It’s my birthday this week. Twenty-seven was a hard year for me and I’m not sorry to see it go. But (and that’s a big butt, as my 90-year-old pastor used to say) I learned a lot about God’s character and myself this year. Huge life lessons that came with a whole lot of tears and at least one or two laughs. I like to think that I’m approaching Twenty-eight a little wiser, and a little more rooted in who I am. I thought I’d do a special birthday edition of the Top Ten lessons I learned this year. Sorry, no funny videos today. Check back next week.
“Suffering clarifies for us what is important and what is not.”
A few people tweeted this quote this week, and I really love it. I’ve found this to be so true this year. A lot of the “life lessons” I learned sound totally cliché or obvious when you write them out. But it’s one thing to theoretically know something is true. It’s a whole other thing to walk through something hard and come out on the other side knowing Truth. Suffering draws us closer to God, and shows us what is important and what is just noise.
“I will sing of the riches of your mercy”
This year was pretty rich with musical experiences and I got to write, sing, play and record a lot. I wrote a couple of songs this year that I’m really happy with. I learned that I need to invest in my talents and the things I’m good at. Some parts of music come naturally to me and some need a lot of hard work and practice.
Music is one of the things I am most excited about going into the next year of my life. God has brought a community of musicians together at Westside who all have a passion for worship and I am so excited to be a part of it. It’s so cool to see how God is developing his heart among his people through music.
“My Best Friend’s Wedding”
My best friend got married. I was a bridesmaid for the first time in my life (I usually get asked to do music instead of being in the wedding party which is awesome because you still get to go to the rehearsal dinner and be involved in the wedding without having to buy a fancy matching dress or get your hair/nails did). I learned that wedding planning is a huge undertaking. I learned that I will probably have to hire someone or get Ariana to make a million lists for me if I ever get married.
There were so many times this year that I cried out to God or to friends, ”I just want a little bit of stability, is that too much to ask for!?” I went through one move, two periods of unemployment and am still currently looking for another roommate for the fall. It feels like my life has been in a constant state of change over the past twelve months. In the midst of this longing to be settled, even just for a while, this verse jumped out at me. I’d never heard God referred to in this way before.
“Beer is delicious”
That’s lame, sorry I was trying to keep the quote thing going. I’ve never been a big beer drinker. Gin & Tonic is my go-to beverage and probably always will be. But this year for the first time I actually started to enjoy beer, and it makes me feel more like a legit grownup. We can all thank Natalie for this, having a roommate who works in liquor store that specializes in craft beer forces you to try enough that you eventually figure out what you like and don’t (Hefeweizen…still gross).
“Guard your heart”
I’ve always been a heart-on-my-sleeve type of girl. Some people have to learn to be more vulnerable and let others in. I had to learn the total opposite lesson. I had to learn that not everyone is trustworthy with the most intimate details of my life. Not everyone has the wisdom and maturity to speak truth into my life. This lesson was particularly painful because I learned it by being hurt by an extremely well intentioned, beloved friend. Thankfully, it turned out alright in the end and the relationship was healed by God’s grace. But I definitely learned that that verse in Proverbs—which we like to throw at young girls to warn them to protect their virtue and keep boys out of their pants—has a much wider application than just romantic love.
“Find Joy in the Small Things”
Like when your beloved bottom feeding hockey team has an unexpectedly strong start and sits at the top of the Conference after the first ten games of the year. Or when you win the draft lottery despite being only the second worst team in the league.
“You are not superwoman”
I hate asking for help. I think most people do, because it makes us feel weak. But we weren’t designed to be autonomous creatures, doing life all on our own. We were made for relationships and community. I had some friends and family who came through in amazing ways for me this year, but I had to
swallow kill my pride let them know what I needed.
“It Will Be Okay”
Even when it feels like it won’t. Even if it doesn’t get better. God is sovereign over everything. From big things like jobs and roommates and where your rent money is coming from, to little things like finding your shampoo on clearance when you only have $10 left in your bank account. He is our provider and he has a perfect plan and purpose for us. (Related: his plans are often so different than mine). Phillipians 4:13 is another one of those postcard verses that everyone has on their fridge or cross-stiched and hanging in their bathroom. But the whole chapter is amazing, particularly the verse immediately before.
“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me…And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”