Happy New year, friends! How was your 2018? Mine was honestly fantastic. In the midst my life’s blessings (amazing husband, wonderful children, friendships, all my needs met, etc), there were some incredibly low lows. But I can look back and see just how faithful God has been through it all. I learned SO much in this last year. I changed for the better. I’m going to share with you some of the experiences and lessons learned through this last year.
Events transpired this past year that literally rocked my world. They shook me to my core. They challenged everything I believe about the world and the people in it. There is so much pain and hurt and confusion in the world. None of us goes untouched by these things if we interact with people in any capacity.
During my lowest points this year, I spent days so numb, I could barely move. Functioning as a parent or wife seemed impossible, let alone as a blogger or entrepreneur in my business. I wallowed and cried out to God, cursed the enemy and his attacks. I FELT the pain and it ripped me apart. Have you been there? I’m sure you have. It’s part of life. You know what happened after all of that? Nothing. Nothing changed. If anything, things got worse. But that’s actually not true…something did change. I changed.
I overcame the emotions I felt. I realized that in order for things to get better, I had to keep pursuing my calling. People are counting on me to succeed whether they know it now or not. I can take time to process, feel the pain, carry others burdens and cry out for change. But then it’s time to wash my face, get up and keep going. I can’t stay in that place. There are moments the pain still slaps me in the face and I feel it all fresh once more. But I know my God is bigger and he remains faithful. That brings me to my next lesson.
Faith & Trust
I learned so much about faith and trust this year. How many times do we tell God we trust him and then the second a challenge presents itself, we doubt. We’re back on our knees in desperation, full of fear and anxiety. On our knees isn’t a bad place to be, but we can pray out of fear or out of faith. I learned that real faith, real trust is being sure of the outcome no matter what it looks like. I started to see each challenge or turn for the worse as the enemy’s attempt to shake my faith. Because that’s exactly what it is. I got stronger. I still have weak moments, like anyone. But I am determined that nothing will shake my faith in the goodness and constant unchanging character of my God.
I read some incredible books this year that all seemed to have the same running theme. This year I’m planning out my book list for the year. I read 10 personal growth books last year, so in 2019 I’m doubling that number. But last year, I didn’t have them planned out. It just so happened that these books all had one thing in common. It was the one thing I needed to learn most (and you probably do too). They all had to do with our thought life.
Mental health starts with controlling your thoughts. How do we do that? A lot of it has to do with the input you allow into your head. That comes from people you spend time around, the books you read, TV you watch, social media you scroll past – all of it has an impact on your thoughts. Your thoughts help form your beliefs, which form your behavior, which shape your life. So important!
What you tell yourself about yourself matters. You can literally shape your life by your thoughts and your words. Here’s my book list that helped change the way I think & speak:
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- The Magic of Thinking Big by David J Schwartz, Ph.D.
- Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill
- Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer
- What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D.
I actually didn’t realize there were quite so many in this theme until I went back to count them all!
Your mind is a big deal. Guard it carefully. When the Bible speaks to guarding your heart, it’s talking about your mind, right? What is your “heart?” It’s your mind, will & emotions. So every time you read a scripture that talks about your heart, replace the word “heart” with “mind”. That one realization has taken so much scripture from vague to concrete in my understanding.
This is the word I chose to focus on in 2019. I spent a lot of time working on my attitude of gratitude in 2018. I made a lot of progress. But there’s more than just being grateful. Appreciation means understanding the fullness of the opportunities you have available to you. Appreciation is taking advantage of those opportunities. It means not complaining. Appreciation is recognizing all the good in your life amidst the trials and challenges.
It has been in my nature to criticize. I have seen what needs improving much more readily than I’ve been able to praise what’s already good. This has been true in my interactions with others, but even more so towards myself. So my goal is to look for the good. Focus on what’s going right. Because what we focus on increases. I want to see the good increase, not the bad.
Maybe this was a tough year for you. You may have experienced more than your fair share of pain and struggle. For all of that, my heart breaks. Know that those struggles don’t define you. Allow them to make you stronger, to empathize with others in their pain. Find something good to hang onto from this past year, no matter how small. Praise God for that one thing. Once you start looking, you may find many more than just one. There is always hope.
This next year will be a great one. It’s going to have its struggles like any other year. But we each have a choice to make. Shrink back in defeat or push forward and overcome. For me and my family, we are overcomers.