As 2019 draws to a close and 2020 approaches, there is a lot of talk about the past, glow ups and transitions. Others have had a rough decade (to put it mildly) – I can say from being a 17 year old to now a 27 year old, all the bad things (that I can remember) have happened in this time bracket. There is also a lot of expectation from the new year too. There is promises of healthier lifestyles, better self care, goals and resolutions. Whether you’re leaving this year on a high or on a low, with hope or dread of the New Year, I can’t help but join in with millions of others in having better and higher expectations from myself in multiple areas of my life. Whilst it’s great to make goals and to look forward to the new, I want to at the same time remember the important things I have learnt in the last decade, especially from people who are (way) wiser than me and take these with me. I hope to share these with you (you’re more than welcome to skip to the ones you might be interested in more) to encourage you, to remind you of these things and to go into the new year together, with hope.
God is doing a million things and you might only be aware of like two of them.
John Piper has a famous quote which definitely sounds better than my rephrase of it. “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of 3 of them.” It’s so good to be reminded of this, especially when we live in an instant progress culture, rather than be patient and wait, trusting God.
No plant blooms in every season.
Lore Wilbert Ferguson, one of my most favourite writers wrote this on one of her Instagram posts¹ this year. And boy, did it stop me from trying to repeat the well meant but cringey “grow where you are planted” quote. Good theology means being honest and let’s be honest, there are some places you can’t grow in – it’s awful. We’re rather waiting for the Gardner to transplant us to a better soil where we can thrive and bloom. And if 2019 was a season where you were struggling to grow or progress, I hope you are reminded whilst seasons can shape us and test us, not every season is meant for us to bloom in.
Be faithful in your every day life.
Another lady who is very close to my heart, Beth Moore tweeted² the below. A lot of us think that if our audience or our followers aren’t in huge numbers that our tiny lives are insignificant. That what we do doesn’t matter. Yet faithfulness in your life, the simple reading of Scripture daily, praying for your friends, fasting, giving generously to the poor. All these things are HUGE. They impact your life and the life of your people. It is a big statement about your faith, and even if it’s done in secret, not for the whole world to see – God sees and He delights in you.
Take care of yourself.
Go to the gym – not for a particular number on the weighing scale but for endorphins, for more energy, for health. Go to therapy/counselling – I think we all have times where we need to talk to someone. Even if you don’t think that you need to, it’s good to be honest with someone you can trust about your fears, your failures, your happiness and sadness. Learn how to cook simple, delicious and healthy meals. Do stuff that makes you happy – and do it often. Read a lot. Read new books and old books, read fiction and get lost in a different world and read non-fiction and learn about the past. Read poetry and feel deep and good and sad things. One of my favourite poems is written by Rachel Joy Welcher called To The Graduates⁴.
Give it a read at the link below.
God is for and not against His children.
I’m not sure about you, but sometimes even though I’ve been a Christian for many years I still get worried. Does God like me? Yes He gave me Jesus, His only Son, but will He take care of me now? Will He really never leave? One of my favourite sermons by John Piper is on exactly this. If He has saved us whilst we were His enemies, living in sin, HOW MUCH MORE will He save us now that we are His children, children washed and cleansed by the sacrifice Jesus made? Obviously John Piper does a way better job than my summary here so I strongly recommend you listening to this sermon³ – even if you aren’t that much of a JP fan.
Build good, healthy friendships.
Sometimes you think that just because you have been friends with someone for 10 years that this friendship will last a life time – sometimes this is true and sometimes it isn’t. I have learned that friendship is about being honest and kind to one another. If you can’t be yourself in front of your friends or be honest with them without them being unkind or judgemental- these are probably not good and kind friends you need. This area has been particularly frustrating and heartbreaking for me recently, but I have found some good friends – who I can be honest with and fight with and cry with – they are hard to find but so precious!
Heart break is not forever.
In the last couple of years, heart break is something I have experienced, more than I would have liked to. Heart break from romantic relationships, friendships and family. Every single time I have experienced heart break, it felt like it would never heal, that I would never get over it. Night after night I would not be able to sleep a wink or stop crying (no exaggeration about the crying – my mum can verify this), sometimes my heart would hurt physically, just thinking about that person. But as months and years would go by, with kind friends, with new friends, with new books and God’s grace and kindness, it slowly started to fade. Will there be moments you remember the pain and sadness? Yes, of course. But I promise life is not always sad – there is so much joy that we have yet to experience.
Life is vapour – therefore don’t waste it.
We may make all these plans and dream dreams about what our future should look like, but we always forget the small detail – we are not in control as much as we’d like to think we are. Our hearts could stop beating tomorrow, and our life will be gone, just like vapour – here for a moment and then vanished. Sorry to be such a downer but understanding that life is fragile helps us to live it better. To make every moment count. A lot of people have their own definitions of what wasteful lives and successful lives look like. But Scripture is clear – live out your faith by serving the church, serving others, doing good, praying daily, chewing on God’s Word day by day, being kind and being truthful.
And that is a wrap! I hope that 2020 will be filled with lots of joy and that even in your sorrow, Jesus will be your comfort, your friend, your everything.
Happy New Year!