Saturday, March 11, 2023

Reflections on 2021 & 2022

It's difficult to know where to begin in summing up two years as huge as 2021 and 2022 were. Goals were met, our family had another 21st, the war between good and evil raged on, legislation was passed, and many people had their livelihoods taken away and their lives turned upside down. 

2021 began innocently enough, welcomed with fireworks, food, and other festivities. But in time the expected trouble came knocking: we were again confined to our houses, New Zealand was divided into two classes of people, relationships were destroyed, and intense coercion was applied to force people into submission or becoming the outcasts of society: excluded from their social circles, workplaces, churches, and health providers. 

We sold our family business, leaving my father unemployed for several months, and then I was mandated out of two positions making things a bit stressful for a while given our household size remained consistent! A little over a month later I stumbled across and then stepped into another position which turned out to be an incredible and unexpected blessing since it was better in just about every way.

For me it was an amazing experience of witnessing God's provision so incredibly clearly. No matter the evil our enemies set out to to do (and even achieve), they can't prevent God working out His plans for our lives or blessing us. And doesn't it also illustrate how God so often works? First He calls us to obey in faith even though we can't see how the situation could possibly work out, and after -- and only after -- we've done so, He surprises us with a blessing we never could've guessed was waiting for us. Had I compromised to provide for my family (as many would have advised me to) I would have been working full time (and had a bunch of other things going on) when the new opportunity became available and never seen the advert.

Despite the tumult going on nationally and globally, I had a relatively good year personally and made time time for the important things in life.

Less happily, I lost respect for a lot of people in 2021. However, that did lead me to wonder how often we allow fear of man to be of greater importance to us than obedience to God? How often do we know exactly what God expects of us, but avoid it, put it off, or hide it because we're afraid of what others will think of us? What sort of impact could we have on the world if we stopped worrying what others think of us and instead focused our energy on fulfilling God's call on our lives?

2022 also had its ups and downs. As the year dawned, holidaymakers found themselves obliged to provide the correct documentation even for certain domestic travel in private vehicles, and many tourist attractions and eating establishments were off-limits to much of the population.

Before we saw the end of January, a sizeable portion of New Zealand's citizens decided enough was enough and formed a convoy from Cape Reinga and Bluff to parliament, hoping to share their experiences and concerns with the nation's leaders and reach a workable solution. Camp Freedom (or Profest) was formed and we saw incredible commitment, ingenuity, and community from many concerned Kiwis. I managed to make it down for just one weekend, but it was certainly a once in a lifetime experience I'll never forget. It was absolutely surreal to be physically present at one of the most important events of my lifetime, and one I had only seen by livestream previously. It really was amazing to see the community that formed in those few weeks, including merchandise and signage, its own security team, education, entertainment, donut and coffee trailers providing their goods free of charge, and a kitchen that constantly had a variety of dishes on offer--again, at no charge, the whole thing was funded by donations from supporters. The stories of those present were incredible too. From injuries to job loss to broken relationships, these people had been through so much. In particular though, I'll never forget one woman who initially went along with the approved narrative, only to later realise the truth; as we each shared our stories she teared up saying "I'm so sorry we weren't fighting for you back then and thank you for fighting for us from the beginning!"

Sadly, 2022 was of course also the year our men in blue gave up their honour. From kneeling on a kid's head to dragging a naked woman by the hair, pepper-spraying peaceful citizens, pushing and shoving and carrying out other such physical violence on non-violent protestors who were demonstrating within their lawful rights, playing dress-ups (for illegal occupations no less), disrupting elderly ladies' tea parties, making taxpayers late for work (because seatbelts are hard to see against blue jackets), and stealing kids from loving parents, it really wasn't a great year. Will I ever again hear a siren without wondering whether it's for a real crime or an innocent person about to suffer unjustly?

We tried out National Crash Your Car Day and loved it so much we decided to have another one a few months later. (I regret that I neglected to note down the exact dates, so if anyone else recorded them please do let me know so I can avoid leaving home on those days in future. Thanks in advance.)

I watched with deep sadness as our young people took to Facebook to proclaim their ignorance. "Nobody could've seen this coming--just be nice!" Apparently, they weren't aware that many did see what was coming, and prepared for it too. Is this really the best we can do for the next generation? I don't think so. We can -- and must -- do better, the future depends on it. We need to raise our future leaders with a worldview, skills, and character that will enable them to accurately see, process, and respond to the real world around them -- or we'll pay the price.

Of course, it wasn't all bad. Many parents took back the responsibility for raising their children from whichever state or other institution they had previously surrendered it to. I was encouraged to hear of a few parents share how they were rediscovering a love of learning and of their children. Even better, the ones I know personally are only the tip of the iceberg. 

All in all, 2022 was a bit of a rough year. As it came to a close, part of me was sad that there was no longer any opportunity to "redeem" it, for something to happen making it a better year overall. Another part of me was glad to see it end and make space for a new beginning, hopefully a better one. Farewell 2022, you won't be missed.