Howdy Folks! 🙂
We’re at the end of another year and I thought in conclusion, I should share some personal thoughts on what 2015 has been like for me.
Without a doubt, I can say it’s been a good year. The very fact that I’m writing this at the end of December 2015 means God’s hand has protected, provided, comforted and guided at every turn. There were so many blessings, and blessed moments that enriched my life and put a smile on my face this year. So many things I can look back on and say, ‘That could only have been God.’ He continues to be good, and continues to amaze 🙂
But I’ll also be honest enough to say however, that in the midst of all that goodness were also many struggles.
- I struggled with my work, and keeping up with its increasing demands. Maintaining a healthy work/life balance proved to be one of my greatest challenges.
- I struggled in some of my personal relationships, with family and friends. And particularly with the conflict that arises when expectations don’t always match with reality.
- I struggled with myself. And where I am in my life right now. Retracing my footsteps and second guessing decisions I’ve made, and paths I’ve taken over the years. Were they right or was I wrong? Was I too this or maybe I was not enough that . And so many other questions… *sigh*
- I struggled in my relationship and walk with God, when the list of unanswered questions and unanswered prayers continued to grow, and I felt like God was silent and distant, and I couldn’t discern where He was and what He was doing in my life.
Some of those moments were dark and riddled with pain, others brought more confusion than anything else, while others just left me feeling numb or indifferent.
If you read those last few sentences and immediately said to yourself, ‘I felt that way too somewhere in July,’ – Thank you for being honest. I am in no way glorifying the struggles, because in all things, God still remains bigger and greater, but the truth is that life would not be as full or as rich without those struggles and the lessons they often bring.
When you think about it, what makes us grateful for what we own is having experienced lack. What makes us appreciate and cherish love and acceptance, is when we know firsthand the pain of rejection. What makes us thankful for wisdom and counsel is when we’ve been through the shame and humbling that comes with making wrong and unwise decisions. And a sumptuous meal is even more tasty and meaningful on an empty stomach, right? So those ‘Valley moments’ really do bring us greater perspective and make our growth more rounded and complete.
I can’t remember where I read this piece of advice, but it’s still true nonetheless. ‘When you’re going through a valley, the best thing to do is to keep going.’ Even when you don’t understand how, or why or when it will all end…just keep going.
Contrary to what our emotions may say, I am so thankful that even while going through those valleys, we are not alone. And that none of our struggles are new to God. That He is not caught unaware when we face a challenge or waver in our faith at one point or the other. “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses, but one who was tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.” That even in our darkest moments, He still rejoices over us with singing, and quiets our anxieties with His love. Yes, sometimes there are no immediate answers to our questions and our prayers. And in those times, we just have to trust that He is there, and that He is present in the process.
Whatever 2015 brought, and any other year in the future for that matter, settle in your heart above all else to trust in God’s character. Who He is and what He has said about Himself. That He is still good, and that His plans and purposes for your life are for good and not evil. That His arms are always extended from east to west waiting for you to accept his embrace, no matter how far you’ve gone or how bleak the situation appears. That His desire is always to bring life, especially to those things that have died. Whether those things have died in your heart, or in your life.
And when we’re honest about those things and let Him step into our ‘tombs,’ He is sure to do what He does best. He will bring light – and He will bring life.
So, from the storms and challenges I encountered this past year;
- I learned about trusting God. Trusting that He is always there in the seasons of my life, whether I understand my circumstances or not, and whether I feel His presence or not. God is always there, and ever-present even in the process.
- I saw once again the power of prayer and relying on God consistently, even while in the valley. Instead of withdrawing from God when we go through difficult situations and trying to figure things out on our own, I’d say it’s so much better to turn first-thing to the one who has all power, all knowledge and all wisdom to change our situations completely.
- I was reminded of the importance of good, godly relationships, and how we ought to maintain and nurture these in our lives. God does love and care for us through other people, when we’re willing to take off our masks and be honest and vulnerable with them. No man is an island and God puts grace in other people for us, especially in our times of need. Just as we carry grace in us for others. And this grace can only be accessed when we are connected to one other, hence the need for these relationships.
- I re-learned the importance of saying ‘No’ more often, and how that this two-letter word is really the key to setting healthy boundaries and maintaining balance in life. We are only human and should not try to be the answer to each and everyone’s need and question. That is where God comes in. So this can be learning to say No in the workplace, No to unreasonable requests from family and friends or No to even our very own selves. And mastering those two letters is truly mastering what comes in, and also what goes out of your life. Protecting yourself, as a resource.
- I also realized just how important having the Peace of God is in our daily lives and especially when it comes to decision making, and how to be cautious in its absence. There are many ways in which God speaks to us, and guides and directs – and one way is through peace. Without that peace, please stop in your tracks and await further instructions. Many a regret have been born from going ahead in a particular direction when your heart is saying otherwise. Again, ours is to trust the leading of the one who is already in our future, and can see how the story pans out. Trust, trust trust.
Some of these lessons were harder to learn than others, while some were just reminders from seasons past, but I’m definitely better off this December than I was last January.
What important lessons are you walking away with from 2015?
As we go into the new year, my prayer for you is that your slate will be clean and your heart and mind ready to learn all the lessons that are in store for you. That you will not resist the opportunities to grow that are coming your way, but you’ll embrace them wholeheartedly. That your hope will be renewed, and your discouragements lifted. That you will not be afraid to live, and pursue the things that are hidden in your heart. That you will make bold decisions, you will take risks, you will build strong relationships, you will start that business and you will find love (if you’re looking lol.) May you not only grow, but may you also thrive.
And when the storms of life come, that you will not grow weary, but instead grow strong in your Faith, knowing and trusting that you are never alone. But that God is right there with you, working things in you, and For you.
It bears mentioning again. Trust Him.
I would love to hear from you, especially about what your year has been like and the things that have helped shape you in 2015. Drop me a line when you can so we can exchange notes.
Thanks for being a part of this journey. I look forward to seeing you on the other side 😉