Often times as the year draws to an end, I reflect. Why should this year be any different? People often ask what the most memorable part of my year was, or “What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned this year?” I can’t answer either of those questions because my year has been eventful, frightening, thrilling, at points, terrifying, but yet inspiring. I’ve had complete break downs (meaning I cried) for reasons I don’t even understand. I’ve been in the ER a few times. I’ve pulled an all nighter (worst idea ever). I’ve seen people set free from addictions. I got the world’s greatest and sweetest boss. I’ve had some of the best times with my best friends. I’ve grown (as a person, not in height).
I do know that I’ve learned to love. I’ve learned to love beyond where I believe someone deserves it. Why? Because that’s what Christ did for me. I didn’t deserve love or grace or affection, but He gave it to me anyways. Along with love, comes compassion. I may joke about hating people, but the love I have for others is far greater than it was last year. I’ve learned that just because a woman isn’t dressed in the most appropriate manner, doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve love. If anything, she needs more love than the women who know their worth is far greater than their bodies. After all, who am I to judge? If Jesus died for me; to take my judgment upon Himself – His perfect self – who am I and what gives me the right to judge others? If I can’t look at someone without picking apart every imperfection they might have, it’s time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. What do I hate so much about myself that I have to cover amongst others’ imperfections? Judging someone might give temporary satisfaction, but once I think about what I’ve thought and said about someone else, it’s easy to realize I’m finding my imperfections in them. But, then I realize, who am I to judge myself? If God says it’s His right to judge, then why should I even judge myself? Who am I to look in the mirror and tell myself I am a failure. I am worthless. In God’s eyes, I have worth. I succeed. I am loved. Love is kind. Therefore, God is kind. I want to have the heart of God, so I need to be kind. I need to show love. Loving isn’t easy. It’s not all it’s made up to be. You don’t “fall in love”. You choose to love. You stumble upon it and choose whether to continue loving or “fall out of it”. When someone hurts you over and over and over again, think of Jesus. Men punched Him and beat Him and whipped Him over and over and over again. But, yet, He still loved them. Not only did He love them, but He forgave them and gave up His own beautiful, perfect life for them. You can say you love and forgive someone all you want, but forgiving is difficult. It’s not easy to forgive when you’ve been hurt, but that’s a part of love. Jesus doesn’t only love us when we’re perfect so why should we show we care only when someone is being “good” or sober or nice? Jesus didn’t hang out with “church people”. He hung out with prostitutes, drug addicts, gang members, and thieves. He hung out with convicts. So, if I want to be like Jesus, why should I be afraid to? Why should I fear what might happen rather than show unconditional love? Love with limits isn’t love. Love beyond the fear of being hurt… Again, and you will experience the greatest love of all.
I’ve learned to trust. I’ve learned that not all guys, surprisingly, are bad. There are some good guys out there. Which, to be honest, completely shocked me. I didn’t think a guy would ever respect me, but I was proven wrong. And I’m glad I was. I never thought I’d be able to talk to a guy without worrying that he’s just like every other guy I’ve met. Or be able to trust him. To those of you who have helped me realize that you’re not all bad, thank you.
I’ve learned that no one is perfect and things aren’t always as they seem. No matter how flawless and beautiful another girl may seem, she has problems she’s trying to work through, too. I’m not the only with problems – or imperfections. But I am one of the few who knows the only One who can take care of them.
I’ve learned that those you love can be taken away. So tell them you care when you can. Whether or not they say it back, at least you won’t live with regrets. Savor the moments you spend with those you care about because you never know when the next time will be. I’ve seen so many people I love this year have their lives almost come to an end. Thank God, He has bigger plans for us than we have for ourselves.
I’ve learned that your words speak loud, but your actions scream louder.
I’ve learned hope and help are real. Rescue is possible. Sobriety isn’t easy, but God will help you through if you just ask Him. Your worth is far greater than you could ever imagine. God has big plans, you just have to make yourself the available vessel for Him to use.