This past year was one of the toughest, but the most rewarding year I have had thus far.
I began the year on a low note to be honest. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t content, I was exhausted (mentally, physically, and emotionally), I was at my whit’s end.
In one word, I was tired.
My spiritual life wasn’t where it needed to be, but I wasn’t sure how to change it. I felt stuck, overwhelmed, and completely out of control.
I felt like I had been thrown into the driver’s seat of my life except I had no clue how to drive or where I was going. It felt like life was happening to me, and I was losing a little bit more of myself the further down the road I got. I reached a breaking point toward the end of January and decided to do the Daniel Fast.
I will talk about this fast and how it changed my life in another post, but for now I want to talk about the lessons I have learned this year.
The spirit world was active this year. Whether you’re a believer or not, I doubt you can deny that some things shifted and some light bulbs went off. Even Kylie Jenner said 2016 was the year of realizing stuff. Some relationships had to come to an end, some people exposed their true colors, some opportunities fell through or took off, some plans were brought to fruition or completely destroyed, some big things happened – good and bad.
I was not unaware of the shifting, and I was heavily affected by it. I learned the art of introspection and was stretched beyond what I thought I’d be able to handle. Yahweh increased my capacity this year, and because I have more room to receive, I am expecting great things in 2017. Here are a few things I realized in the past 12 months that I am taking with me.
- Relationships don’t fix loneliness – Not just loneliness in the romantic sense, but the everything We all have moments when we want someone to soothe the sting of being alone. It can become chaffing sometimes, always being by yourself. Sometimes we just want another body nearby. But I have learned that a gnawing sense of loneliness and an unwillingness to be alone with yourself is a sign of inward discontent. If you don’t enjoy your own company, or are not at least at peace with yourself, then always being with people won’t ever fix that. A best friend or a boo won’t fix that. A husband or a wife won’t fix that. Overcoming loneliness is an inside job that requires your hard work, not anyone else’s.
- Building an intimate spiritual relationship takes time – Oddly, I found myself very discouraged when I started praying more and drawing near to Yahweh. I felt like He didn’t want to speak to me because while I was changing my habits and my mindset, my circumstances remained the same. Drawing close to Yahweh also exposes insecurity and forces honesty. I didn’t realize until later that just like any relationship, it takes time to recognize someone’s voice and grow to trust them. It was a hard climb up but I had to stay consistent in my pursuit of Yahweh and in my study of His Word, no matter how uncomfortable it made me. I fell off sometimes, but overall we’ve gotten so much closer and I’m excited about the things He will reveal to me in His time.
- Yahweh loves us uniquely, not equally – I stole this quote from Lisa Bevere’s book, “Without Rival”, and it is the absolute truth. Yahweh doesn’t speak to us all the same way. Some dream, some hear an audible voice, some have visions or receive prophetic words, some are Bible scholars and have a miraculous gift for communicating and interpreting scripture. Yahweh speaks to me through words. Every blog post I write is born from time spent with Yahweh and Him revealing himself to me, ministering to me through I am humbled by His love for me. He cares enough about me to communicate with me in a way that is so special to me, so unique, and so powerful. He desires a one-of-a-kind relationship with each and every one of us, and the one He has with me is changing my life.
- Comparison is deadly – Theodore Roosevelt had it right when he said comparison is the thief of joy. I had a nasty habit of looking at what Yahweh was doing in other people’s lives and growing anxious instead of focusing on what He wanted to do in mine. In building my relationship with Him, I have to constantly remind myself that my walk is my walk, and their walk is their walk. My journey is not their journey, therefore I do not need the provision they have. I was called to be exactly where I am, therefore I am graced for this place. My destiny is unique, unrivaled, and must be fulfilled by me, and me alone. It’s so easy to be swept away by comparison, but trust me when I say contentment will never come if you never embrace your place.
- Buried gifts don’t go away, they corrode your insides – Yahweh has been telling me to start a blog for years. I was so wrapped up in my own issues and priorities that I didn’t start it until this June. As soon as I posted my first piece, I knew I was doing the right thing. I’m supposed to write, and I didn’t for years because I was afraid, and I made it all about me instead of all about purpose. As a result, I constantly felt disconnected from myself, always restless, always searching for the thing I had chosen to bury instead of use. Communication is a gift that Yahweh has given to me, and I am vowing to dedicate my life to multiplying this gift.
- Follow the peace – I made one major decision this year that I know will change the course of my future. From the outside, it looks crazy. I know it does because I have a practical, human side that sees everything through fleshly eyes, no faith in sight, and it knows it was crazy. But through my spiritual eyes, I can see that it was the right decision. I have a peace that I can’t explain, and no matter how rough it gets, no matter how negative my thoughts get, no matter how low my spirit drops or how dejected I feel, I cannot shake the unmistakable presence of a miraculous peace that literally lays all my fear and doubt to rest. It’s this peace that keeps me sane, it’s this peace that holds me together, it’s this peace that I’m following into my destiny.
- People won’t always understand your purpose – I used to really fear being misunderstood. I felt isolated and rejected when others didn’t understand where I was coming from, or why I was making certain decisions, but I’ve realized that there must come a point when you stop explaining yourself to people. Not everyone deserves an explanation, and every time you open yourself up to scrutiny through explanation, you invite doubt and negativity. You don’t need the approval of the masses to do what Yahweh has called you to do, in fact opposition is often an indication that you’re doing something right. People I love have told me I’m making a huge mistake, and I have had to understand that people won’t always get it. Everyone isn’t meant to grasp the vision or speak into my future, and I will no longer be offended when they don’t.
- Take note of who and what feeds you – I wasted a lot of time this year on worthless hobbies and meaningless conversations. I won’t beat myself up over it, but I will do better next year. I was convicted more than once about the way I was choosing to spend my time. I watched way too much television, YouTube can be my Achilles Heel, Pinterest is like a black hole sometimes, social media is literally the place where intentionality and proper time management go to die. For some reason Yahweh had to open my eyes to what I was consuming, and force me to filter out a lot of things. I have adjusted my sensory intake (tv shows, music, who I follow on social media), and it has been hard but necessary. We think who and what we allow ourselves to be in the presence of won’t affect us, but it does. Your circle has to adjust as you grow, or elevation won’t happen as quickly or as high as it could. There will be seasons when the excess ‘fat’ must be trimmed away in order for Yahweh to fully move and work in your life, and that’s okay. Anything that is moved in this season won’t be necessary in the next. You have to believe you have all you need to go forward.
- Purpose is isolating – In a good and a bad way. Bad in the way I just described in that you may lose hobbies, interests, or relationships you want to hold on to, but good in the sense that it will be just you and Yahweh. In times when people don’t get it, or nights when everyone is asleep and you don’t feel led to slide into anyone’s DM’s with that “you up?” text, Yahweh’s ears are always open. I don’t have a sleeping problem, so when I can’t sleep there’s a reason. So I roll out of my bed and onto my fluffy rug, and I pray. I love my bed, more than I can express, but I feel so close to Yahweh during these times – times when I choose to run to Him instead of people, when I choose to share my late night thoughts and ask His opinion on things. I don’t know about you, but when one of my friends hits me with that “you up?” text, I feel honored. I think Yahweh does too when we decide to bend His ear.
- Yahweh is a good, good Father – That song worked on me for weeks before it completely wrecked me, and it would be months before I fully understood why my spirit connected so deeply with it. Yahweh revealed Himself to me this year as Father, not formally, but personally. He’s my Daddy. He loves me more than anyone ever could, He cares about me. He cares about what makes me cry at night, He cares about what wraps me up in worry, He cares about my dreams, He cares when I’m hurt. He cares about every single aspect of who I am. I am fully defined by His love, and when all else is stripped away from me, I am His daughter and I’m loved by Him. That’s it. That’s who I am. And in this season of turmoil where everything that could be shaken has been shaken (and is still being shaken), that remains. The totality of my identity is rooted in the fact that I am a loved daughter of Yahweh.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are a couple of the big ones. I would absolutely LOVE it if you all would take the time to share this post including the hashtag #2016TaughtMe, and post something that you learned this year. I think evaluation is extremely important, and growth usually follows. Let’s all take a look back and find the lessons in this past year.
Also, THANK YOU to everyone who has read any part of any of these posts, those of you who continue to share them and encourage me to keep writing. And thank you to those of you who have had the courage to reach out to me letting me know that I’ve had an impact on you. You have absolutely no idea how much your words mean to me. We will continue being human over here on the blog.
Only bigger and better things are ahead.