Reflecting on 2018 this year has been one of many seasons, and many lessons. This year started out on a high note… I rang 2018 in at Elevation Church for their NYE service and told myself 2018 was definitely going to be the best year yet, and it has. I’ve made some of the best friends I have ever had, friends that I consider family now. I found a new home church that was everything I didn’t know I was missing. Started my career. Got baptized (again, this time by choice). Was blessed enough to have an amazing birthday with my family and closest friends celebrating me. And now another Christmas has come and gone… it feels like it was JUST December 2017 but it’s already time to ring in 2019.
First I want to share with you all some of the more important lessons that I have learned in 2018… I’m going to try to keep this short and in chronological order but I can be a bit scatterbrained sometimes so here goes nothing:
- Transparency. Being completely authentic is the best thing you can be. My best friendships have been formed on the basis of being authentic with each other, not putting on any masks, but truly being ourselves. It’s rare to find nowadays. So, when you find people like this, befriend them, and don’t let them go. These are the people you can trust the most, who want the best for you, and will hold you accountable because they want you to meet every one of your goals. People who are here to build you up… You’ll know them when you come by them.
- Break out of your comfort zone as often as you can. I’ve always been a bold person but last year was a year of change for me, and working on myself. I became a little more reserved and comfortable with where I was at and didn’t want to risk slipping out of the security blanket that at the time, was keeping me in a decent place. Because of this, I went into 2018 a little cautious with everything and wanted to stick with what I knew… Breaking out of my comfort zone has 100% been the best thing that has happened all year. A friend of mine invited me to a new church and unwrapping that blanket led me to a church I now call home, and people I call family. Leaving my comfort zone this year also led me to a new place, a new job, and a new life for myself. So, from here on out I will no longer allow my comfort zone to stop me from being bold and taking risks because they’ve led to the best experiences.
- Intentionality. Being intentional is one of those things that goes along with being transparent. It is a huge mark of your character and integrity. It goes a long way with others. I’ve come to realize that people just aren’t intentional anymore. Instead of picking up a phone, calling you and asking how you are they’ll send a snapchat. Or a “dm.” What happened to sending out birthday cards? Calling someone up out of the blue just to say “hey thinking about you!” One of my favorite compliments I have ever received has been “you’re purposeful with people.” I didn’t realize how important of a quality that actually is until this year. Don’t beat around the bush with people, be direct. If you feel a certain way with someone, tell them, and be honest. Don’t hide behind a phone screen. Be upfront, meet them and talk to them. People may not remember all the things you say to them, but one thing they will never forget is the way you make them feel.
- You have a voice for a reason, use it. That’s partly why I have this blog. It started out as a way for me to get the thoughts out of my head and hopefully relate to others but somewhere along the journey it turned into a place for me to speak out, and be a voice for others who may feel alone in their experiences. If you know me in the real world, then you already know I am not afraid of speaking up and telling you exactly what I am thinking and feeling. Sometimes that’s a little too much to handle for certain people, but I consider that a blessing now because if they can’t, then they aren’t strong enough to be in my life. I’ve really started using my voice this year, but for good. And I am dang proud of myself. I’ve made a lot of things happen for myself this year and it came by just being me and using my voice. If you feel like something has been laid on your heart… speak up and say it.
- Guard your heart. If someone has hurt me, I’m not going to let them know. I don’t like giving people the power of knowing they’ve hurt me. So typically I’ll act like nothing ever happened toward that person in attempt to make them believe their actions had zero affect on me. I’m the type of person I’ll share what’s going on with my closest friends and sometimes family but to the rest of the world everything is going smooth… I guess that’s just the stubbornness in me, I get it from my mom, okay? But in all honesty, I’d love to be able to tell y’all that I didn’t experience a single heartache this year but that would be a lie. I tried SO hard to keep anything that could hurt me as far away as possible but I’ve failed. I’ve always been a firm believer in if something is meant to be at a certain place in time, it will be. But, one thing I haven’t been the best at is when you give things to God and say “your will be done” you have to release yourself from whatever you were holding onto… completely. Don’t try to meddle in the middle. Give it all up completely and relinquish any power you may still be trying to hold on to. I did not do that, and it led to a pretty hurtful heartache. I wasn’t completely heartBROKEN… There is a difference in your heart aching and your heart breaking. A heartbreak would entail much more than what I experienced this year so I am grateful that there were none but heartaches can be almost as bad, but for a different reason… It’s just like a headache. Yeah, it hurts but usually it’s bearable, you can work through your head hurting and still be perfectly fine as if nothing has even happened…. but the thing about headaches is they come and they go. You’ll be completely normal, and then BAM, out of nowhere one will hit you. That’s what a heartache is for me. I have no rhyme or reason to miss and hurt over something, yet I would. As a result of this experience, my heart is so guarded now. I’m serious y’all this thing is like Fort Knox… NOBODY is getting in there any time soon. You’d have to strategically put together some form of sneak attack just to put a crack in the first barrier. So, if any of you guys out there reading this are remotely interested in me at the current moment, find someone else. I’m only interested in myself and Jesus… which brings me to lesson 6….
- Trust God in ALL things. This year I have trusted Him in every single aspect of my life, especially the heartaches. It really allowed me to take a step back and say “okay, I’ve come a long way, and I’ve done a lot better than before, but I need to focus my attention completely on Jesus.” Because until God sits at the throne of my heart, I will never be able to let someone else in without letting part of Him out. I had a little work to do on myself. Even though I loved Jesus, He didn’t have complete ownership of my heart and any guy could have come in and disrupted that if they wanted… and they almost did. And isn’t it funny how God always knows when things NEED to happen, even when we don’t? For reasons I couldn’t wrap my head around at the time, I finally understand. I get it. And that’s such a beautiful moment; when you see the work of God in a situation you didn’t understand, especially the disappointing ones. When Romans 8 finally reveals itself from a confusing situation…”And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” If y’all don’t believe me when I say He is a jealous God…. HE IS A JEALOUS GOD and will do whatever it takes to disrupt whatever it is that is keeping you from knowing Him, being obedient to Him, and loving Him completely
- Let people go. I don’t have to go into too much detail about this one because I wrote pretty much an entire blog about it once so I’m just going to get right to the point here: Let it be and let nature run it’s course in your life.
- It’s okay to fail. Failure is inevitable. At some point you are going to fail at something. But like my homie Bob Ross always said “No mistakes, just happy accidents.” Maybe you were rejected, it’s okay. A big thing I have learned this year is that every single rejection in my life has really been a redirection. Maybe it’s a flat out no–never happening–scenario, or maybe it’s God’s way of saying –not right now… Regardless, don’t beat yourself up over messing up or a missed opportunity, you don’t have that kind of power to “mess up” the plans He has for you.
- This lesson is one that I had to remind myself of fairly recently: Actions always speak louder than words... I’ve come to terms with the possibility that some people may not be who I thought they were. And I think that is the part that hurts the most. Not losing, or missing someone, but realizing that maybe you were wrong about them. Especially when it’s someone you don’t want to be wrong about. But actions speak louder than words ever do. Every time. It all goes back to lesson number 3 about intentionality. You can tiptoe around the elephant in the room but it takes integrity to put your pride aside, pick up a phone and be intentional. Whether that’s to apologize or just ask “hey, how are you?” At some point in life you are going to disappoint someone, but your actions, and how you reclaim your credibility with them is the true judge of your integrity. So always, in every single situation, let your honest actions speak for what you want your words to reflect.
- Be proud of you. The person you’ve become. Look back on where you were and how far you’ve come. After all you have worked so hard on yourself, and that is definitely something to be proud of. Wherever you are at in life right now– YOU’VE gotten yourself there. You put in the time, the effort, everything to get you to the point you are at, and that’s a pretty amazing thing. Give yourself a compliment. If I had to compliment me, I think I would tell myself “You’ve got heart, Maddie. You’ve got soul. You’ve got a beautiful mind. Most importantly, you’ve got the creator of the universe running through your veins, and you can do absolutely anything.”
A dear friend of mine asked a question recently: “What is your word for 2019?” And I thought to myself “well dang, I didn’t even make up a word for 2018.” So, me being me I reflected on this year and tried to find some sort of a pattern. There was never a specific word for 2018 that I was determined to stick by, but looking back I definitely think my word would be “abide” for so many reasons. But mainly being that this year has really been one of remaining in God and trusting in God through all of my seasons. And I have, and I’ve stuck by Him, and 2018 has been the best year for me. I owe it all to abiding in Him and the plan He has for this life I was chosen for.
So now I have to come up with a word for the new year… I’ve thought long and hard about this one and when I finally came up with it, I realized that it was right in front of me all along, and so, so simple.
My word for 2019:
In the King James Version, “seek” is mentioned 244 times in the Word of God.
I’m not going to list all of them but here are a few that stood out to me:
“Seek first the kingdom of God…..” -Matthew 6:33
“You will seek me and you will find me, when you seek me with all of your heart.” —Jeremiah 29:13
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find;…..” -Matthew 7:7
“With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!” -Psalm 119:10
“For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “seek me and live”” Amos 5:4
“My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you….” -Isaiah 26:9
One verse that really stood out amongst the others: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” -Luke 19:10
Not only does our Father want us to seek Him, but he also seeks US. Jesus came to seek us and to save us. To set us apart. How amazing is that? To belong to a God that would go after us, and fight for us so relentlessly. Not only does he want us to seek Him, but He promises to seek us right back.
And my favorite…
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” -Psalm 34:4
I’ve remained in Him and with Him but I don’t think I actually sought after Him like I should have. So I am making it a mission for 2019 to be my year of “seeking.”
To go after Him whole heartedly, to fully know Him, and to truly deliver myself from my fears because I still have a lot of them. One by one He has torn down every fear I’ve set before Him, and I want nothing more than to be able to live so incredibly fearless that the enemy is intimidated by the mention of my name.
Here’s to you 2018, you’ve been the best one yet, and it’ll be pretty hard to top you, but I’ve got a lot of faith in 2019.