My 2020 Christmas Letter

It’s hard to believe nine months have already passed since we first heard of COVID-19. Back in March, most of us thought it was a temporary setback. Then, as we understood it might take much longer, panic set in: How will we ever get through this? And now we’re seeing just how resilient and strong people can be when life strips away comforts and conveniences we so easily take for granted, when we’re forced to lean into each other even as we practice social distancing. I know that for many of you the challenges of 2020 have been far more difficult than they have been for me (although I had to mourn the deaths of an aunt, a church member I’ve known since birth, and a friend I went to college with), so I won’t pretend I understand what you’ve been going through, but I do want to encourage you to not give up. People like me are inspired when we watch people like you!

Thank you for being part of my journey, even if you only interact with me on social media and we don’t know each other personally. Each connection has played a part in helping me become who I am and come this far in my life, especially in the last few years as I’ve experienced more change and growth than I believed was possible for me.

As strange and tough as 2020 has been, I must confess it was a good year for me. That’s partly because 2019 was such a hard and discouraging year. I struggled in my work, in my spiritual growth, in my personal life. But God is faithful and He is good, and He relentlessly told me He loves me through people, through books, through music, through nature, and through His Word, even (or especially) in times of silence and darkness. After 40 years of being a Christian, I finally got it.

Unless you’ve had this experience, too—I know some of you have, and I hope the rest of you will one day—it’s hard to imagine how much light and freedom and hope pour into your life when you truly believe God loves you, and you start to love Him back. When you start to follow and obey Him because you are excited to, and not because you feel like you have to (or else you’ll displease Him and disappoint people around you), the whole game changes. So 2020 has been unforgettable for me for reasons other than COVID. I’ve been rediscovering who God made me to be and enjoying the abundant life He has for each of us. Some of the changes have been significant (such as driving… confidently!), some minor (I finally got my ears pierced in January), some sweet (I now have an adorable brown tabby named Buttercup and she makes me smile every day), and some celebration-worthy (my nephew got engaged!)

I’ve been busy with work and am starting to shift into teaching about writing. Things are happening at my church, despite COVID-related challenges, and we’ve had a number of new families join us, which shows that even a global pandemic cannot stop God from moving in people’s hearts. It’s wonderful! Of course, we were unable to go to Armenia this summer—and then there was the heartbreaking war in Artsakh—so our hearts and minds have been with our beloved friends there.

So that’s some of my news! I pray that this Christmas you will truly experience God’s amazing love as you reflect on the greatest gift ever given to us: Jesus coming to this earth to live among us and then to give His life for us. May God bless you richly in 2021!

Ann-Margret

Illustration by Ann-Margret Hovsepian

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