My theme for this year was Psalm 139:23-24. I would be lying if I said I prayed this prayer every day but I would say that most of my prayers rooted from this hope…that God would search my soul, heal old wounds and show me where I needed to grow.
It’s been a long year that has flown by quickly (if that makes sense). But without further ado….Here is my not-so-quick summary:
- I am Loved! Let’s just get real from the start. This year, I learned that I have a strong fear of rejection and abandonment. It feeds my need for approval which leads to people-pleasing (which is not God-pleasing). In the past, I found my value in other’s opinions and not God’s but through numerous studies, friendships and counseling sessions, I have learned that I am loved. (And guess what, you are too.)
- I can combat lies with Truth. At the beginning of this year, I went through the book, “Me, Myself and Lies“, with my sweet friend, Bethany. From this study, I learned the importance of memorizing scripture in order to fight off my self-doubt and insecurities. Jennifer Rothschild encourages you to look your “thought closet” and examine the things you think and say to yourself on a daily basis and then to reevaluate what (and why) you talk to yourself in those ways. A very encouraging study. If you struggle with self-worth as I mentioned in #1, I highly recommend it.
- Don’t put in what you have to pray out later. While filling my thoughts with Truth, I happened upon a few verses that made me rethink what I was listening to, watching and reading. Disclaimer: This is not a legalistic post where I tell you to throw away all of your secular CDs. I’m not. What I learned for myself is that some of the lies in my head rooted from the things I observed in music and television so now I choose to abstain from things that interfere with my healing process. (In case you’re interested, here are the verses: 1 Cor 6:12, Phil 4:8, Eph 4:29, Psalm 19:14.)
- Live out loud. (2 Tim 1:7) Before this year, I was very scared that my friends who are not believers would reject me if I came clean about just how much I loved Jesus. I feared that they would think I was condemning them or that I didn’t love them. So I hid it. Sure, I admitted I was a Christian (Hello, Jesus fish tattoo,ha!) But I was timid in how I chose to display it. Enter in my mentor, Grammie. She and I were hanging out with a friend who is not a believer and with lots of love and grace, she said, “Well, I want you to know that anything I tell you today is through the lens that I love God and think you should too.” WOW!That was a life-changing quote! I learned that I can be brave about loving JC and not be afraid of rejection. Yes, I have several friends and family who are not Christians but do I love them any less, No. But do I want them to know Jesus like I do, of course! When you’ve come through the valley like I have, you want everyone to know and now I’m no longer scared to tell people.
- With that said, I also learned to Be REAL. Authentic. The other book that was instrumental in healing this year was, “Becoming Myself,” by Stasi Eldredge. She writes, “Our hope doesn’t rest on our finally getting it together. Our hope rests in Jesus.” (p.97)“God accepts us right at this moment and he wants us to accept ourselves as well. Embracing ourselves has nothing to do with arrogance or settling for a lower version of who we are. (It) has everything to do with embracing the goodness of God’s creative work in us. ..trusting God, believing that all he has made is glorious and good. And that includes us.” (pp.98-99) Nuff said.
- Guilt doesn’t come from God. One of the things I’ve struggled with up until now is that I made a lot of mistakes before I accepted Christ in 2003. But this year I learned that the mistakes I made before Jesus don’t define me. They are part of my journey, yes. But my testimony is ever-changing and I am healed and forgiven for my past. God is my kinsman–redeemer. I am not what I struggled with or what I did away from God. I am God’s daughter, unblemished and beautiful.
- Everyone’s reality is hard.As someone with self-esteem issues, I used to believe that the grass was always greener on the other side of the fence. But then I realized that their yard has just as much fertilizer as mine does (HA!). Striving to be perfect is a distraction and while I love pinterest, it has fed my struggle with vanity and idealism. When I think about the lies that Satan tells us, he wants us to think we are failures. Wanting to distract us with feeling depressed, unloved or leading us to believe that he/she/they have it better.Well, friends, no one has it better. When we compare ourselves to the ideal, we are at war with ourselves. We cannot win if we are trying to achieve some state that isn’t real. Don’t believe everything you see on Facebook.
- Champion one another. I got to attend the Beth Moore simulcast this fall and she talked a lot about our identity. Who we are – What we’re made for and how we should cheer one another on. I have often struggled with jealousy so this was a new concept with me and oh, how exciting! What if we did let go of competition and instead, championed one another in his/her calling?! There is only one You and one Me and we are meant for great things in God’s kingdom. Here is a copy of Beth’s Identity Declaration she read at the simulcast.
- Forgiveness is the easiest way to overcome evil. This is a sentence that God gave me in 2011 but I finally came to grasp with it’s meaning this year. Forgiveness is essential. No one loses. In a post I wrote for Redevotionals.com, I talked about forgiving someone so that you could move on and put yourself out of the misery of holding a grudge. My good friend brought up the saying, “Don’t let them rent space in your head.” So true! If you are struggling with forgiving someone, ask God to show you the way to compassion and peace.
- I am responsible TO people, not FOR people. This summer, I took a 10-week class on Boundaries. Man, oh man, every human should be required to sit through that course. A few things I learned: Honesty is the best policy. Boundaries are healthy. And you don’t have to say “Yes” to every need/job from your spouse/friend/mom/dad/sister/brother/child/ministry. In other words, it’s okay to say No.
- There is joy in all trials. In Beth Moore’s study, “Jesus, the One and Only“, she discusses Jesus telling Peter that Satan will sift him like wheat. I go more into detail here but the gist of the lesson is this: Sometimes we are faced with a situation in which we have to examine our character (or ego) in order to grow through it. Beth describes Christ as permitting us to be sifted in order to shake out the real from the unreal, the trash from the true.This year, things have been sifted away from my character so that I can be better used for the kingdom. The things that have come up in every trial are slowly sifting away the selfish layers of Becky and bringing out the woman God’s called me to be. And I can have joy in that.
- Prayer works. This wouldn’t be a post about 2014 without bringing up Tristan’s health story. In March of this year, the doctor performed another CT and found no cyst on his brain. HALLELUJAH! I know not every prayer for healing is answered with a yes but I am thankful that Tristan’s was. But even with the answers we don’t want (of which I’ve had many), prayer brings us to our knees. It brings us closer to God and in a deeper relationship with our father. He is bigger than our fears and worries which brings me to my next lesson….
- God is bigger than any situation I will ever face. This is a scary sentence to write but one I believe wholeheartedly. I believe that God will work for the good in every trial I am in even if it brings the world around me crashing down. It’s a scary thought to think about but I think it’s part of the realization that we’re not in control. Yes, our suffering is real but it is temporary. We must stand firm in the truth that God is in control (but that doesn’t always mean a comfortable life)….which leads me to my final lesson and the overarching theme for the coming year…
- It’s not about me. In this post from June, I quote Max Lucado‘s book of the same name. Overall this year, I learned that in all of my ventures, I can’t do it alone. Sure, one can be successful from their own efforts but in our surrender to God, we are equipped with his strength. Call it maturity, but I am learning that life isn’t about me. My marriage is not about me. My goals aren’t about me. This whole story is about God. We are here to serve. To bring him glory. And as crazy as that sounds to someone who doesn’t believe, I really do believe that He must become greater and I must become less (John 3:30).
Let’s end with a quick prayer together. God, wow. You are so good. Thank you for this past year. For our trials. Our temptations. Our struggles. Our victories. You are in all of it. I pray that you will continue to reveal yourself to us in 2015. Show us where we are lacking so that we can continue to heal. Bring us opportunities to share your story through our own. Thank you for my friends, family and mentors who have played a part in my story thus far. I pray that you will use us in your kingdom however you see fit. For those who are lonely, help us to love them the way you first loved us. Help us to share our stories in order to point them to You for healing. You are almighty. You are the Great Healer. God I pray a prayer of protection over our families, our friends and our world in the coming year. I know there are trials that we have yet faced but I pray for peace when we stand in those storms. You are in control. And let our faith bring others to your truth. In your beautiful Son’s name, Amen.