Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dear 2011: Reflections and Lessons Learned

I was ready.

When the clock struck midnight on December 31, 2010… I was ready.

I was ready for change. I was ready for hope. I was ready for something to propel me forward.

I had been in this vortex of comfortable.

My faith had hit a plateau. There was nothing remarkably different about me.

Yes I had changed in the past year. I had made new friends, I had moved, I had become a woman I had never seen or never thought of becoming.

But something inside of me wanted more, needed more, begged for more.

So I was ready.

For good reason, too.

I look back today and think: Has it been a whole year? One entire year?

How has it not been longer? Hasn’t it been longer?

These are the questions I ask myself as I sit here and think about the magnitude of change my life has encountered over the past year and things that my heart, my hope, my faith have learned.

I've learned you can wish for change, you can beg for change, you can run for it full force with all you have… but it’s not going to come until God allows it come. And when it does, you may not be as ready as you think. But the only constant in change, is that it ALWAYS comes. And the biggest thing that changes you, is how you deal with that change. Lean into God. Pray. Fight hard with your faith. Grow. That is what change is all about.

I've learned to dream. That’s a crazy concept to think about since we have been dreaming from the day we were born. Our parents had dreams for us. We had dreams for ourselves; jobs we wanted to have, places we wanted to see, people we wanted to be. But somewhere along the way, if you are like me, you stopped dreaming. Let me tell you this: There is nothing more beautiful than a heart that has been awakened and can learn to dream. AND DREAM BIG. God wants us to dream. HE IS GOD. He is so much bigger than our dreams. And maybe those dreams lead you closer to Him. Or maybe those dreams bring others closer to Him. Or maybe you just figure out more about who He is. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Don’t be afraid to fail. That might be the purpose. But trust me, the end gain with God is so much bigger. So Dream. Dream Big. Why not?!

I've learned that your faith grows immensely when you surrender to God. The only situations I have been in this year, are ones where at the end of the day, the only thing I have is my faith in God. It will bring tears to your eyes when you can understand more and more of who He is. I cannot describe in words just how faithful, how loving, how simply INCREDIBLE God is and has been to me this year. But I am not who I was one year ago. I think that alone speaks volumes of His capability.

I've learned life does not get more stable the older you get. It does not get less scary. You do not have more answers than you did when you were 19. In fact I think it gets scarier, I think it gets less stable, I think you have less of a clue about where you are headed. But you know who you are. You have more courage, more faith, and more strength to face all the unknowns if you allow God to grow those things in you. You do not have more answers, but the answers you do have are more secure. You do not have more strength; in fact you may become weaker. Thank God His weak is a billion times stronger than our strong. His grace is sufficient for us.

I've learned I am beautiful. I posses something that is my own, that God created in me. Every day is a struggle to fight the lies Satan poisons women with; more personally, poisons me with. Every day it is difficult to remember that God created me with a unique beauty all my own. Every day, God sends reminders of how beautiful I am to Him, how happy my love for His world, makes Him. Every day He continually teaches me the TRUTH about beauty, about HIS beauty, and about the beauty He created within me.

I've learned pain comes in waves. Change doesn’t come without pain. It rains. It will always rain. Sometimes the pain can hurt so bad, you think you will die before God vanquishes it. But then it goes, just as quickly as it came. We go through hardships, loss, fear, and hurt. It comes when we aren’t ready for it, when we don’t expect it, when we can’t handle it. Waves come. Waves go. Things get better. Maybe for a moment, or a day, or a week, or a lifetime. But the “better” comes. Through a laugh, through a friend, through a prayer. And the best thing about waves is they bring you closer to shore, closer to Home, closer to Him.

I've learned the war has already been won. I’ve spent a lot of time this year fighting battles. Honestly, they seemed like wars at the time. Satan is a vicious, vile, relentless jerk. And that is putting it nicely. But because of these battles, these hurts, these tears and tiring sleepless nights, I have realized the most important thing that wins EVERY battle: The war has been won. This truth allows me to cling so desperately during these battles to the beauty, the glory, and the sacrifice of the Cross. The victorious, redeeming, wondrous cross. Satan may throw a lot of crap at me, and it gets hard… believe me, it gets REALLY hard. But the war has been won. The price has been paid. My heart, my life, my everything lies in the hands of Jesus Christ who will not leave me nor will He forsake me.

I have learned life is not about getting what I want. I did not ask to be single at 25. I did not ask to work for a non-profit, sometimes struggling very hard to make ends meet. I did not ask to live in a different city than my family. I did not ask to be continually in question about what comes next in my life. I had a plan. Don’t we all. I did not get much of what I wished for as a little girl. It has taken me a very long time to accept that. He did not put me where I wanted. I will forever be grateful for the grace and mercy that has allowed this truth. He has put me where I am needed, where I am wanted, where I will grow and continually seek His will. Life is not about what I want. Life is about what I can do for Christ. That doesn’t mean my dreams won’t come true. That means all those old dreams, are gone. It’s time for new ones. It’s time to ensure that I delight myself in Him and follow His dreams for me, and make sure everything I want reflects everything He sees in me.

This past year, 2011, has been hard.

I have been pruned. And that is not an easy thing to undergo.

But I have come through with more joy, more love, more hope, more faith, and more knowledge of peace than I ever would have been able to without the pruning.

It has been exactly one year. One year since I braced myself for change.

And now…
I have no clue what is coming next.

But I’m dreaming, I’m seeking, and I’m abiding.

Dear 2011,

 I cannot sum up in one tiny post the hundreds of lessons I have been taught, journeys I've taken, experiences I've had, massive amounts of laughter I've shared, tears I've cried, or mountains I've slid down and conquered. But I will continue to share them to those who wish to learn, seek and understand the vast amount of things your small one year span has taught me.

What a year it was.

See you in photos and memories,

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