When I started 2016, I wanted to have a different narrative for my usual new years resolution so I decided to start a tradition of pinpointing the moments of growth, discovery and recovery that God brings me through each year. It’s my hope that over the years, I will look back to find an anthology of grace and healing that only God could write for me. This is the beginning. Here’s everything I learned in 2015, and I hope you find the time to reflect and share yours too!
Everything meaningful comes in the form of process:
learning and unlearning yourself, learning someone else, learning to pray, learning to love and learning to live.
People won’t know how you feel until you tell them (even if it doesn’t come out the right way the first time.
Try and try and try again – even if it’s almost five years later).
Prayer is circling.
I used to pray about something and forget about it. If it’s meant to be, God will make a way. And He does, but if we stop praying about something after a few weeks, why would God think it’s that important to answer you? Circling in prayer is having the resolve that even if your prayers outlive you, God is still able to answer it. Prayers don’t die – even after we do.
I can’t live in partiality.
I have to be whole first in thinking and doing before I can be whole in being. I can’t think of Jesus in one way and not love the imperfect human I see in the mirror everyday. I can’t expect to see a harvest in my love life if there is no harvest in the time spent loving the family and friends I already have. All or nothing.
Creativity is an occasion.
I don’t need a speaking request, event flyer, wristband or mic stand to put something out into the world. It’s my calling, my responsibility and privilege to soul detox whenever my heart feels like it.
I don’t need permission.
Somewhere along the 24 years of life I have occupied, I developed a bad habit of letting situations, people and fear dictate what I did or didn’t do with my time, resources, gifts and bottled up personality. I worried. I waited. I weakened. Until I realized (a.k.a. was told) that God isn’t flattered by my timidity. I’ve known Him long enough to talk to Him like He’s listening and work like He’s coming back expecting to get a good report.
Stewardship cannot just be about money.
Stewardship is about the discipline and diligence to not just handle God’s money with care and tact, but also the gifts, talents responsibilities and one-of-a-kind assignments He has me on. Budget your finances, your time, your investment in relationships, your church and community service and yield a full return on investment.
There is a blessing (or two) in the uncomfortable.
Throughout this year, there have been many days where I thought, my life is falling a part. And it was – on purpose. How quickly I forgot that little prayer I prayed more than once the year before and into 2015, Lord, unravel me. And that’s exactly what He has been doing. Letting the ground crumble beneath my feet, leaving me in the middle of His ocean without a paddle or life-vest to hold onto and letting me wander aimlessly in the wilderness called waiting on God. I felt uneasy, unsure and completely at peace all in the same breath. Growth is uncomfortable. Trying something new is uncomfortable, but if uncomfortable gets me closer to Jesus and one step further into my calling then uncomfortable is where I call home.
Perfectionism is the enemy of progress.
There are so many projects, books, blog posts, poems or songs that I’ve created over the years that have gone to creative waste because of my need for everything to look or feel, ‘perfect.’ That’s until I realized that my need for everything to be ‘together,’ had actually hindered my progress, dampened my creative mood and discouraged me more than anything else. Thankfully, perfection paralysis is no longer a road block for me. It’s like a light bolb went off: I started writing, opened up my wordpress (after about three months of sulking) and pressed the ‘schedule,’ button. I didn’t worry about the SEO or the likelihood of anyone actually reading it. I just did it.
There’s probably a meme or a .gif for that.
When I tell you that this has been the year of the meme, please believe me! There’s something almost therapeutic about finding the exact facial expression or illustration to convey how you really feel at any given moment. At the core of the meme is the medicine of laughter which has helped a lot of wounds heal a lot quicker than any prescription could ever do.
[INSERT HERE: fave memes and gifs]
Every wound hasn’t healed.
Though Jesus has been gracious to me, giving me peace in moments of emotional chaos, filling my cup when I’m running on empty and surrounding me in communities and circles filled with His love, I realize that there are parts of me that are still bleeding. Fresh wounds that may not be visible at first glance, but still burn, still feel tinder to touch and have yet to heal. These wounds don’t make me, but they have shaped who I am – in some good ways and in some not so good ways, but thanks be to God. One day I will talking about these wounds in past tense. I will wear these healed scars like badges of courage. He will make my scars beautiful.
Marriage is another mission field.
I’ve always looked at marriage at something sacred, beautiful and for mostly everyone – that is until the last two years. I saw the the beauty and the beast that can show it’s ugly head between man and wife. I watched pastors like Francis Chann strip my initial understanding of marriage, rip it to shreds and give it back to me again smeared with the blood of the Gospel.
I had dozens of conversations with single and married women and realized I was seeing it all wrong. It’s not just the “next step” in this thing called ‘adulting,’ marriage is another level of spiritual growth. It is not a garden to go frolic in – it’s more like a dessert. Where God has placed you and your new accountability partner for life to cultivate while He makes something beautiful out of the both of you. Marriage is another plot of the mission field. It doesn’t start when you’re ready. It starts when you commit to be committed no matter what.
I am stronger than I feel.
I’ve always held fast to the idea that as a human, as a Christian, and as a woman, it’s okay to be weak. It’s okay to admit that you’re not strong enough to handle something. It’s perfectly biblical…right? Not according to Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord.” For the last (2) months of 2015, I have been hanging on to that verse for dear life. It challenged what I thought to be true: I’m supposed to be weak so that God can be the strong one. Which is true but only after I have done my part.
My pastor recently made this statement in relation to New Year goals or resolutions: “pray for the miracles and work on the manageable.” And that’s exactly what I think Psalm 27: 14 is saying. This verse is our permission to completely exhaust our human capabilities so that when God steps in, we are 100% aware and thankful that He goes above and beyond our strength to do things we could only dream up. I have learned to be strong.
September will never be the same.
A lot of things happened in September of 2015: conversations, my lowest of lows, some great moments, events conversations and new friendships, but most of all, I realized how small I am and How big God is. I realized how accurate words said in the heat of a moment can be. And I began to understand why some women, men, and children find ways to take the easy way out of the pain, the redundancy of bad decisions, the seasons of waiting.
I began to see with God’s eyes that deep down inside, no matter how we try to dress it up, bury it or veil our depression, our guilt, our disappointments, they will always find a way to surface. The question is who will uncover it in you?
Find joy in the unexpected.
As I reflect on 2015, I can’t help but wonder what I could have done differently or how I can make this year even better, but I realized that almost every moment of pure delight, sheer joy and wonder happened unexpectedly. I didn’t plan it, didn’t see it coming or had no clue what I was getting into – but it worked (or it’s working) out to be for my good.
I’m challenging myself to do more and be more. I’m embracing God by embracing me – the way He made for the purpose He made me. I’m finding contentment in this wilderness. In the forest of uncertainty, the unbeaten paths of learning to fully love myself, the quiet mornings of learning to be still. I don’t know what will happen in 2016, in the next six months, or the next six minutes, but I’m waiting on the Lord. Expectant and preparing for what is to come.
What was 2015 like for you?
What lessons did you learn now that you can look back at that page in your life?
To our becoming,