Has there ever been a year more than this one where people have been so ready to kick it to the curb? “Tying a bow on it” might be a softer approach, understanding that most would not consider any part of 2020 a present. However, I do think it’s a healthy habit to seek closure for different seasons of life, especially the hard times.

Below are some brief reflections as we wrap up 2020 and head into a new year.

What’s Taken for Granted

How often have we heard or said the phrase, “Don’t take it for granted!” I certainly have. At moments I take this challenge to heart. But if I’m honest, I feel it’s impossible to live each day in this manner. We are human. Unfortunately, we have to learn lessons over and over again.

So what did you take for granted prior to the pandemic? I’ll name a few for me:

  • Handshakes
  • Hugs
  • The gift of slowing down, smelling the roses (or allergens), observing nature
  • Church worship
  • Walking and gathering in public freely

Certainly, my list could go on. The reality is that much in my every day life that I took for granted was taken away at least for some time.

Challenges and Joys

So how have you responded to the challenges of 2020? Perhaps you have experienced heartache, loss, anxiety or depression. Have you said goodbye to dear loved ones, tragically without being able to hug their necks or hold their hands one last time? How can we find closure here? It’s hard (a massive understatement).

On the flip side, have you’ve found hidden joys with much of every day life coming to a screeching halt? Were you reckoned with the busyness of life, rushing from one activity to another? I think many were initially relieved (in a surprising way) when all activities were cancelled. Family dinners around the table once again became the norm. Stories were told. Laughter unfolded. Politics were debated (okay hopefully not).

How can we reconcile these extreme experiences? I’d argue that we actually can.

An Ultimate Hope

A question must be asked: Where does your ultimate hope and security lie? Work? Stuff? Bank or investment accounts? Others?

There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these. We were made to work. Buying a car (or adult toy of your choosing) can bring happiness. Saving and investing (rather than hoarding) can be good. Relationships with others can be life-giving. But let’s face it: None of these produces ever-lasting joy.

Work is stressful. Stuff breaks. Banks go under. Investments lose value. Others, including best friends and close family, can hurt or offend us. It’s inevitable!

And being this is a financial planning blog, let’s talk about a doomsday scenario: What happens if all banks go down and companies go bankrupt? There goes the U.S. of A. No companies mean no jobs. No jobs mean no taxes. No taxes mean no government. People, it’s farm and garden time! The money buried out back or in a fireproof safe is now just paper to start a fire.

Now that we have panicked some readers, do we honestly think this is where we are headed? No. We believe Apple, Google and Netflix are here to stay. We firmly believe the value of the companies our clients are invested in today will be worth more in 5, 10 and 20 years. Therefore, we invest with a long-term mindset.

Consider your alternatives: Cash? Gold? These can be good short-term vehicles for saving. However, you must consider the long-term effects of inflation. The purchasing power of a dollar decreases over time. What your dollar can buy today will buy less in 5 years. Therefore, long-term investing makes sense.

But investing is not our ultimate hope. These things do not last. But we believe there is something…Someone who does. Consider the words of Elisabeth Elliot:

“Where does your security lie? Is God your refuge, your hiding place, your stronghold, your shepherd, your counselor, your friend, your redeemer, your saviour, your guide? If He is, you don’t need to search any further for security.”

Rest easy, reader, especially this Christmas season, if God is where your ultimate security lies. He will not fail you. He will not abandon you. He is for you. He will not leave or forsake you. It’s His promise. And He remains true to His Word. Hear it straight from Him:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – Jesus Christ (John 16:33)

*For financial planning clients of Rivertree Financial Planning: Please contact us as soon as possible if you have had any changes in circumstances, objectives, goals or risk tolerance.