So I have been 22 for a full day now and I am feeling like such a grown up!!hahaha… I woke up with a pimple even and I’m sure that was God letting me know I’m getting older…Older and wiser, right? Birthdays, I think, are the best times to reflect, to see what God has done in your life and where you are headed. As I was reflecting, there are a couple of things that I was reminded of about 21 that I felt like taught me some of the biggest lessons of my life, so here goes FIVE REFLECTIONS OF A 22 YEAR OLD…
1. It’s not about you.
The past year has come with a lot of changes, a lot of decisions and a lot of redirection that I had not initially planned on. It was a year of “testing God” in the things that He challenged me on. One of the biggest things was growing in relationships, learning how to put every single interaction and friendship in His hands. I was challenged last summer to be more intentional in seeking Him at a deeper level and the year of intentionality with Him really exposed a lot of selfishness on my part. There are times, in listening and walking with the father, that we assume that everything that happens is for our own edification. I was (and probably still am) very big on asking the question, “what’s in it for me?” Everything has to affect me right? I need to gain something out of whatever is happening, if something goes wrong it is all my fault and I probably have to fix that. If I am not satisfied then why bother? If I feel like a failure in life, go through a few days of anxiety or exhaustion then it’s all me. I learnt this year that, sometimes – in fact, many times – my journey is not just about me. That sometimes the Lord wants to give me a new level of exposure, a new level of growth and a new experience. I learnt that, if I change perspective, I will realize that every single season that I go through is intended for a different theme, a different lesson and a testimony for the future.
2. It is not about anyone else either
I love the song “Jesus at the center” by Israel Houghton. It is such a declaration of who Jesus should be in my life and, every time I listen to it, I am reminded that everything revolves around him (see what I did there, ha). This year, in many ways, I learnt that my go to character is people pleasing. I learnt that my emotions are largely affected by how people around me feel, what they think. I also learnt that saying NO is hard for me, and I am sure I am not the only one who would say that. I learnt, also, that sometimes I worry about people’s emotions when I shouldn’t and that I do the Lord’s job for him when I shouldn’t. It was a big lesson for me, and it really changed the way I view a lot of things. The central focus shifted so much!! I re-understood (if that’s even the right way to say that) what it means not to conform, what it means to thrive and move forward. I learnt that there are things that you have to do without thinking about the responses from those around you. Actually, scratch that, I learnt that if you have conviction about an idea, a dream, a way forward, then there is no reason other people should hold you back from it. Don’t get me wrong, accountability, council and advice are all good but sometimes our go-to is thoughts such as “what will others think?” “how will this change how other people view me?” versus asking God what He thinks and whether He approves and then going for it.
Both 1 and 2 reminded me of what the central focus of my life should be and that, I will be cliche here for a bit, “only dead fish go with the stream”. They, I will not lie, boosted my confidence in so many ways where I struggled with appraisal and finding identity in the opinions of those around me. Yes, I still need to work on these, but sometimes when I feel like I am doing things out of expectation (or not doing things out of expectation) I take a step back and declare, “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM!!!”
3. Complacency is not an option!!
Complacency, according to the Webster dictionary is:
“a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better : a complacent feeling or condition”
There are many times when I have been comfortable in a specific situation. For different reasons, I get really comfortable and decide I don’t want to move forward or backward and just want to be at the same place. I learnt this year, in some hard ways, that once you get comfortable in the same place you start sinking. I’ll make an analogy: think of a sofa (or couch) that is always in use, you sit the same way in the same spot all the time. After a while, there is a sort of hole on that couch that develops because of that. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what complacency does. It fixes you to the same spot, stopping you for making those failures that will propel you forward or getting those victories that will push you upwards.
4. You are ALWAYS in transition!!!
I think this follows nicely. I remember, sometime this past year, I was struggling with something and I got so frustrated with myself and with the Lord. I found myself asking him, “why is it that I always feel like I am struggling with something?!?”. I am grateful that He can take all of my complaining because He simply told me, “it’s because you are always moving forward, calm down”. And of course I ranted on for a little bit more until I didn’t have any more ways to say the same thing to Him. I learnt that there is nothing lifegiving about going through a routine, and that the father knows that. I realized that transitions mean hard times, they mean challenging times and the struggles might look the same sometimes but they are so different. So I decided, I will always enjoy the ride, seizing the moment and riding along when the next transition happens.
5. Celebrate the small victories.
I was listening to a teaching by Joyce Meyer recently that enforced this lesson for me and I thought to myself, “thanks Daddy for aligning things so perfectly”. It is so easy for me to beat myself up about failures, mistakes, shortcomings or lessons that I fail to learn the first time around (hence lesson number 1). The Lord taught me over the last year that, in as much as it is important to anticipate the big successes and the milestones, it is super important to celebrate the little jumps and leaps as well. I realized that we get so focused on where we are going and how hard it will be to get there and we do not think of where we are and how hard we have worked to get to that place. So here’s to lots of celebrations for the small things in life. Also, being a sentimentalist, this spoke volumes to me because He was like, “you know how those small things resonate, why not indulge in them?”.
So here’s to another year of learning. A year for me to embrace the changes, to fail over and over again and then to succeed. Here’s to a year of zero stive!!! Bring on TWENTY TWO!!!
“Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations. Ask your father and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.” Deuteronomy 32:7 [AMP]