This post was inspired by Katie Gregoire’s YouTube video “What I Learned When I was 17” . That video really caused me to think about this past year and the many things God has been teaching me. It’s been a full year, and so many things have changed — I’m not the same person I was a year ago. For that, I am very thankful. I’m learning and growing and turning into the person God is calling me to be, and that’s an incredibly exciting process.
1. Change Can Be Positive — If someone were to ask me what my biggest fear is, my honest answer would probably be change. This year though, God has repeatedly reminded me of all the ways He can use change for good and has taught me to trust in Him more than I ever did before.
2. “Lay down what’s good, and find what’s best” — These are lyrics that from the bridge of the Johnny Diaz song “Breathe” that really resonate with my heart. Multiple times in the past year, God has asked me to lay down something that I didn’t want to let go of. I would argue back, “God! That’s a good thing! Why wouldn’t you want me to get rid of that!” But He’s been so faithful in gently reminding me that He doesn’t want me to live a “good” life but rather an abundant life. Life to the fullest. And only He knows what that truly looks like. So I should trust Him.
3. It’s okay to not be okay — Sometimes there’s hard days, and that’s okay. I learned that it’s okay to extend myself some extra grace sometimes and that I’m not a failure for having hard days.
4. Love comes in many different forms — I learned this year that love looks different for different people at different times. Sometimes it looks like giving advice and actively helping a person, while other times it looks like sitting with them quietly or holding them while they cry. Love doesn’t always look the same, because love is not one specific thing. Love is the action of putting that person above yourself and doing anything possible to ensure that they’re taken care of.
5. Makeup isn’t a bad thing — I like wearing makeup. I like trying different things with my eyeshadow and new lipstick colors. And that’s not bad or wrong. I used to feel guilty for always putting it on because I was “hiding how God made me” or “not confident”. But that’s the farthest from the truth! I go out of the house without makeup all the time, but I enjoy wearing it when I have time for it, and that’s okay! Makeup is a way for me to express myself, and that is totally fine. Makeup is not evil.
6. I’m beautifully flawed — God calls me to righteousness, to holiness, to be like His perfect Son. But I’m not perfect, and never can be, and He knows that. However, He is able to take my brokenness and make it into something beautiful. Through my flaws and failings, He’s able to work for good by allowing me to relate with others, allowing me to truly learn about His love and grace, and to be an example for why we need Him in our lives.
7. Some dreams die, that doesn’t mean they were wasted — This year, my whole life has turned upside down. Things I never thought I would quit, I had no choice but to quit. Things that had been my dreams for more than half my life suddenly were not options because of my health. I spent literally thousands of hours of my life on hobbies that were suddenly obsolete. But I don’t regret the time I spent. I don’t regret the joy that they brought me. I don’t regret the self discipline or the hard work that I learned. And just because my dream is gone, doesn’t mean God didn’t use that in my life.
8. Confidence doesn’t come from pleasing people — Confidence comes from being sure in your identity. Knowing who you are and knowing that is enough. You can never please everyone. Trust me, I’ve tried. It’s exhausting, and never works. It hair made me even more insecure. God taught me this year that I have to not worry about what they think, and instead be sure of who He has made me to be. Because He calls me loved and priceless and His. In Him, I am more than enough, and knowing that is how I have truly found my confidence.
9. This world needs Jesus more than I need anything — This hit me hard on Easter Sunday. This world is finite. My days here are limited. And when my life here is through, I have abundant life in eternity to look forward to. So why am I stressing about building a life for myself here? Everything I have should be poured into spreading the gospel with the limited time I have on this earth. I should be willing to sacrifice money, time, comfort, and everything else to make sure everyone has a chance to know Jesus and His saving power.
10. God doesn’t shine light on the whole path, just the next step — I am a planner. I want to see everything planned out perfectly on paper before I take the first step. But God doesn’t work like that. He calls us to have faith. He says “Go here” and doesn’t answer how, why, for how long, or any of the other dozens of questions filling my mind. He just says go. But He has always been faithful, and so its my job to go, and trust that He knows what He is doing.
11. To have strength to pour out to others, I have to let God pour into me — I learned his working as a camp counselor last summer. I was running off of 5 hours of sleep or less most days, and had six middle school girls looking to me for every need and also to be their role model and confidant. I had zero strength left by the end of the week. I didn’t want to have patience and didn’t feel like I had anything left to pour out to those girls. Then God showed me that I didn’t have that strength, but He did. I needed to allow Him to fill me with His strength so that I could share some of it with the people around me.
12. Joy isn’t a feeling — Joy is the fulfillment and peace that comes from knowing and trusting in God. It’s the absence of worry. It’s knowing that no matter what happens on this earth, Christ is coming back to claim the victory. Sometimes I don’t “feel” joyful. Sometimes life is hard and I want to burst into tears. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have joy. In this world, we will have trouble, but we can have joy knowing that God has overcome this world and that in the end, it’s all going to be okay.
13. God doesn’t follow the timeline the world wants to set for my life — I will be attending college next fall, and according to the world around me, admissions counselors, teachers, I should have figured out what university I was going to a long time ago. But you know what? I didn’t feel ready to make that decision until just two weeks ago. God kept telling me to wait, that He would show me. Now, I don’t know why He waited until March to show me, but I know that God’s timing is always best, and I can trust it, even if the world doesn’t like that answer. I don’t have to be panicked, He’s got it under control.
14. When I ask God to give me faith, He will, but it won’t be easy — I found the entry in my journal today. On May 22, 2015, I prayed that God would fill me with faith. That He would take me to a desolate place where I had to learn to rely on Him because He was all I had. Now, I don’t want to make my life out to be a horror story. My life is great. But a lot of crazy things have happened this year that I never would have expected. Changes I didn’t see coming, choices I knew I needed to make that I never would have thought I would make. And I know that God is answering my prayer. That answer has not been easy or fun. But it has grown my faith in Him in astounding ways, and for that, it’s been totally worth it.
15. Think of reasons to be happy, not sad — Let’s be honest, we all have bad days. There’s days I want to just wallow in self pity. Days that I want to think I have a reason to be selfish because of all the bad things going on in my life. But even if I let myself believe that, my situation isn’t going to change. I can’t change my circumstances, but I can change my attitude. Instead of making a list of all the bad things going on and the reasons to pity myself, I’ve learned to count my blessings. Even if it sounds small and insignificant. Sometimes when I get in the car after a long day at work, all I can think of to be thankful for is “Thank you, God, that my car has gas in it.” Or “Thank you, God, that it’s over now” but giving thanks for even small things can change my attitude very quickly, and it’s so worth it.
16. God gives the strength for each day as I come to it — God didn’t drop all the strength I need for my whole life at my feet on the day I was born, He instead gives each ounce of strength as I need it, causing me to need to rely on Him every day.
17. Praying out loud over someone is so powerful — I’ve experienced this multiple times this year. One of the best things I’ve ever experienced having someone do for me is pray over me. Prayer in and of itself is so powerful, but there’s something special about praying out loud over someone else. I’ve been on both ends of this kind of prayer, and it’s incredible every time. It can feel awkward at first, but it’s so amazing.
All in all, I’m seeing a common thread running through what God has been teaching me this year — trust Him, and have faith. He wants me to know that He has everything under control, whether that’s college, relationships, my health, confidence, strength… I can trust Him with all of it. I’m so looking forward to the next year of my life. I know it’ll probably not be anything like I expect, but I know that God will keep being faithful, and that’s really all I need to know. 18, bring it on:)