As a year-end practice, I was reflecting on all I’ve learned from the year. I downright failed on my goals I set out for the year, but instead learned many emotional and spiritual lessons. Many platitudes I knew, but this year I learned. It’s the difference between knowing the stove burner is hot and learning how hot by touching it.
Although lessons are best learned by experience, value is added by learning from example too. So, in honor of 2014, I’m sharing the top 14 lessons I learned.
Waiting is a chance to show the most faith
Clearly, this is the year that the wait of our adoption ended. Huge. I knew while waiting that faith was important–to cling to His promises before they happened. But, seeing it all come to fruition this year was just amazing. I saw God really come through on what He said He would. And it made me want to wait well in all things, small or big. How much more faith does it take to say I believe God WILL come through for me than to see God DID come through for me? I want to live that kind of faith the rest of my life–knowing God will come through before he does and waiting well.
God is working all things together even when it doesn’t seem like it
Just to further the last lesson, I’ve learned just how much God is working even when it doesn’t seem like it. If I trace back what it took for us to adopt Jac0b and all the dates and all the desires, this was years and years in the making. Maybe generations, who knows. I’ve also seen it in my sister’s life with her marriage this year. God is working all things–ALL THINGS–together even when it doesn’t feel like it during the wait. I’ve learned to see even the bad things as opportunities for God to weave it into my story. What joy we can have in adversity when we learn this.
God is our comfort
I have learned this year more than any other what it feels like to need comfort and then to receive it. Truth be told, I haven’t gone through a lot of high-stress times in my life. 2014 was my year of stress and I figured out that God really did comfort me and in amazing ways. Going forward, I hope to attack stressful times with more courage knowing I have God to comfort me.
God still shows up in miraculous ways
Finding feathers this year was nothing short of miraculous to me. If I ever doubted it before, I will not again that God can show up in unique, miraculous ways.
Boundaries are essential to a healthy emotional life
I learned about emotional boundaries this year. I learned how to say no, carry my own weight and stand up for myself when needed. Maybe I’m still learning how to do, but I did learn they’re essential and this will downright revolutionize all your relationships–even if it’s just the mental gymnastics you go through.
Negative feelings should not be feared
For as long as I can remember, I’ve stuffed negative emotions, not willing to feel pain or cause someone else pain. It led to terrible perfectionistic qualities and a lack of joy. This year I learned negative feelings are not something to fear.
Counseling is hard, but revolutionary
I only ended up at one counseling session this year, but even that one changed so many things for me. I have plans to go to more in 2015, but it only took one this year to truly see how revolutionary it can be.
Logic and reason can be bondage
I’ve always taken my logic and reasoning skills as a positive, but I also learned it can lead to worry and indecision, stealing your joy and trapping you in cyclical thought-bondage. God gave us logic and reasoning skills as a gift, but as with anything, relying too much on it is not good.
We have control over negative thinking
First and foremost, I learned that God can free us from a negative mindset. But I also learned I can stop negative thinking by bossing my brain around. I do not have to meditate on negative thoughts.
Love is a choice, not a feeling
This year more than ever I learned that love is an action and a choice and not a feeling. We love our way into feelings, not the other way around.
Trust is earned, and not quickly
Our adoption has taught me so much about trust. I’ve been so lucky to have so many wonderful relationships in my life and have had very few relationships where trust was missing and then built again. I’ve learned this year trust is built in a bunch of small moments, perhaps a few big ones and it is not to be rushed. Going forward, I want to be trustworthy in the small and large things and know it will pay dividends, even if it’s in the long-run.
Stress can either do you in or lift you up
I saw first-hand the bad effects of stress this year. My hair fell out, my gums were inflamed, I had skin rashes, heartburn and weight gain. A lifetime of stress can kill you. I didn’t handle all the stress this year well all the time, but I did learn how to go to God with my issues daily. His comfort is downright necessary. In the stress, I found God and He carried me through.
Grief is a friend, and ignored, becomes an enemy
I had to grieve so many things this year–our old family, Jac0b’s old family, loss, Emma leaving elementary school, our kids changing schools, personal losses. But what I learned is grief is a gift if we let it be. It’s necessary to our emotional health and we have to let ourselves walk through the grief so we don’t get stuck.
Life moves fast and you can’t prepare
At the beginning of 2014 I made all sorts of goals with the knowledge that this year could be life-changing. It was in so many ways I expected, but then in others I did not at all. A wreck, a phone call, a meeting–life changes quickly and there’s rarely any way to prepare. And yet, here I am at the end so much for better for both the good and the bad. We may not be able to prepare but we can prosper.
I’m going into 2015 hopeful and encouraged that God is at work, He is with us through it all and no matter what surprises 2015 brings, He has used 2014 to equip me and will continue to do the same.