This has been quite the year, 2010. There have been many ups, but also many—if not more—downs. I have had some regrets (though I believe strongly against regrets), but I feel that I have also learned a lot of lessons throughout the year. This has not been a year of too many great experiences, but a year of a lot of hard work. I am looking forward to 2011 a lot and cannot wait to get it started (though I am going to spend January 1st working at least 11 hours at the nursing home). While we have one last day of 2010, I think it is quite appropriate to look back at the lessons that I have learned.
1. Sometimes you have to say good-bye to the things (or people) that do not make you happy. It is hard to believe that there will be times when certain people are no longer in your life. Sometimes you have to say good-bye to people who are good enough and continue to search for those who you cannot live without. I mean that especially when it comes to relationships. But also, when it comes to friends, there will be some friendships that are just toxic. If someone does not build you up or is causing more harm than good, even though it is hard, sometimes you just have to say good-bye. The story of my life has been remaining friends with everyone, despite how they’ve spread rumors about me or intentionally hurt me with their words. I understand how important forgiveness is, and I will readily forgive anyone, no matter how much they may have hurt me. However, there are some relationships/friendships that you do not need remaining in your life as poison.
2. Surround yourself with those that support you. I absolutely love my family. I have a great core group of people who have really been there for me, even though some of those core people, I have only met within the last couple years. There will be times of turmoil and seasons of struggle, but there is always a core groups that cares. It is important to know who that core group is, and it changes throughout life, but when you are breaking down in tears, you need to know who you need on speed dial. Those are the people who have always been there and loved you, no matter who messed up you look or feel or how much you have just, flat out, messed up. They are the ones who are going to be at the other end of the phone telling you to just breath. They are the ones who are going to be holding you with their arms reminding you that, “God is always there, even when you feel left out.” They are the ones who are telling you it is okay to cry, but it is important to grieve. Then they are the ones who remind you that after you grieve, you move on. Because I have so often experienced people who have not been there for me, even when they say that will be always, I know even more how important it is to appreciate the people who are there, no matter what.
3. The Sabbath must become a lifestyle. I never even attempted to observe the Sabbath until this past semester. I mean, sure, I probably took Nazarene naps on Sundays. However, the Sabbath is so much more than taking naps. There were plenty of Sundays or times of rest that I wrote off, because “Sabbath was not made for college students.” I have learned, and am still learning, that rest is needed even though there is no time for it. You must rest. Even as much as it would be great, no one is the Energizer Bunny. We have to intentionally take time to rest, otherwise, we will break down. If anything, I would label 2010 as the year of breakdowns. That is why I want 2011 to be the year where I take advantage of the gift of Sabbath living. I say living because I do not believe that the Sabbath is something for Sundays only (or for any “one day” of the week), instead, Sabbath is a lifestyle in which we are constantly resting in the Lord.
4. Getting your tonsils out is incredibly painful. In the beginning of August, I got my tonsils out. It is because of that that I now believe as soon as anyone turns five, they should just get their tonsils out so they don’t have to suffer as an adult. It so so painful that I am glad I never have to relive it. (Please don’t tell me any stories about how people have had them grow back.) For two whole weeks (it is funny because I had only asked off four days, but there was no way I could function after only four days), I was unable to work, talk, or do anything but think about how much pain I was in. Even the doctor said that it was worse than childbirth. On the bright side of an unhappy moment, one of my classmates and friends brought me a teddy bear and balloons because that’s all that she remembered from when she got her tonsils out when she was five. My mom saw how frustrated I was from not being able to work, and so she offered to pay for my books for school. Ha. Anyway, it was a terrible time, yet when it comes to times like that, it once again shows who is really thinking about you.
5. Pursuing a life of holiness is all about just that: pursuing. I took the class Doctrine of Holiness this past semester and it set me on an intentional course to really take a look at what holiness means and looks like lived out. It made me realize that before, I could not have really even defined holiness adequately, must less live it out to the fullest. To sum up what I have spent several months learning, would be to say that living a life of holiness is a constant process. It is about actively pursuing, not a one-time-instantly-made-holy-for-the-rest-of-your-life moment. It is an intentional, active pursuit to grow in Christlikeness. It is the constant submitting yourself to the filling of the Holy Spirit and constant surrender to the Lordship of Christ. A holy life, is a verb, not a noun.
6. Be thankful for the people who simply welcome you in. This year was the first year that I ever spent a big holiday away from my family. I spend both Easter and Thanksgiving away from my home and away from my family. Luckily, I have been blessed with people in my life who simply welcome me into their homes and into their lives. I am so thankful for these people. There will be people like this to will welcome you in whether it is for a day or a season. You must take time to be grateful for those who become like family to you, if even for only a moment. (P.S. That is why when I grow up, I’d like to have a dining room table that fits 12. That way, I can constantly be welcoming people in.)
7. Waking up thankful will change your whole day. Each morning that you wake up, the first thing that you should do is thank God for the day. Most mornings I wake up grumbling about how I would just rather be sleeping, but let me tell you, when you wake up in a thankful mood, your mood for the entire day is better. Some days, granted, are easier than others. However, each day that you wake up and find yourself alive, thank God for giving you one more day. After all, we all have heard that no day is guaranteed. That means that every breath we take, we should thank God for it. We have been given more than we deserve and we should purposefully take the time to be thankful for it.
8. Just like baking, there will be times when you just fail. I was attempting to make woopie pies yesterday. Let’s just say, it was a failed attempt. They spread out more than I was expecting them to and it basically turned into a giant pan of one large cookie-like substance. That is sometimes how life turns out as well. Sometimes you just have to take what you’ve made and throw it away. Sometimes that means starting over, sometimes it means just knowing better for next time. Either way, it means walking away having learned something. Each experience in life should be looked at as a learning experience. Like I said, I had a relationship this year that was a relationship that I could see was not in my future. It is still incredibly hard to look back on it and take any sort of lesson from it. Yet, I do not want my life to have regrets. I want to learn something from every single thing. Sometimes it is just harder than others.
9. People will hurt you, sometimes unintentionally. People will let you down. But God is always there, no matter what. This was a lesson that I painfully relearned this past year. I have been let down by people plenty of times. People will hurt you, even when they have the best of intentions. There will be times when you feel as though you are all alone. Those are the times when your roommate is working a closing shift or when it’s past nine o’clock so your mother is already in bed. Those are the times when you are crying and the very person you usually turn to is the person that is the very person causing the problem. In those times, you need to be reminded that God has never left you, nor will He ever. In fact, it is in those times more than other that you need to know that the only person should be turning to is the One and Only One who holds you in His arms.
10. God has always connected our relationship with Him with our relationship with others. There will be many points throughout life when you realize that this worth life thing is not about you. I know that I have had to realize and rerealize it over and over: It is not about me. Sometimes we are called to places in our lives not so that we will get something out of it, but maybe instead we are called to those places because we must give. We must get outside of ourselves. We must build and cherish the relationships around us.
So, there it is. I’ve learned a lot this year, I’m sure I’ve learned more than just ten things. However, I am excited for 2011 and am even more excited that the rest of my life will be filled with learning lessons and learning experiences.
Happy Last Day of the Year!