I have never felt the urge to sit down and write about the lessons God has taught me over a course of time let alone a whole year but here I am on a Monday night reflecting over the lessons I have learned this year. You see, my year started off the way it always has, pretty normal, rang in the New Year with friends, had the traditional New Years day meal and watched football. Work was going great and there was nothing out of the ordinary, just normal day-to-day activities like going to work, hanging out with friends, church and community group stuff. No black clouds on the horizon warning me that my life was about to be changed in more ways than I could ever or will ever know.
One day I am laughing and joking with coworkers and the next day I, along with half my team and department, has been laid off and there isn’t any real time to say goodbye. The first thing I learned is that everything can be going great for you one minute and then in the next your world is turned upside down and you can’t remember how to stand up straight or figure out what to hold onto. That is what happened to me. The next thing I learned is that it is possible to breathe and survive emotional and mental pain without succumbing to that pain when in fact at the time you thought it would in fact be the end of you. I remember seeing and hearing everything going on around me and only being able to process maybe 5% of what was going on and what I should be doing. In those first few days it is much thanks to my friends that I even got out of bed and tried to do anything. Luckily they all understood that while I was there physically, mentally and emotionally I was somewhere else. They stayed so very supportive and I owe them so much for that support and love. Our bodies and soul are amazingly resilient thanks to the way God wonderfully designed us.
The next thing I learned was that God is in all circumstances and that He will never leave you. I have grown up in church my entire life and so I know I have heard that God will get you through your “storms of life” more times that I can count. I have been truly blessed because while I have been through my own storms and storms affecting my family nothing had truly affected me so personally. I think that is why this threw me for such a loop. God had to teach me how to rely on Him in ways I never really have before. He deepened my relationship with Him and continues to do that even today. Another thing I learned is that God does not always stop your storm instead He stays with you in the midst of it. It’s not so scary that way. He will walk, run, skip and dance with you throughout any storm you go through, all you have to do is turn to Him. He never moves, we do. So if you feel like He isn’t there, ask yourself who moved. I guarantee that He is there waiting for you to turn back to Him and ask for His help. He is just and faithful to forgive us and will be very quick to step in and be your constant support. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9”
Another thing I learned is that I am so much stronger than I have ever given myself credit for. This isn’t to say that I have not had bad days where I did exactly opposite of what I should have. In fact, too much of my time this year has been wasted worrying and being hurt by what happened to me. I kept asking “why me” as the victim instead of “why me” as an obedient child of God’s and listening to His calling for my life. He has a plan and purpose for my life. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:11-12”. Truthfully, I have been so worried about that future that I missed all the blessings in my life right now in my present. There is a Steven Curtis Chapman song, Yours, and in this song he is proclaiming that everything in this world is God’s; every child in Africa, every street in London, every star in the universe. Everything is God’s, even me. I have learned that the plans we make for our lives are so different from God’s plan for it. We need to tune in to God and quit trying to limit Him. If everything is His and He controls it all, then why should we try and limit what He wants for our life. Because we are scared? That’s not a good excuse. He asks us to trust Him and I have always heard it said “it is safer to be in the will of God than to be outside of it”. One day while listening to this song I began crying because I realized that I have limited Him. For so long I have been trying to control everything and wondering why I was so tired and run down. I am not meant to control my life, He is. I am supposed to be obedient and follow Him.
Do I know what my future holds? No. But of one thing I am certain, my Heavenly Father does and He will guide me if I am willing to let Him. This means getting out of His way. Something else I have learned, is to “Let go and Let God”. Now that being said, it is definitely easier to say that than to do it, but we serve an amazing God who will forgive us when we try and take back that control. There are still so many questions that don’t have answers yet. I am starting to learn that His timing and my timing are two different timelines and His is so much better. This has been a year that God has become more of the focus in my life and I can only pray that it continues. I want nothing more that for Him to be the center of my life so that everything is purely blessings from Him and that I can give Him all the glory for those things in my life and that I may serve Him in some small way with my life. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18”. I have learned how to thank Him for this season in my life. Is it easy to do? No. Is it getting better? Yes, it is. Will there be more storms? Most definitely. But I will ride through those storms with Him and will thank Him in the midst of them. To borrow a line from a Mark Shultz song, “He has all the strength I will ever need, He will carry me”. Praise God that that is true!
So, it is safe to say that 2009 is ending very differently than I thought it would when 2009 began. It is been a year full of heartache, disappointment and pain but it has also been a year of love, grace, mercy and God’s faithfulness. This year is now a part of my past and I am living now in my present and enjoying where I am now and that leads to one more thing I have learned about my past, present and future. My past is gone but its lessons helped make me who I am and that is a stronger, better me. My present is my now and it is what I should be enjoying. I had always let my past continually haunt and hurt me and that was a trap of the evil one. I also used to worry too much about why I hadn’t gotten those things I wanted and wondered when I would get them in my future. I had worried so much that I forgot about living in my present and I was missing so much of my life. God knows my future. I will begin leaving my past in my past and accept God’s forgiveness for all those sins and let God take care of my future. My job is to be here in my present life and trust Him to guide me through my life. So, would I go back and change this year if I could? No, I would not! I am so thankful for what God has taught me and look forward to what He has in store for me.