With only three more days left of 2015, people are talking about a new year, new beginnings, and new goals. It’s the time of year when we reflect back on the last year and ponder about what we could change that would benefit us in 2016. Whether it is getting back to a regular fitness schedule, eating healthier, spending less time online and more time outside and with family and friends, finding a new job, taking up a new hobby, stressing less, loving more, there seem to be so many possibilities. The year is dwindling down and there seem to be so many bright new possibilities for what the year could hold.
I know that at this time last year, I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years that this year would have panned out like it did. I wouldn’t have guessed that I’d spend 4 months away from home, then be traveling for work for another month after that. I knew that God had something planned for me that was going to push me out of my comfort zone, but I never would have guessed that I’d be over 15 hours away from home, traveling with 8 strangers.. Especially when my college was only an hour and a half away from home, so the longest I went without seeing my parents at one time was probably a month. However, this year turned out to be something I could have never even expected and so much more than I could have ever asked for.
With that being said, how can we ever tell what the future will hold? We can’t. What if looking ahead scares us, instead of excites us for the new opportunities? What if you don’t want to think of the future because you know it won’t be easy? While 2015 was an incredible year and I’m so thankful for every moment of it, there have also been a lot of challenges that I’ve had to overcome.. Telephone calls that took my breath away, difficulties that are a part of life and we all know that, but yet, when it comes time to face it, we wish with everything within us that we didn’t have to.
So what if looking ahead is hard for you? What if you know that 2016 will be a hard year, so you don’t want to think about it until you have to. I used to be one huge on planning. I liked to have everything figured out way ahead of time. It’s taken time and I didn’t accomplish it all at once, but I’ve slowly steered away from that. The truth is, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. We only have the present moment right now that we’re living in, and we never know what tomorrow will bring. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know the One that does, and I know that no matter what happens, that His plan will unfold how it’s supposed to, whether we want it to or not.
The future might seem scary to you. I know that it isn’t going to get an easier. Actually, I know it’s only going to get harder. I try not to let that scare me though. There are days that are harder to keep a smile on my face, but I try to keep those days very, very limited. Instead, I find joy in the struggle. I know that everything is happening for a reason, and that God has everything under control. I find my strength there, my hope, my peace. Whenever I am facing a challenge, I reflect back on Romans 5. In this chapter, it reads..
Not only so, but we also find glory in our sufferings, because we know that
suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured
out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
So though we might be facing challenges, we should find joy in the hard times and persevere. We must let go of what we can’t control, and let God hold us, love us, comfort us, and steer us where we need to go.
I’ve come to a point in life where many people are getting older, becoming very forgetful, and passing away. It’s been difficult, and sometimes I don’t know what to say or do because I know I can’t fix anything. I know I can’t take their pain away, I know I can’t make them remember like they used to, I know I can’t say the words that will make everything okay like it used to be. It’s been hard, but a friend reminded me this weekend that this is only our temporary home. Though it’s hard to watch them age and lose their mind and who they used to be, there’s an eternity with Jesus that they are coming closer to, a place where there won’t be any more pain, any more tears. While I know things are going to get worse as the time goes by, and that makes it hard to look ahead. I can’t think of it that way though, because I know that a life with Jesus in heaven will be so much better than it is here. They won’t be in pain, there won’t be any more tears, they’ll be where they’re meant to be.
When it hurts to look ahead, when it’s scary to think of things that are inevitably going to happen, so you just can’t think of the future, what do you do? Remember that we’re only given today. Look around you, look at the people by your side, be thankful for the time that you have now with those you love. See your family, your friends, see photos you’ve taken, and remember. Remember the laughs, remember the fun times, remember that through it all, Jesus has been and always will be there for you. He loves you unconditionally and unwavering. You might fail, you might get mad, you might not understand what He’s doing in your life, but I promise that you’re where you’re meant to be, and you are surrounded by those that are in your life for a reason. Don’t spend so much time thinking of what might happen, because we never truly know. Don’t fret about the future, focus on the now. There’s no point in being stuck in the past or planning frantically over the future because honestly, all we have is right now. Give hugs, give kisses, hold them in your arms just a second longer than you normally would, laugh, cry, forgive, pray, sing, love. Do it all right now, while you can. Look up, look down, look around.. No matter which way you look, He’s always there, everywhere. He’ll give you strength when you’re scared to face difficult times, He’ll be excited for you in the happy times, and He’ll be there, anytime, anywhere.
As 2015 ends and 2016 begins, there will be good times and bad times for us all, but instead of fearing the future, let us look at it with an open, grateful heart. Let us persevere and love more, smile more, be thankful more. Let’s rejoice through the trials and show the world the love it needs so desperately.
It’s hard not to compare ourselves to others around us these days. With social media, magazines, and other technology taking over our lives, we have access to the lives of other people right at our finger tips, any time of day. Whether it be looking at the pictures of people we’re “friends” with or flipping through photos of celebrities, we typically only see the highlight reel of others. Who honestly wants to post a picture that they think they don’t look good in? Not many people that I know. It’s nice to be able to see what people we know/don’t know are up to, but this can come at a detriment to us without us even realizing it.
Seeing the oh-so-fabulous lives of others can make us feel depressed, like we’re missing out on fun things or like we’re not as important or “cool.” We see all of the things that others are up to and wonder why we weren’t invited or why our life doesn’t have such opportunities as others. We see the happy faces of families spending the holidays together and wonder why our family isn’t like that, or why our relationship isn’t as perfect and seemingly happy as that couple that just got engaged. The list and comparisons go on and on, even if we don’t mean for it to.
Even our daily lives can make it hard to not compare ourselves to those around us. The friends we have, our family members, our coworkers, the cashier at the gas station, the coffee shop owner.. we have multiple interactions with a variety people on a daily basis. With all of the conversations we have, ranging from the most trivial discussion about someone’s favorite food to the most essential topic of whatever you value as important, we gain insight and information about the lives of those we mingle with. It’s similar to social media because rarely do we get down in the grits with those we pass by on the streets and share the struggles that we are facing, but instead we focus on the good things that are happening in life.
It’s easy to get caught up in comparisons and labels of life and forget about who you truly are. You could be a student, daughter, son, granddaughter, grandson, nurse, mother, father, colleague, boyfriend, fiancé, etc. You could have the best job in the world, make big bucks, make nothing, or be unemployed. Whatever your situation, there’s always going to be someone you know that seems to be doing better than you, that seems to have it all figured out. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by this, and lately, I’ve been facing a lot of these instances and began comparing myself to those I spoke with. Those around me seem to have their lives together. They’re either working a full-time job or know what they’re going to do with their lives after graduation. There’s some that have had a significant other for years, some that are single, some that are married, and some that have babies. Some are earning a lot of money, some hardly getting by paycheck to paycheck. The list can go on for days, but you get the gist. It might be easy to relate to others that are at similar point in their lives, but it’s also easy to forget that where you are is where you’re meant to be and that you’re who you are for a reason and you’re 110% more than enough.
There have been times lately, especially with being back at home where everyone knows everyone, that I’ve had conversations with others about what I’m doing post-graduation, and sometimes it isn’t easy and people don’t always understand why I do what I’ve been doing, and how I can keep working contract jobs without any set plan. It’s made me question what I’ve been doing, ponder how I could find a job where I’d have a set schedule and a permanent spot behind a desk. Would I be happy? Maybe, maybe not.
The glorious realization I’ve slowly come to is that I can’t let others opinions of me change who I am or what I want to do with my life, and neither should you. I’ve been becoming comfortable with the fact that I am enough. I am more than any label or job title or salary. I’m a girl that might not have it all figured out, but I know a God that does. I know that He has a plan for me, and I know that I continue to put all of my trust in Him to lead me where I need to go. I’ve come across people that have changed my life forever and I’m infinitely grateful for their friendship. I might love with all of my heart and care way too much about everyone, but I know that one day, that love will be returned by the man that God created for me to share this life with. I’m a girl that loves to be outdoors, that can’t sit behind a desk all day because I love being out working and interacting with others, trying to make even a small impact on their lives if I can.
I know this life is precious. I know that in an instant our entire lives could be flipped upside down. I know that none of us are promised tomorrow. I never let an “I love you” go unsaid. Can you really ever love too much? I find beauty in sitting outside and watching the sunrise or sunset, staring up at a star-filled sky for hours and feeling so infinitely small because our God is so incredibly huge. I like to make people smile, to make sure that they know they are important and can make a difference in this world. We all can, and we’re all important.
If you’re feeling like you aren’t good enough for someone or something, let me be the first (or the twentieth) to tell you that you are. If you feel alone or unwanted, misused or misunderstood, there’s One person that will ALWAYS be there for you, that thinks the world of you, of whom you’ll always be enough for. He would rather die than live without you. Ephesians 3:18—“I pray that you… will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love --- how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is.” So forget about the labels, the comparisons that are so easy to make, and focus on you and how greatly you are loved. You are more. More than any label or comparison you could think to make. You are more than the money you make, the job you do, the degree you have, the places you’ve been, and the pictures you post. See that sunrise, you've been given another new day to be the person that God created you to be. Feel that heartbeat? You're alive for a reason. You are a Son or Daughter of Christ, and you are loved more in a moment by an amazing Savior than anyone else could ever love you in a lifetime. You’re enough, and you always will be.