So last month (February 17) I turned 26. It was a total wow moment for me because it seems like I was just turning 18 two weeks ago. It’s like my Granny always says, “Once you turn 18, it feels like every six months your birthday is coming around again.” I shake my head every time she tells me that because it’s so true. I don’t know about You, but throughout my years as an adult I’ve had plenty of ups and downs. However, I have truly learned to rejoice about it all because the ups are amazing and the downs are always lessons that draw me closer to God. Turning 26 has been pivotal, as God has placed so many desires within me throughout the years; now they are clear and concise and He’s finally given me the green light!
So… even though February has passed, I would love it if You took the time to reflect with me over this list of 8 things this past year has taught me. Prayerfully, these lessons from the Lord will bless You as You continue to grow and trust God, too.
1. Trust God
This one seems like a no-brainer, but there a plenty of times when our mouths say that we trust God and our actions prove otherwise. This year alone, God has showed and warned me about so many situations prior to when they actually occurred—whether in a dream, vision, or through prayer. There have been a few instances when I thought that the small, still voice within me was actually me worrying or thinking hypothetical things, when in actuality it was God literally guiding me through this thing called life. For instance, I used to have a dream about an ex every time he was about to reach out. It was very annoying at first, until I realized it was God trying to prepare me for the various ways he’d outsmart the “block” and try contact me. God will ALWAYS protect His sheep. The wolf can come around in sheep’s clothing, but if You’re diligent and seeking God, He will always give You a forewarning to stay close to Him as He guards You. You just have to trust whatever God tells You. Well, the last dream I had was very vivid and yielded caution within me; none of the other dreams were as bad as this one. A few days later the ex reached out to me saying new things and sounding different—changed even—, yet as soon as I hung up the phone God reminded me of the dream and to stay far away from him. So I did…because I trust God over feelings. In this case, I learned to trust God and the various ways He communicates with me. If You have trouble hearing or knowing when it’s God’s voice, spend time with him. His sheep know His voice—and His ways.
2. Peace of mind is greater than a piece of space
This is pretty self-explanatory. For the later part of last year (October-January) and the beginning of this year I was experiencing a season of transition. When I first moved back to Michigan I didn’t want to live in Detroit because the neighborhood wasn’t the best, so I opted to live with a family member in a better neighborhood. Though it was a blessing, after a while it became very trying and God was moving me elsewhere. The space and location was awesome, but the environment was a constant spiritual war-zone. I eventually moved to that neighborhood in Detroit and the first night in my new room I remembered thinking that peace of mind is greater than a piece of space. Sometimes the place that’s looks like a ‘no’ to the rest of the world, is the very place God wants you to go. Peace isn’t found in an environment, but in Christ alone. It’s funny how God works things out. The church I worked at during the summer is less than two miles away and all the kids that I love pouring into live near me now. I get to be here with them and appreciate and participate in the rise of this city again. I get to be one of the people who spread the gospel to the youth in my neighborhood. Praise God—talk about a perspective change!
3. Enjoy the simple things
Speaking of changing my perspective…I think learning to enjoy the simple things is something that comes with age lol. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned to find joy in the “simple” things. Perspective tells me that the things I deem small may not be so insignificant to someone else; I must live with an attitude of gratitude. So I relish in the moments I can comfortably read an amazing novel. I enjoy sitting at the kitchen table listening to my Granny tell me a story with glee. I’m thankful for dinner dates with my friends that lasts for hours and are filled with laughter and loving truth. I am grateful to have my old car that runs well. I thank God for waking me and giving me another day to be amazed by His goodness. Just last week I bought a jar and I’m filling it with notes of gratitude that I’ll read again at the end of the year. It’s such a good idea and a way to find something “simple” to be grateful for each day. Join me!
4. People will have an opinion about your life, but that isn’t your business.
Do You trust God and care about what He says? Or do You care about what Your family, friends, and the world thinks about Your life? I’ve mentioned previously that I was a “people pleaser”. God might’ve said one thing, but if the world saw fit for me to be doing xyz by 23, then I needed to be doing that. I’m so glad I overcame that—by the grace of God. I have learned to cling to God and what He says, forcing myself to ignore the world’s way. I can’t please God and the world; I have to choose. It’s funny that the world groups us into categories according to our age. We should be doing this by 21; we should own this by 25; we should have kids before 30. Yet God has a specific plan for each of His children. You and I are no carbon copies. God knew us in our mothers’ wombs and created each of us for His purpose—a purpose unlike that of the world and it’s push to accumulate stuff for ourselves. Be about the Father’s business and You won’t have time to worry about what people think about You.
5. Stagnation isn’t the same as waiting for God
This is one of those lessons that prompted an “ouch” response from me, but it was needed. This was a word that God gave me in February about my own life. I constantly had new doors presented to me and I had been telling myself that I was waiting for God to tell me which one to walk through, but I wasn’t really waiting. God convicted me about standing still because I was afraid that if I opened one door I’d miss out on the others. Stagnation is fear; waiting is faith. When You wait for something, You have expectancy for an arrival. When You’re stagnant You’re refusing to move—not because You’re waiting for something, but because something has held You up. For me that was the fear of missing out, but “we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Maybe the thing that’s got You stagnant isn’t fear, but something or someone else. Remind Yourself of God’s promises. He is faithful and greater than anything that would hold You back from what God wants to do through Your obedience.
6. What God gives is always good, but what looks good isn’t always God
Guard your heart. Pray. Tell yourself to NEVER settle. I always say to my friends, “a good guy isn’t necessarily God’s guy”. As a single woman, I constantly have to remind myself that waiting for God’s best means that I won’t settle for something that looks good to the world. Even when everybody is getting engaged and married, I am reminding myself that what God presents cannot be duplicated. There are a lot of guys that are good according to the world’s standards, but there is one for me that is God’s guy. The same for You! And what God gives is ALWAYS good. I’ve learned that I have to be patient and discern the difference between God’s best and the world’s good.
7. Reasons; seasons; lifetimes
This has been reoccurring throughout the years, but this past year I’ve been able to fully comprehend this lesson that my sister-in-love taught me years ago. People come into Your life for reasons, seasons, and lifetimes. I’ve had friends who were walking this walk with me, and then suddenly we were no longer treading along the same path. Initially, I spent time worrying about them, but it wasn’t until I was reminded that I couldn’t save them that I stopped worrying. Jesus is the ONLY savior and The Word says that “He who started a good work in them will finish it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). So I stopped fretting, began praying, and strengthened myself for this life as an ambassador…and you know what, God blessed me with people who are walking the same path as I am. When I started focusing on God, He placed people around me with the same focus. Does that mean they all will be lifetime friends? Not necessarily; sometimes people with the same focus as You will only be a seasonal friend, because God is taking them to another place. Likewise, sometimes people only come into your life to teach you. And then there are the few friends that You are blessed to do life with. Pray and You’ll begin to see the difference between a lifetime and a seasonal friend. Whether a friend is in the first or the last category, I’ve taken something away from their presence in my life.
8. All things work together for the good of those that LOVE Him
So…when I was lukewarm, I used to think the scripture said, “All things work together for the good of those that believe in Him.” I think that a lot of people make this mistake, whether they read it like that or not. Belief is weak in this sense because it doesn’t produce action; only love can do that. As those who love God, it doesn’t mean that things will be perfect and we’ll never face any tests or trials, but it does mean that God will cause all things to work together for our good (action). It isn’t a work-and-receive reward, but it’s the result of loving God. Believing God is something that even the demons do. There are a lot of people that believe that God exists; yet they live in sin because they don’t love Him. All things can’t work together for them because God is not a liar; He does not bless sin. But constantly the Bible says that those who love God will obey Him. I say all this because it encouraged me. Sometimes when we’re living for God and doing what He says, things don’t always look great around us, but stay encouraged; stay the course. Because You love Him, He is working everything out on Your end to come together and make sense whenever He deems it the right time. Don’t fret; all things are working for Your good! Keep loving Him and keep choosing God in the midst of whatever is going on in Your life.
Thanks for reflecting with me. It was cool to write down the things God taught me over this last year. Of course, it’s been more than eight lessons, but these are the few that stood out. I would love to hear what God has taught you—whether it’s on this list or not. Iron sharpens iron, and hearing your lessons surely will bless me!
Continue to be the light and share the gospel,