2017 was quite a year.
I found a renewed trust and intimacy with God, I found success with the blog, I blessed others as well as they had blessed me, and I experienced great love and loss. I’m sure that as you’re reading this, you’re nodding your head in agreement that we share a very similar story—last year was a year of ups and downs. In the ups and downs and bad news and good news, I picked up quite a few lessons. One night, I felt compelled to write down these lessons, mainly so that I can reflect upon them throughout the year, but also because I feel like God wants me to pass a few of them along. While some of these lessons seem obvious and are in fact lessons that I’ve learned before, I believe that we can learn the same lessons in different ways and as we live and grow, we may apply them differently at 35 than we did at 22. I strongly believe that we gain wisdom from receiving lessons from others so as I share my truths, I would love for you to share yours in the comments. Here we go:
Happiness doesn’t just happen…you have to create it
This was such a major lesson for me. And honestly, I don’t know that it was a lesson as much as it was an “aha moment” (thanks for this term Auntie Oprah). I spend a lot of time pouring into the lives of others and because I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing others win, I think that at some point I had mistaken this satisfaction for personal happiness. I sat down one day and thought about the things that I had done personally to create happiness in my own life and I had close to nothing. From that moment, I accepted that it was on me to create streams of happiness in my life—not my husband, not my children, and not my friends.
Love takes on different forms. Sometimes it’s more action that feeling.
As a culture, we’ve accepted this lie that if you don’t feel something, then it isn’t real. This lie has damaged more relationships than we could ever imagine. There will be times, with your spouse, with your friends, even with God, where you don’t feel the love in the traditional, super-feely way. It doesn’t mean that the love is void. Love is a verb just as much as it’s a noun and when you can still show love even when you don’t “feel” it, then you’ve tapped into the best type of love— the unconditional kind.
Fear is hardly ever motivational…at least not for children.
I have a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old and they teach me so much—mostly things about myself. I’m sure my husband would agree. If you’re a parent then you know that there is a never-ending balancing act of positive reinforcement and punishment that can sometimes keep you awake at night. I’ve watched my children and their responses to different things a lot this year and the one thing that seems to do more harm than good: fear. My husband and I have agreed to move away from shouting and making silly idle threats and other things tied to fear-based parenting because they really just don’t work. We want to raise strong, respectful, open-minded, productive humans and fear-based discipline does not always lead to that. It can be so easy to say my parents did it this way, so that’s what I’m going to do too but it takes real courage to admit that there may be a better way. I’m sure I’ll talk about this more later.
Death is real…but so is God’s grace.
It had been a few years since I’d lost a loved one but the loss of my grandfather last year was a sobering reminder that death is a definite for each of us. We see RIP on Facebook posts but when it finally affects someone you know, it suddenly somehow becomes real. In my grief, God’s grace was more evident than ever. He has a way of making the most difficult moments in life seem okay if you’re open to seeking Him.
You can never help people that aren’t ready to help themselves.
This was a resounding message for me last year on several occasions. I tend to have what I’ve heard others label as “savior syndrome”. I try to help everyone that I can, anytime that I can, sometimes at my own expense. No matter how much I want to help and no matter how emotionally invested I am, there’s not enough help and care in the world to help the people that aren’t ready to be helped. This is a truth that I’ve learned to accept. Prayer in a lot of cases is the best help that you can offer because Jesus has the power to fix heart issues that we don’t even have the wisdom to see.
Procrastination, especially in the face of something very difficult, leads to holes that are very difficult to get out of.
Procrastination is the root of so many problems. This was mainly a lesson that I learned from observation but it is one of the most important. Problems deserve solutions and they deserve them quickly.
Learning who you are and learning to live your best life at every moment is the key to maintaining happiness.
I am learning to be more present, to not allow my smartphone to run my life, and to embrace the moments that bring me joy. It’s so easy to get lost in being a wife, mom, blogger, and entrepreneur and I don’t want to miss out on who I am and the things that make me happy. It’s better to live than exist.
Asking for help is a good thing.
This one is self-explanatory but asking for helping and seeking sound advice is a necessary part of life. I’ll be doing a whole lot more of this in 2018.
Most people have a motive for being a part of your life. It is your responsibility to discern what it is early, acknowledge it and move forward in saying yes or no to their presence in your life.
Guys, this lesson is another one of my favorites. If you like to network and meet new people, understand that everyone has a motive. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Some people want to connect to learn and create a friendship but there are some people that want to connect to see what they can gain from your presence. There are also people that desire to hurt you. When you live with the discernment of Holy Spirit, people will always reveal their intentions to you. When they do, make a quick decision about whether or not they need to be a part of your life and act accordingly. This could save you a headache in the long run.
“No” can be liberating.
‘No’ is a complete sentence. I’ll say it again. ‘No’ is a complete sentence. A long-winded explanation of why you will not do something is not always necessary. Let 2018 be the year that you stop agreeing to obligations that don’t fit into your lifestyle or only feed your people-pleasing habit. I know—that was very direct but the truth with set you free and believe me, as I speak to you I’m speaking to myself as well.
These lessons have been so valuable to me and I hope that they prove to be valuable to you as well. Do you have a lesson from 2017 that you would like to share? Drop a line in the comments! I would love to learn from you!
Here’s to a Christ-led, well-lived, wisdom-seeking 2018!