Happy Birthday to me! I've started an unofficial tradition where I write out some of the lessons I learned during my latest year. Though this year was stranger than any of us could have imagined, I definitely experienced things I didn't think I'd ever have to. So there were a lot of good lessons learned through the hard times. Without further ado, here are some of the lessons I learned during my 26th year.
1. Put God first. It is the only thing that will bring true happiness.
I struggled a lot with my daily walk with God, so a lot of this year, I wasn't full of joy. I couldn't figure out what I needed to achieve or do better, because every time I got what I wanted, it didn't seem like it was enough. It took stopping and examining myself to realize I was running on empty and needed to be filled by God's word. I needed to stop skimming through the Bible and meditate on it, to look to Christ instead of myself. Growing closer to Him automatically brings joy and peace, especially in times like this which is full of anxiety and unknown.
2. Being alone is not normal. We have people around us for a reason.
When everything closed down, like a good introvert, I relished not having obligations or having to do my hair and makeup. I got lazy and did my own thing, only really seeing and talking to my husband.
It was so unhealthy. I didn't realize how lonely I felt until probably a month into not having a good, substantial conversation with another person that wasn't over the phone. I got grumpy and snippy, almost like I forgot about all the other people out there. I need people to keep me accountable and mold me into a more Christlike person. There's a reason why God made us social creatures. We're not supposed to be alone and isolated.
3. Satan will use everything he can against you.
Another thing I enjoyed about quarantine at first was that we didn't have to get up and ready for church. We could sit in bed in our pjs and watch the services online. Even though I knew how great getting to worship with my church family is, when our church opened back up, my little lazy self grumbled about having to get up and leave the house.
It's easy to get complacent and comfortable. But we need the encouragement of Christian fellowship. As soon as we got back to church and started getting involved again, I was brought out of my selfish, hardened shell that had grown over being alone.
Little things like this can hurt Christians, especially if we're struggling already. There's nothing the devil loves to do more than isolate us believers. We have to fight it and do what we know is right, even when it's hard.
4. You can live without things that seem so important.
I used to think that I couldn't write at home. I'd get distracted and zone out, ending up on my phone or cleaning out my closet or something. But as soon as I didn't have the option of going to the library or a coffee shop, I learned that I can write wherever, as long as I have the drive. I wrote this post in bed, wrapped in a blanket, just saying. :)
The same thing goes for movies, clubs, restaurants, stores, or whatever else. Sometimes it's good to slow down and go on a walk for a change. Or just cook a meal at home.
Quarantine has showed us how flexible we can be when put in a corner. We get used to a certain level of comfort and think we can't live without those things. But when we think about how people live in third-world countries, we realize humans can live under much worse circumstances. Suddenly those little comforts don't seem that important. And it's a good thing to put into perspective every now and then.
5. Don't be afraid of being vulnerable.
I know, most of these lessons are similar--can you tell I was alone a lot this year?
It's so easy to hold things in, deal with things alone, especially if you don't know people well. But admitting you need help or going to someone for advice is sometimes the best thing you can do. When your problems are hidden, they can seem so much bigger and more menacing than when you get them out into the light and others can say, "Yes, I had the same problem!"
Sometimes all it takes is reaching out to an older or more experienced person and just talking to them. Doing that changed my spiritual walk this year. And don't be scared to ask! I went out on a limb and texted one of the church wives I didn't know that well, and she was thrilled I reached out. A lot of people would love to help, they just don't know that you need it.
6. Speak love, not hate.
We've been through a lot of rough spots politically and socially this year. The hatred and darkness was palpable many times when I walked out the door. As Christians, we are to speak the truth, but we are also the ones who are supposed to be God's love on earth. If we attack and tear down others, even if we're right, we're not doing what God placed us here to do.
I think this year showed us how important community and understanding is. If there's one big lesson I can say, it is this: stop making excuses and get involved in church. We all need each other.
So here's to hoping this pandemic will end soon and we can get back to our everyday with loved ones and family.