I just recently passed the one year mark of being sick and mostly stuck at home with random and somewhat mysterious health problems. I praise God that He has brought me through and I am feeling much better these days. Though this journey has seemed long, emotional, and full of valleys I rejoice in who I am becoming, because of Him, through it all. As I have pondered what specific way I have grown and things I have learned this year, I came up with this list. I'm sure it is not comprehensive, but it's a pretty good start...
God's nearness on the lonely sleepless nights
On those nights when I laid awake for hours in the dark, shaking and feeling like I was going to die, the only One who could bring me comfort was my Savior. I prayed, read scripture, and listened to praise music on YouTube. He got me through every night and gave me breath each morning.
Compassion for those who struggle with hidden illnesses
When you have a disability that shows on the outside people see it and they treat you with compassion and understanding (hopefully!). But when you have an illness that nobody can see or understand it is difficult. You feel the need to constantly explain so people know how you feel or you just wish for people to GET it. I understand that much more clearly now.
God uses the most unlikely people to encourage
People I never talked to and hardly knew took time this year to send me cards, pray for me, and encourage me. People I never expected that God would nudge to speak into my life. They shared their own stories of illness and struggle and together we were able to praise God in everything.
Living an adventurous and full life doesn't always mean traveling and changing scenery
The past ten years of my life I have traveled a great deal and experienced so many wonderful places. I am grateful for those opportunities, but I recognize now that while traveling is awesome the adventurous life God calls us to live does not always HAVE to include travel and moving to be exciting and meaningful.
Every small thing is a gift from God
From the morning glory blooming in my yard to the friends that enrich my life...I have begun to write it all down in a notebook each day and not take for granted all the beauty around me. Life has slowed down and while it doesn't always seem exciting I have plenty of time these days to enjoy all the small things.
Trials are a gift from God
Difficult and painful circumstances may seem like they are consequences or just seasons to survive, but indeed they are a gift. They draw us closer into the presence of Christ. They build our character and develop us into more mature, compassionate beings. When we suffer with Christ, we also are able to share in his victory and blessing.
Perseverance produces character
I've read it a thousand times and believed it every time. But now I KNOW it first hand.
So much about this year has been very humbling. I've had to be very dependent on the Lord and others. I have had to give up so much of what I love to do. He has refined me and humbled me in my ideas and stripped me of much pride. Thank you Jesus.
The crippling power of fear
I've never experienced fear like I have this year. It's horrible. I hate it. I will overcome it. In His power. Now I can better understand those who struggle with so many different fears every day.
In person friends are vital
O, how I have missed so many of my dearest friends who are in other states and other countries and cannot be by my side. I shall never take good friends near me for granted. And thank you to the few people who have taken the time to encourage me with a hug or a visit this year.
It is important to respect people's fears even while helping them to overcome
when I didn't struggle with fear it was easy to dismiss another person's fears as silly and just expect them to get over it. I can now say from experience that is not helpful. It is important to acknowledge a person's fears and be sensitive while pushing them to face what makes them afraid.
Spiritual growth takes time-it can't be rushed
I've never been one who liked to wait a long time to see results. I like to make things happen..quickly. Unfortunately spiritual growth doesn't work that way. I used to try and grow quickly. Silly me. Day by day, moment by moment, trial by trial; He stretches us and shapes us and teaches us to let go of ourselves and identify with Him.
Dying to self means letting go of my longings and ideas of my ideal life in this world
I used to have so many aspirations, so many passions, so many goals, so many ideas about what I thought I might do with my life. This year I have learned to let go of so much and yield to whatever my Lord's plan entails. It is much greater than my plan. I am sure of it. Maybe I won't live in Africa. Maybe I won't continue to travel all over the world. Maybe I won't teach thousands of kids. Or maybe I will. Either way I'm okay with it.
I NEED children in my every day life
Children bring me immense joy. They bring healing and make me smile. I have had very little interaction with kids this year and that has been so difficult for me. I need them and I look forward to hanging with kiddos on a regular basis again one day soon.
It is okay to let go of some friendships or allow them to change
I've met a lot of great people over the years in many different places. I have diligently attempted to keep in touch with most of them. But some just don't work out. People don't write back. People change. People get busy. Some people are friends for life and some people are friends for a season..and that's okay. I don't have to fight to keep every friendship alive forever. Thanks to all the people who have impacted my life over the years, to all those who are still here reading my ramblings, and to those who are so faithful to pray for me. I am so blessed.