2016 has been a year filled with learning and growth. I have loved, lived and changed. I’ve grown in some areas and I have so much more growing to do. I’ve been humbled and come to some realizations. Here are some things I’ve learnt compiled into a few short paragraphs.
1.) Certain? Life is not.
We live in a broken world and I do not understand it. In fact, the more I learn, the more I realize how clueless I am to what goes on around. I am privileged and blessed and I have been given so much, but yet it is so easy for me to look at everything that I don’t have. Not that I’m terrible, but I think that it is a product of the world that we live in, a culture that we are fed. I do not understand everything and I will never. Last year I was struggling with being able to study, convinced my brain had stopped working under the stress and so I went to CBT for a few sessions and one of the outcomes was the therapist suggesting that I am a black and white thinker, which I would probably have to agree with, meaning that in my thinking and ideals I can go from one extreme to the other, not leaving too much room in between for solid reason. An example: if I can’t do something and contribute 100%, then why do at all? Its either 0% or 100%. But alas that is rarely the case for life situations, I am learning. Black and white answers are not the norm, but rather answers in varying shades of grey. I’m learning that being able to cope with plans and situations and people that change is of massive importance and how you react to things that don’t turn out your way is as much an indicator of your character as how you perform in situations where everything goes like you thought it would. There is not too much certainty as to how some people will act or how some situations will turn out and recognizing that is uncomfortable and makes me feel edgy, knowing that I can’t count on certainty to be a solid friend, but also recognizing that might be a sign that I am maturing and my mind is opening.
2.) Simple things are wonderful.
I have learnt that simple things are of massive importance and while at one stage I may have wanted to lose the wonder and innocence of a childlike state, I think that having innocence and not knowing everything is a trait that brings much peace of mind and is worth pursuing. I think that being a youth, there is hunger to absorb knowledge, to know and do things we have not been permitted to know and do in younger years. But I think that with knowledge and with actions there is a cost.
3.) Now is our moment.
It is a string of small moments knitted together that make a day, a month, a year and so it burdens my heart to squeeze the life out of each tender space in time – to take steps and do things that scare me, things that require effort today, because this is the chance I have to do them. In the now, this is who I am today and the thoughts that I think in these treasured pockets of time and the actions that I undertake will live on with me, whether or not I like it.
4.) My mind v. God’s word.
One thing that is really changing the way that I function is to bring God’s word into the situations that encapsulate me. This year has been a year where I’ve learnt that not always are my thoughts to be trusted, a conclusion that looks a bit terrifying, seeing as I have my mind to accompany me 24/7, all the time. But this has driven me to another conclusion: sometimes I think ‘what can I rely on for truth?’ and the answer is simple: God’s word. And his word tells me not to be anxious about anything but to pray about everything and so I’m learning to do that: to lift the situations that surround me up in prayer, to surrender my right to control and to figure out and to ‘let go and let God’. I say I’m learning because I am. It’s not always my first port of call to wrestle with the things that bug me before God, but He is good and I can always trust Him. He is always waiting. Even when I don’t know what to say, sometimes it’s just okay to sit in His presence, to cry and to let myself be healed.
5.) There is purpose in pain.
God’s healing power has shown up this year. At one point, earlier in the year I was hurting, not that I’m hurt free now but it had a dominating power over my life. I acknowledge the fact that the pain I have experienced is not but a fraction of the pain some others have felt, but nevertheless I have learnt a small bit about pain (I’m sure there is lots more I’ll be taught!). I read a devotional where the author articulated that pain has a purpose: if we were sick and had no pain, we would be unaware of our sickness and so would not seek healing or medical care, which would, of course, be detrimental to our health. So in order to be healthy, pain is to be accepted and to be felt and we are to be healed. Our pain is a chance for God to transform us, to show Himself to us in a new way and to glorify Him. And so I got the chance to sit and to cry out to Him, to desperately plead for him to stitch my wounds together and to let him open up my hurts, clean them out with antiseptic and let the sore take its time to heal. I learned to sit before Him and feel the pain and to accept the change and growth that healing brings.
6.) Laughter is lovely.
Seriously. Sometimes I can be so serious but it’s good to have fun. To spend these precious days filled with laughing, sometimes just about ridiculous things that don’t make sense. One of the best feelings is an aching belly after a good, hearty laugh. And the way a persons’ eyes can glow alive after a good fit of laughter is an attractive thing.
There’s definitely more I’ve learnt in the past few months that is still unwritten but I like the way that when I look back on these words in a few months, or a few years which I’m sure I will (hello future me!!), I will be flung back into this moment and remember the place I was at this year.