Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 - A Year of Learning

As 2010 comes to an end, I find myself in a quiet place - a place of meditation, introspection, reflection and self-examination. What has this year consisted of? Have I grown? Have I changed? Did I meet my goals? Did I extend love instead of anger, grace instead of judgment, wisdom instead of opinion, encouragement instead of criticism? Have I repented sincerely, forgiven quickly, trusted implicitly? Has Christ become bigger and more evident in my life? Where have I failed and succeeded? How can I improve? What do I need to release, and what do I need to hold on to? What has God shown me and taught me this year? What has He worked in me? What has He worked out of me? How does He want me to prepare for 2011?

I remember this time last year like it was yesterday. I was discouraged, disappointed and heartbroken. As I sat on the cusp of what had been, what was and what was to come, I vowed to myself and to God that I would not remain there. I refused to live another year stagnant, going through the same motions and winding up in the same place. I was determined, no matter the cost, that I would live 2010 differently.

This year I have experienced the love of God in ways I’ve never known, and come to understand that sometimes His greatest love for us is in withholding those things we’re not yet ready for. It is walking with us through the journey of brokenness instead of taking us around it.

The first thing I learned this year is that there truly is beauty in brokenness. It is a place of surrender where we no longer ask the Lord to spare us the pain, but commit to the process, holding onto Him and not letting go until He changes us, heals us and makes us new. There is a redefining in this brokenness that frees us from the comfortable confines of how we define ourselves, and helps us embrace the identity He has given us. It’s taking His word over ours, surrendering control and submitting to His Lordship in our lives……it is bittersweet, but it is a raw beauty like no other - the transforming of a heart and a life into something that reflects His beauty, His truth, His love.

2010 has also brought a new revelation of God’s sovereignty. Everything is purposeful! Everything is appointed, and He makes everything work together for our good. Everything! Even when the hit is so hard it takes your breath away, even when it seems like nothing good is happening in your life, even when it feels like that hurt will never heal, even when all your circumstances say the exact opposite of God’s promises to you. It is in these times when you become so aware that God is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. He is before time and after time, and not one thing catches Him off guard. If it’s come into your life, then He has already made a way to turn it around for good! If you can get that cemented in your spirit, it will change your life. You will look at things differently, you will pray differently, your faith will grow, your peace will be constant and your joy will overflow! He has already orchestrated the outcome before the trial even comes! THAT IS AMAZING!

This year I experienced the first tangible fulfillment of a specific promise from God with the publication of Bubble Bath Moments. It came a year later than I thought and was entirely different that I originally imagined, but….it was right on time and exactly what He planned. It is perfect…..perfectly Him! That has been the most humbling, awe-inspiring thing about this book – it was all Him and none me. It is amazing what God can do when we just say, “Yes” to Him, and stop trying to tell Him how to best bring His will in our lives!

So, as I sit here reflecting, there is a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. It was a full year - full of pain and full of joy, full of tears and laughter, full of breaking and re-making. It was not all enjoyable, I didn’t like some parts – at all, but it was purposeful! I have learned for my own that the promises of God are true. He does walk with us through the fire, His grace is sufficient, He loves me with an everlasting love, a love so deep that we won’t let me settle for less than His best for me, He loves me enough to let me hurt so He can completely heal me…….He has a plan, and it’s for my good!

I have grown, I have changed, I have learned how to love better, give more, take less. I’ve failed and failed again, but I’ve learned that I don’t always know best. I’ve learned humility is never fun, but the payoff is exponential. I’ve learned to pray for God’s timing – and really understand how that’s best for me. I have learned to hold on to my dreams with open hands, to live for today and let God worry about tomorrow. I’ve learned to be content – which may be the key to all of this – contentment is the key that opens the door to the commanded blessings of peace and joy. I have learned. I have learned. I have learned……and most importantly I have learned to trust the One who holds me in the palm of His hand.

It has been a year! A year of restoration and of preparation, and I wouldn’t change one part. I have been clay on the potter’s wheel, and He knows how to make me into the valuable creation He made me to be – even when it’s uncomfortable. My life sits in the charge of the Lord – and I trust Him to orchestrate it into a symphony of His love.

There are still things I’m waiting on – dreams I have, promises to be fulfilled, hopes not yet spoken, but I don’t look at the disappointment in the delay, I look at the absolute perfection of His timing, and know that there’s still work to do to prepare me for them – and them for me! So, I give thanks in the delay – it is a time of preparation, a time of growth and a time of transformation, and I trust Him. He has proven Himself faithful!

“There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,” Eccleiastes 3: 1-7