I LOVE THINKING BACK AND REFLECTING ON EVERYTHING I’VE LEARNED. You probably already knew that, though. We are constantly growing and changing. It’s unbelievable the progress we can make when we give into the transformation process. We’re not the person we were two years ago, two months ago, or even two DAYS ago. Well, hopefully not…I guess that’s a choice we have to make. It’s up to us. We get to decide whether we want to do better and be better. And, if you ask me, that’s a no brainer! Growth is good. Change is good. And, it’s safe to say I learned a whole, whole lot this past year. This blog post is about the 23 things I learned in 2017.
The way I see it…we have two options in life. We can either avoid change/growth or we can get flexible and bend a little.
I started this year on the verge of depression—silently suffering from anxiety.
I was stressed and unsure of what the next chapter of my life would look like. Working with my dad and selling insurance until I got my speaking/blogging going full-time was no longer an option. What would I do? Teach? Coach? I had no idea.
The stress continued to build.
The racing thoughts gained speed.
I didn’t sleep and I didn’t want to talk to people.
I felt angry and on edge all the time—extremely irritable.
It wasn’t until the physical symptoms worsened that I spoke up. I couldn’t breathe. My chest constantly felt like it was going to explode—heart racing even at rest.
I’m thankful for the physical symptoms because that’s when I knew something wasn’t right, and that’s what (literally by the grace of God) forced me to speak up. And, the moment I did, I felt free.
Not healed, FREE—free from a burden I’d been dealing with for a very, very long—and I finally began the healing process.
I’m not going to pretend like this wasn’t the hardest year of my life because I can’t. It was hard—really hard. And yet, in hindsight, I can’t help but PRAISE GOD for His divine hand in it all. The compassion He showed me, the patience and GRACE He showered on me.
Looking back at all the upsets and frustrations, I see His protection over my life and I’m thankful. I’m thankful He took care of me and tended to my heart and my spiritual needs rather than the desires of my flesh and what my emotions wanted. His healing hands shielded me and He has taken a very difficult year and used it for my good and His glory.
One of the things I love most about blogging is that I have the opportunity to look back on everything I’ve learned and all God has taught me in written form. Each blog post I write is written because of the struggles and challenges I have faced and/or are currently facing.
I hope and pray that by sharing the 23 things I learned in 2017, you find yourself feeling encouraged, inspired, challenged, and confident you are not alone in your struggles.
Because we’re all in this thing together.
23 Things I Learned in 2017
1. It’s okay to not be okay. Life just plain stinks sometimes and things aren’t always okay. But, even then, we shouldn’t suffer in silence. We’re allowed to ask for help and it’s very important that we do. Letting things build up inside us without seeking help from our loved ones can be detrimental.
2. Oftentimes, the darkest and most confusing times in our lives, the moments that broke us into a million pieces, are the very same moments that God used to purposefully protect us.
3. My identity is not found in the opinions of others. One person’s opinion of me does not define who I am or my worth. The thoughts and opinions of others, even those that flatter us, will never satisfy us. When we get too caught up in what others think of us, we lose sight of our eternal value.
4. God wants to be #1 in my life, no ifs, ands, or buts. If losing an earthly treasure means gaining a greater appreciation for the character of our King, then we should, by all means, be willing to make that sacrifice.
5. It’s much better to try something and not succeed than to never take any risks and avoid being vulnerable.
6. Budgeting is important. But, it’s also important to remember that you can budget while simultaneously giving yourself permission to live, have fun, and go on adventures. Don’t punish yourself just because you’re not where you want to be.
7. Hindsight really is 20/20. In order to better understand our circumstances, we have to continue pressing forward because it is only by moving ahead that we are able to affirm the reality of what once was.
8. In order to heal, we have to allow ourselves to go through the grieving process. We have to let ourselves experience the proper emotions we need to experience (sadness, and even anger) so we can move on. Unless we go through the entire healing process, we’ll never get past the pain. Not tending to every human emotion and avoiding the truth will only cause the pain to heighten.
9. Age doesn’t matter when it comes to passion. If you want to do something, do it. Don’t let your age keep you from doing things out of the ordinary. Being young is not the same thing as being ineffective.
10. Progress is progress. No matter how slow your journey feels at times, when you take a step back and reflect on the overall timeframe, you’ll see just how far you’ve come. Appreciate and celebrate the small victories.
11. Words matter and can be detrimental if not tended to carefully. It’s better to remain silent and wish you had said something than to speak in anger and wish you hadn’t.
12. You really do reap what you sow. There’s no avoiding it or way around it. It’s not something you can fix later on. The seeds you plant and harvest now will show up later in life. Make sure you’re harvesting a crop you’re proud of.
13. It’s okay to change your mind. If you decide to turn around or take a different route in the middle of your pursuit, that’s not a crime.
14. Forgiveness is freeing. When you refuse to forgive those who have hurt you, it hardens your heart and bitterness takes form. So, when given the choice between forgiveness and bitterness, we should always choose to forgive. Seventy times seven. Then, we can (and should!) love from afar.
15. Loving people the way Jesus did means getting uncomfortable for the sake of the Gospel.
16. Inconveniences are not only necessary for Christ-centered work, they’re mandatory. Kingdom work requires sacrifice.
17. God provides our daily bread. We often ask Him (or expect Him) to provide our monthly bread or yearly bread, but that removes our need to rely on Him each new day.
FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS
18. We’re called to be faithful at all times, regardless of our circumstances. We’re called to believe and have hope…against all hope…just like Abraham.
19. Don’t worry about the people who don’t get you and misunderstand you. The people who love you won’t mind your quirks and they won’t question your sincerity. They also won’t try to change you. Accept others. Accept yourself…just as you are.
20. God will never fail us. His love is steadfast and sure and true. Human love is very frail. It will never satisfy us the way Jesus can and does. Don’t rely on a person to give you what only the God in Three Persons can provide.
21. Support the things you love and care about. Show up for those things and those people always. If it’s important to you, make time for it.
22. Obstacles must be faced head-on and handled with grace and determination. They’re not meant to stop us. They’re simply meant to prove our passion and grit.
FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS
23. What’s meant to be will be…in God’s time and in God’s way. Our limited perception during times of uncertainty highlights a God whose plans are certain. Our present circumstances do not disprove His presence. Never underestimate the unseen work God is doing in your life. We cannot see what God sees and we do not know what God knows. The obscurity of our vision only magnifies the clarity of God’s. Trust that He is doing far more than the human eye can see.
As I reflect on the 23 things I learned in 2017, the losses I’ve experienced, and the disappointments I’ve faced, I can humbly say I wouldn’t change a single thing.
Coming to know my Savior a little more than before and finding my ultimate satisfaction in Him—these things make every heartbreak and mishap worth it.
Push through the pruning seasons.
The time for you to bloom and blossom will come.
Maybe not today or tomorrow, but it will come.
And you will be so genuinely happy when it does.
I’m still not where I want to be, not just as a speaker or blogger, but as a disciple. And, I hope that is always the case. I hope I never become complacent and repulsed by the sanctification process or the transformation process. Through everything, I hope to continue pursuing my Savior and seeking to know Him a little more than I did before. Even when it’s hard. Even when it doesn’t make sense.
I began this year on the verge of depression.
And, by the grace of God, I’m ending it in a really, really good place.
2018, I hope you’re my year. But, even if you’re not, I’ll be giving you everything I’ve got anyway.
FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the 23 things I learned in 2017! What lessons did you learn? Share them with us in the comments below!