This year has been filled with ups and downs. From multiple visits to the hospital and countless blood tests, to building my own business and graduating from university – 2018 has taught me a lot along the way.
As each year comes to an end, I love to reflect on the lessons that I have learnt. So here are 18 things that 2018 has taught me.
1. Her beauty doesn’t lessen mine.
I think one of the hardest, yet most beautiful things we can do these days is genuinely fall in love with ourselves. From our personality to our outward appearance, there’s a lot of folding that happens.
We bend into awkward shapes to fit into the mould that society tells us we need to match. But that gets uncomfortable and I can tell you now, I don’t really want to be flexible either. When we recognise that appreciating someone else’s beauty doesn’t lessen our own, everything changes.
2. God is working in the background.
I’m not the most patient person in the world. I tend to get frustrated quite easily and particularly when things aren’t going the way I had planned. Unanswered prayers can feel a lot like that, but while it may seem like He isn’t listening, trust me – He is always working in the background.
3. Embrace change.
You have no idea where you’re going to be this time next year. I can’t believe how much can change in the period of twelve months, let alone twelve weeks. It’s easy to become comfortable and complacent with where we are in life. So when something comes to shake things up a bit or our plans change, it’s all of a sudden inconvenient and downright scary. Getting uncomfortable sometimes is a good thing though. Embrace the change.
4. It’s your perseverance through the struggle that makes you realise how much you want it.
It’s easy to give up when things are getting difficult, but it’s the struggle that you endure during the climb that makes you appreciate the view at the top. We tend to compare our valleys to other people’s peaks, but please don’t forget that they had to do the climbing, too. If you’re giving up easy, then perhaps you didn’t want that end thing (ie. the six-pack, the new job, the dream client, the house, the relationship) as much as you thought you did.
5. find your passion and Run with it.
This year I realised how important your passions are. Passion can be caused by an intense anger about a certain cause or it could be fuelled by a love for something, someone or some place. Once you find what your passionate about, run with that. As soon as you believe in the power you have to make a difference with that fire you’ve ignited in your belly, don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s silly.
6. Find your circle.
Community is everything. Through both my blog and my marketing business, I have found so many beautiful people who support my dreams. You need to find your cheerleaders. The types of people who tell you like it is and encourage you on your journey. Those people who cheer you on and clap for you. But here’s the most important part: they need to clap for you even when you’re not looking.
7. Be kind, anyway.
Not everyone is going to like you and not everyone will be nice to you. The sooner you learn to accept that there are always going to be people like that, the easier it becomes to not care about what they say or think of you.
What I’ve learnt is that you never know what is causing someone to act the way they are. You never know what they are going through. While it’s always much more natural to retaliate, I am trying my best to choose to be kind, anyway.
8. It’s a bad day, not a bad life.
Everything is temporary. Don’t think about that too much (or do), because it’s a seriously insane thought. But it’s also incredibly comforting at the same time – it really depends on the season you are experiencing right now.
You might have a really crappy day or week, ha – it could even be a few months or years. But hold on to the hope that all this pain, sadness and emptiness will one day be filled with eternal life with Him.
9. Our perspective is limited.
Picture yourself peering out of the window of a plane after take off. You can see the little cars on the little road beneath you. There is a car at a set of lights waiting to turn right. They can’t see what lies beyond the corner, but you can.
Our perspective is the same. As much as we would like to think we know it all, we don’t even scratch the surface! We see where we have been and where we are now. But the amazing thing about God is that He sees that AND where we are headed.
10. Someone needs to hear your story.
There is someone who is about to enter into the very season you’ve just come out from. This year, I had the opportunity to share my testimony in regards to a health journey that I experienced. I was hesitant in sharing all of the details, but in hindsight I am so glad I did.
Not only did I get messages from people after they watched it online, but people came up to me straight after I spoke and told me how much they could resonate with it. The takeaway: share your story. Someone needs to hear it.
11. you’re not special, you’re chosen.
There’s a reason why Jesus was born in a manger in a smelly, dirty stable filled with animals. He could have easily been born into a wealthy family, living in an amazing place. But Mary and Joseph weren’t special, they were just chosen by God to do His work.
Same with the disciples. Jesus picked a bunch of unsophisticated and uneducated fisherman. He could have chosen influential and powerful people instead. So why didn’t He? To show that everyday, common people can be used to further His kingdom. You don’t have to be anything the world calls ‘special’, ‘influential’, ‘powerful’ or ‘wealthy’ – you are chosen.
12. Don’t become complacent with what you know.
The church is really good at doing this. You will have people who sit in the pews at church and believe they know everything. But you know what? You need to be willing to learn more, always.
Because it’s the know-it-all’s who cause others to sit in a small group or church service and feel obliged to preface their questions with, “this is probably stupid, but…”
We need to acknowledge different opinions and ideas. We need to appreciate people’s open-mindedness, receptiveness and willingness to learn – regardless of whether they have been in a church for 5 minutes or 5 years.
13. Don’t compare your timeline to others.
It’s incredibly easy to see how not only our friends, but strangers too, are doing life. It’s even easier to then compare ourselves to these people and feel like we haven’t accomplished as much as them.
You can have five gap years after graduating high school. You don’t have to be married by 25. Don’t feel pressured to have kids and start a family if that’s not what you want. Don’t allow the Internet, society and other people rush you. Do life at your own pace. There’s no correct timeline.
14. You are right where you need to be.
God can use you right where you are. You may not see how He is going to use you in your current situation, but trust me – there’s a reason you are going through this. You are going to come out stronger in both your personal and spiritual life.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” – 2 Corinthians 1:4.
If you saw the size of the blessings that are coming your way, you would understand the magnitude of the battles you are fighting now.
15. Make sure you celebrate other people’s wins, too.
Encouraging, supporting and cheering others on does not diminish or lessen your achievements or success. I recognised this even more this year. I tend to play the comparison game hard. I look at how others are serving Jesus, how amazing their writing is or their business wins and achievements and automatically feel a little less happy with myself.
But being confident isn’t about looking at others and thinking, ‘I’m better than them!’ It’s all about, ‘I’m doing really well and so are they!’
16. Tell your grandma you love her, often.
I can’t even tell you how important this is. This year, I have been more intentional with telling my family how much I love them. Each time I say goodbye to my grandmothers and my other family members, I give them a big squeeze and tell them I love them.
If they don’t say it back, I tell them to. Why? Not because I’m forcing them to love me (well, kinda haha), but I’m trying to flip the notion that it’s awkward. Because while we have no hesitation in saying how much we loved that movie we saw last week or how much we love seeing everyone, we rarely tell one another, ‘I love you’.
17. Start your prayers with a thankful heart.
I’ll be real with you. My prayer life isn’t perfect, but it’s a heck of a lot better than it used to be. I used to pray pretty inconsistently. Usually, it was when I needed God. What I have realised now is that it was when I felt like I needed God. Because the truth is, you always need Him.
Now, I make a conscious effort to begin my prayers with a thankful heart. No ‘asking’ for things until I have genuinely had a conversation with Him about how grateful I am for what He has done in my life. Of course, this doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s a work in progress.
18. Never go to bed angry.
My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost three years. In that time, we have had our fair share of arguments. They’re never really that big and after a civil conversation (after I give him the silent treatment, of course), it’s solved.
But one thing that Bryson has taught me is to never go to bed angry with someone. If there is an unresolved problem, solve it. Talk to people. We tend to be quite happy with talking to everyone and anyone about our problems, but as soon as it comes to the person it’s about, no thanks!
This year has taught me so many valuable lessons about life. Not only personally and emotionally, but spiritually as well.
I have labelled Chapter 2018 with the word EXPECTANT and I am praying that Chapter 2019 will be all about GROWTH. What are your labels?
Keep smiling. x
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2 thoughts on “Dear 2018, Thank You for These 18 Life Lessons”
Love this Jess! You are a talented writer and so mature and insightful 🙂 Happy New Year gal!
Aw thank you Ash! Appreciate your kind words! Happy New Year! (Better late than never, right haha!) xxx