9. Reassess, then decide what to do - this year I gave myself the opportunity to reassess several opportunities in my life. I reevaluated the results I got from my commitment and I prayerfully reconsidered my commitment. I wrote about Focused Volunteering and how important is to know your skill set and time limitation. I used that for volunteering (it works wonders!) and I used that in relationships. Another sphere I didn’t explore in my previous blog post is the fact that you can also evaluate the results of all the effort you put into something then you decide what to do. It does not mean you are a quitter. It does not mean you are abandoning friendships and volunteering opportunities for the sake of convenience. It simply means you are reassessing the investment you made and you get to vote that if based on the return you will continue with the commitment. Reassessing is freeing.
10. Focus on the inner life - I learned once again and focusing on my inner life is the most important thing I can do every day. God has to be the priority and the focus, otherwise everything else falls apart. I know I can’t give what I don’t have so I rely on God to lead me and guide me in the way I should go. For years I’ve been monitoring the amount of negativity that I allow into my eyes and ears. It pays to pay close attention to God’s voice and to make that the majority of what goes into my heart. I find that perfection is not my focus but making the Bible I read functional is my aim. I also don’t care about being some type of spiritual super star. Someone else can have that position. I prefer to be painfully relatable, earthly good.
11. Be okay with who you are, where you are - I gave myself the option to stop comparing my life with the lives of others. I unfollowed folks for that reason and I did the inner work of disciplining myself to stay away from envy and jealousy. I found contentment at the end that road. I found that I had the option to be okay with who I am, where I am. This might be the best lesson of all. I actually got this advice during the summer from a sweet, Godly person. She told me it’d take time but I’m enjoying the process so far. I have always known I have nothing to prove and to put this into practice means that I get to choose to be okay with who I am, where I am. I have to tell you that this does not mean I am refusing to change. It does mean that I don’t live up to impossible stands. It means I get to be who God created to be and I get to grow in grace.
12. Some people are for themselves - I made the mistake of thinking that all people were “for us” or “for me.” The truth is that they are for themselves. This year, I didn’t write those dear people a letter. I just let them be for themselves. This quiet acceptance is quite freeing. It’s not easy, but it is freeing. My family and I are in the kind of business where people often count on us during hard time to remind them of how God is a very present help in times of trouble. The tough part is when people only need you when they’re down. Thankfully, God has given us friends who love at all times. As I allow some people to be for themselves, I make room for thankfulness to grow in my heart because some friends love at all times.
13. Ministry is not Glamorous - not for me anyway. I am reminded daily of this truth but to be honest, I should have known better. My father is a pastor so we grew up seeing what ministry really is like. There’s nothing glamorous about serving the Lord Jesus but still, I watched my parents fall more in love with God, no matter the price they paid. Taking 5 small kids to church by taking 4 buses is not glamorous. Bringing lunch and a snack so we stay there all day to save on time and bus fare is not glamorous. In my own life, the things we do in order to serve the God we love is not glamorous. I often have to unfollow, look away and simply not compare my life to the life of others. There’s nothing glamorous about ministry and my reward will always be God Himself.
14. Parent Prayerfully - a while ago I decided to stop reading parenting books and listening to multiple types of parenting advice. The truth is, there hasn’t been a book written that encompasses the 3 individuals I parent. There’s also an industry behind these books. While I believe that most authors mean well, I don’t think that there’s a better author than the Author and finisher of my faith. God gave me these kids so through prayer, I can parent with confidence. I also consult a lot with my husband and together we make decisions that fit the kids well. I find that multiple streams of parenting advice can be confusing. I was also blessed to find one parenting book other than the Bible that I agree with. There’s no need to add or take away from the direction I found. I still listen to the wisdom of mentors because I know that it takes a village. I am persuaded to involve God, the one who created my kids, in my parenting journey.
15. Finish well - I have learned the importance of finishing well. I had mixed feelings about my January marathon. I had cramps for half of the time but I did finish. I set out to have a different training season and I had no idea how different it would be. The old lesson remains: finish well. I ran my last long distance race for 2016 and with God’s help I finished well. I also completed other assignments in 2016 that were not easy. It always gets more challenging at the end and I kept telling myself “finish well because endings are more important than beginnings.” Finishing well at a professional or volunteer position means that I gave my best effort. I also finished well with people. I loved and served well. Finishing well is a lifelong lesson.
16. Keep Dreaming - Dreaming takes virtually no time and it makes an enormous difference in our lives. Dreaming costs absolutely nothing and it fills us with joy. Dreams feed the hope in us so it is important to take the time to dream. Dreams awaken the joy in us. I'm amazed at how God created us to dream and to find joy in it. I learned that when I feel that I am left with nothing, I still have my dreams. I have tapped into my dreams in 2016 and it has really helped me. It’s not a mystic thing, it’s just the simple act of using my imagination to dream about the better, the greater and the possible.
• 2016 Lessons Part 1
Previously in this series: