I’m a little late in writing this, as it is now ending the 6th day of 2015. But I’ve left this little space of mine for a while, and feel it is time to start writing again. So, as I contemplated what to write, reflected on this past year, I decided I would write about things I learned in 2014. Most people do this at the end of the year, but I’m nothing if not always late in most matters of my life.
I hope to look back on this at the end of 2015, God-willing I am blessed to live through it, and find that what I learned in 2014, I applied in 2015.
1. When you ask God to remove someone from your life if that person is not meant to come along with you on your journey, also ask God for the peace and understanding to cope when he answers that prayer by removing them. To accept the wisdom and knowledge that if you felt led to ask that of him, then deep down you already knew what his answer would be. Don’t act so surprised when he does.
2. I am an introvert. For years I heard these terms, introvert and extrovert. I never put much thought into it. What does it matter what I am? I would think. I always saw myself as being an extrovert, because I love people. I love having conversations, especially deep soulful ones, and I really don’t like being alone. I thought introvert was really just a term for an extremely shy person. And I’m not shy.
After reading on it, I discovered how wrong I was in that thinking, and that true characteristics of being an introvert fit me, and also explained a lot about me. Like the fact that even though I love people, I get exhausted after being in a group for too long. I do value deep conversations, but only with people who are in my little circle. A little circle because I find it more meaningful for me personally to have few close friends that I open myself up to fully, because I know it would exhaust me to have more than that.
That even though I’m not shy, I do tend to be reserved until I get to know you, and sometimes I don’t always want to get to know you. That last sentence sounds harsh, and snobbish, realize I don’t like this about myself, but it’s true. The list goes on but I will stop there as I don’t want this to turn into a post about being an introvert. One last thing I will say, for my friends that know me personally, if ever it seems that I’m shutting you out, or I go periods of not talking to you, it’s not personal. I have to be alone with myself at times, it’s how I refresh.
3. I really stink at being a friend-most of the time.
I’ve had friends and family go through physical, emotional, and spiritual pain this year. They’ve suffered in health, loss of loved ones, and various other trials. And though I wish I could say I was by their side through every bit of it, that is sadly not true. The only one who’s side I did not leave was my sons. I could tell you a long list of excuses, but ultimately it will always be just that-an excuse.
I pray often that the Lord will bring to light areas in myself that need improvement, things I don’t realize that I am either doing or not doing, this is one thing that he brought to my attention, and one of the most important. Christ was a servant to his people when he was here, and talked much about being a servant to others. And he’s taught me that being a servant means many different things and there are many ways to serve, you do not have to be grandiose in your nature of serving, sometimes just being a shoulder to cry on, holding someone’s hand when you can’t find words, offering a smile, these are all ways of serving. And friends are important, true friends are. They often know more about you than family does, and in many cases are there for you when family is not. Being a good friend back is important.
4. Depression is real and there is nothing wrong with taking medication.
I have been through some tough times in my life. Just as most people have. I have frequently and flippantly used the phrase “I’m just depressed, I’ll get over it.” Those times some just refer to as the “blues”. There is a difference between depression caused by circumstances, and clinical depression. I won’t get into all that here, not on this post, but as for me, I fall into the former category. I don’t deal with depression every day, and I don’t have to take medication daily. I used to be of the mindset that taking medication was a sign of weakness, that it was wrong to rely on anyone or anything but Christ to get me through. That if it I took medication, it would mean I must have a lack of faith. Oh, how he changed me.
As I type this, I know there will be people that read that are still of that mindset, and will totally disagree with me. That’s ok.
I still believe that God can remove depression and deliver a person from it in a miraculous instant, but I also know that he doesn’t always do that. I know that his grace abounds in all areas of our lives, and sometimes that grace and miracle comes in the form of a pill, doctors, and therapists. I can swallow a pill, and still hold faith that there will be days when I don’t have to. In the meantime he has delivered me from the shame in doing so.
5. Darkness can be a gift.
I love the quote from Harry Potter in the image above. I loved it when I read the book, I love it even more now after going through my own kind of darkness this year. When I told someone very dear to me on the phone this the other night she sounded shocked. “Did you say darkness can be a gift”? So, I’ll do my best to put into words what I mean by that, like I did with her, so that it doesn’t sound like I’m trying to encourage you to convert to some dark cult/darth vadar dark side type of thing. I don’t mean darkness as in “evil” darkness.
Last year my prayer for the new year of 2014 was to fall in love Jesus. I knew from much soul searching that what I was lacking was a deep personal relationship with Him or better words would be, I realized I was lacking a desire for that deep personal relationship and fellowship with Him. I realized going to church on Sundays and picking up my Bible occasionally, or reading a devotional daily, wasn’t cutting it if I only was doing these to feel better about myself as a Christian. Even my prayers felt stagnant, and it was because I was doing it for the wrong reasons. So, I began to seek daily fellowship, I began to talk to him on a regular basis, like I would talk to you if you were sitting in front of me. I began to be thankful in everything and learn to give thanks in everything. I prayed hard prayers, un-selfish prayers. And things began to happen that I was not comfortable with, even though I had prayed for it to if that were His will.
What followed for a time was a feeling of isolation, and the only thing I can describe as darkness. A spiritual winter, where everything inside of me felt cold and brittle and gray. The odd thing for me during this time, was that I became hyper-aware of the bigger picture. The bigger picture that spiritual battles go on every day on my behalf. That Satan has all kinds of tricks up his sleeve and he will go to great lengths to use them and in becoming aware of all this on a deeper level, I leaned into Christ. I still had my days of tears, questions, and doubts because I’m human and I always will. I felt so broken, yet I felt His presence. And for once in my life, I embraced this feeling of brokenness, deciding not to hurry up and “fix” myself ( which I can’t do, by the way), I didn’t ask Him to fix me either. I was still. And little by little, light started breaking through that darkness, through the cracks in me I didn’t even know I had.
Because you see, you can go in a room, and turn off the lights, shut the blinds, and close the curtains. And for a brief period of time, there will be darkness, but when you get still and focus, and look for light, you’ll find it. It will seem small at first, but the longer you sit, the more light you’ll see. As your eyes focus, the clearer everything around you becomes. The shadows that seemed scary, only become the harmless things they really are.
For me, it took being in darkness, to appreciate the Light. It’s where my deepest growth spiritually has begun. And for that I’m thankful.
There’s more I learned, but I feel I should stop here. I have a lot more to learn, a lot more to grow from, and God will always be working on me.
Here’s to a new year, and all God has in store for me within it. And for you too.
May His grace fill you and His light guide you.