I did a lot of growing this year. I learnt just how little there was to me. How my identity was attached to temporary stuff and how much I relied on external validation even without my knowing it. I grew up without learning about the importance of mindfulness and God forced me to pause. I believe there are two forces, Good and Evil / God and Devil. The devil tried to steal my joy and to an extent, God watched for a while, knowing all would work together for my good cos he loves me! I needed the tough lessons.
Life wasn't going the way I wanted it and lack of awareness meant and I was attaching shame to my struggles, even things I had zero control over. I was such a control freak and needed things to be in certain ways for me to find rest. So when shit hit the fan, he watched. When I started scrambling, he watched. He watched me wear myself out. Thing is he was always there, I know it. I have never felt that there was no God but for a large part of this year, he was very silent or maybe I was just too busy fighting to listen. When I was broken and flat out on my back, when my tear ducts became empty and I was just still, then the lessons started.
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart..." Jer 1:5
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb" Ps 139:13
- MANY THINGS WILL NOT MAKE SENSE AND THAT'S OK
Joyce Meyer has been a huge blessing to me. Love her no BS break down of The Word. One of her teachings led me to study Ecclesiastes and for the first time in ages, I felt like I could breathe. It was ok that I found many things meaningless. It didn't make me weird, I could stop fighting and forcing 'purpose'. Enjoy eating and drinking, look for something I like doing, chill with it and see where I'm lead (Ecc 2:24).
- THE SIMPLEST THINGS ARE THE HARDEST
Focussing and doing what you know how to do best and patiently waiting for growth?
Minding your own business and not comparing your journey to others'?
Being genuinely happy for others even when you don't know what's next for you?
These take discipline. Especially if you're not the morning and sunshine seeing kinda person. If you're the type that needs to actively focus on thinking positively, keeping your joy while waiting becomes a major task.
I've learnt that there is a need to have plans in place to stop the devil from taking from me.
- THE MOST MOVING STORIES COME FROM PAIN
I have always been drawn to deep thinkers and insightful public figures. I was reading The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou and it clicked: those people whose determination, to live on their own terms, I admired had been through! Their depth didn't come just from reading or chatting. Life threw them curves, the types that knock the wind out of you and somehow they came through. They saw themselves at their lowest, saw how survival instincts mixed with preparation mixed with chances somehow gave them their breaks. They learnt that
- NOBODY REALLY KNOWS
I have a full blog post on this that I haven't shared yet. I realised that when sincere people share their stories, they are mostly not on about giving you 'How Tos'. They know that nobody really knows and in that truth lies FREEDOM. Everybody goes through stuff with varying degrees of hardship. That people don't always share or they package their stuff and wrap them in smiles does not matter. WE ALL GO THROUGH. As a sheltered child and an introvert, I wasn't conscious of this simple truth. Becoming aware of personal flaws as I grew up made me self conscious. I hid things and never shared. Internalising stress became normal and I always tried to cope with everything I had to deal with on my own. Not because I wanted to be private but because I was ashamed. I know now to be easier on myself. To be kinder to myself and to others. Everyone is dealing with something and no one has it all figured out. Shame is a trap.
"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou
I know now to live the best way I know how and to constantly be mindful enough to keep learning.
Journaling regularly increased my awareness of patterns in my behaviour. When there is a lot going on, it is better to take a pen and paper and empty yourself of the chaos. Keeping the mix of energies in is unhealthy and writing helps with not being in denial and being able to consistently sort through issues in balanced, honest and realistic ways. It's hard to exaggerate and be excessively dramatic on paper when you're the only one reading anyway.
- THE ONLY TRUE MOTIVATION IS IN ME
The emptiness that came with brokenness created a perfect space for self reflection. I learnt that no one else had the answers and so I stopped looking for quick fixings in other people's lists and fruits. I now understand the importance of a whole picture. Unless I know someone's full story (they were willing to share and I trust their honesty and vulnerability), it'd be silly to look at that person through the lens of specific failures or achievements, make assumptions, compare and then judge myself.
Comparison is so foolish! Even when we come off looking better. It is a very bad habit that I am learning to stop. The combination of our upbringing, personalities and present circumstances are unique to us, so beyond general life tips, nobody can give you a list of what to do to get exactly what you want because LIFE HAPPENS.
If the struggles in this world are meaningless and all that I own eventually, when I'm dead, will become meaningless, what's the point of joyless striving? I can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in my own toil (Ecc 2:24). My life cannot be driven by others' expectations and validations. I must not be driven by titles. So I am not my marriage or my degrees or my business or...you get the point. While positive results are great, I am not my results, positive or negative and so many bible verses teach this lesson: I am not to brag about what I do or own (1 John 2:16) and I am to live quietly, minding my business and facing my work (1 Thess 4:11). Also whatever my hand finds to do, I've got to do it with all my might ( Ecc 9:10, Col 3:23).
It is on me to figure out my WHYs, WHATs and HOWs and to be at peace while doing the figuring. The answers are in me and God will lead me to them. I know now to abandon conditioning, all the You shoulds and You musts. Knowing to study God's word and keep learning about myself on my mat during meditation, when the world is tuned out has been a major break through for me. That is all the motivation I need.
Those were my lessons. If God had shown me what was ahead, I most likely would have freaked out. That's the beauty of not knowing, God was able to do his work without me being in the way. It's been a dark year with bursts of light but I'm grateful for all. I'm thankful that I know now that it is ok to not know. I'm thankful that I know now that there really wasn't much to me and that it really wasn't about me anyway. I love the truth in his grace being sufficient for me and is power being made perfect in my weakness (2Cor 12:9) and I know that I can do EVERYTHING through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).
"For he has not given me the spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind" 2Tim 1:7
To 2016 and to the continuation of the beautiful journey between me and my maker.