it? Is there an answer to the “why” questions? Why do people suffer? Why do godly people suffer? Did God cause COVID? A biblical theodicy is what will accurately frame the artwork of pain the past year has inflicted on us.
I believe pain is a primary pathway for spiritual formation. When I look at Scripture, I see pain has a purpose and is part of sharing in the sufferings of Christ. I also see we are not promised a life without pain, but here’s what we are promised—His presence in our pain, His peace that passes human understanding, His power to bear up under it, and His provision through it. Knowing that, believing that, trusting that, is a game changer for me. I hope it is for you as well.
The reframed picture of that sweet bird on a blossomed branch reminds me I am more valuable to God than the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. So are you. Take heart, let His love for you frame your years and your life. That, my friend, is the ultimate reframing.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through Lifeway Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. “I was a wounded, lonely Midwest farm girl until the Divine Romancer swept me off my feet. I want to steward my story well so that others can find Him in their stories and be fully satisfied.” Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live on Florida’s West Coast and are both on staff at Bayside Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the Lifeway resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.