Yearly Lessons

To copy a short explanation from my January 2018 post, God has given me a word for the year since 2011. It’s my “theme” for the year; it’s always a word that encapsulates the lessons God winds up working on with me that year.

2011 was my year of grace.

2012 was my year of hope.

2013 was my year of love.

2014 was my year of trust.

2015 was my year of faith.

2016 was my year of surrender.

2017 was my year to learn to follow (God) in a deeper way.

2018 was my year of change.

2019 – 2021 were “dark nights of the soul” years and I did not ask God for a word for the year during this time. But I started the practice again and 2022 gets two words!

2022 is my year of sacrifice and discipline.

Sacrifice: I need to sacrifice some things to attain other/better things (for example, and not limited to this, sacrificing eating the way I want to eat for eating in a much healthier way to attain better health).

“Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to.”  ―Mitch Albom

“There is no progress or accomplishment without sacrifice.” ― Idowu Koyenikan

Discipline: I need to learn to employ (better, stronger) discipline to have the life I want – the life I know God wants for me. There’s a lot encompassed here and I don’t want to get off track, so won’t elaborate now. I will probably do that with a wrap-up post at the end of the year though.

You know, it just struck me that’s what’s been missing from this. It’s not enough to put my word (or “words”) of the year out there – I also need to share what God used them to teach me after all is said and done. I will do that this year.

“Sacrifice, discipline and prayer are essential. We gain strength through God’s word. We receive grace from the sacrament. And when we fumble due to sin – and it’s gonna happen – confession puts us back on the field.” ―Lou Holtz

“Discipline begins where you are, and the key to sustaining the level of discipline you need lies in developing daily habits and routines which mirror the life you want to have.” Mensah Oteh

We’re three and a half months into 2022, but it’s like this year is just beginning for me. I feel like I’ve been hibernating (which may be one reason bears have become nearer and dearer to my heart over the past few years). But I’m slowly waking up, stretching, and rubbing the sleep from my eyes. And the future, like the spring-time sun, appears warm and bright.

Thoughts and Stuff

Approaching my 54th revolution around the sun is making me more introspective than I can adequately describe. I would love nothing more than to take a solid week right now, grab my bible, journal, and a couple of books I feel the need to read through, and go to some scenic, secluded location with no electricity or cell signal and just be completely still.

I’ve been praying a lot lately about some things and I need to make some serious changes in my life. I’ve already begun working towards them, but I will be buckling down going forward in a way I never have before. I’m quite determined that by the time I hit 55 my life will look very different.

***

My heart hurts because I know I’ve hurt God. I’ve compromised my faith. Oh, not in any major ways – but even those small ways (like allowing myself to swear once in a while when it’s just NOT ME anymore to talk that way) can creep inside you, settle in, and make themselves at home, making it easier and easier to “slip” each time and begin to turn back into someone you left behind a long time ago. The most embarrassing part of it is that I deliberately allowed myself to do it in some half-baked attempt to not appear too different or too weird, thinking I’d be more acceptable. But the fact is that I AM different. And in allowing myself to slip back into old patterns I was misrepresenting myself – who I’ve become and Who I belong to.


“But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.’”

Isaiah 43:1

I am His. There’s just no two ways about it.


I used to be comfortable swearing like a drunken sailor. And I did. Often. And I’m not saying I will never slip up again. But deliberately allowing myself to swear to “fit in,” hoping someone will like me more if I behave more like them, just isn’t me. How can I represent Jesus to the world around me if I reflect the world around me more than I reflect Him?


I am not perfect (!!!). Not a single one of us are. I will continue to sin, make an untold number of mistakes, and unintentionally hurt God and people I care about for the rest of my life. But God knows my heart and it is a heart that loves Him and loves others, so I will always seek forgiveness for and growth from these things.


I will not deliberately compromise my faith again though. Especially for acceptance from another person. If someone can’t accept me for who I am – a (flawed) woman who deeply loves and treasures the Lord and wants to live in a way that’s pleasing to Him – that’s their choice.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live,
but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20

***

It’s been really easy, almost a relief in some ways, to be able to indulge the “loner” in me during this whole Covid-19 mess. But I am feeling very much that I need to quit opting to be alone so often – it’s hurting me more than helping. I have periodically pushed myself to initiate getting together with friends or family, but far too seldom. Granted I need to be careful not to fill up my schedule too much otherwise I wind up in bed with a Fibromyalgia flare-up (and sometimes this happens even when I am meticulously careful), but speaking health-wise, when I’m able to socialize I need to do that more often. There are people I care about that I need to make sure know I care about them. I am going to make that a much bigger priority this year. (You heard it here first, folks!) 😀

***

Last night I commented on someone else’s comment in a Christian discussion group I belong to on Facebook. I don’t think I’m going to do that anymore. It’s just not worth the emotional energy I expended.

The woman I commented to, I’ll call her “Tina,” inaccurately referenced Leviticus 19:19 where it says we are not to wear garments of cloth made with more than one material. (To interpret that in a way that’s easily understandable by modern thinking, wearing 100% cotton or 100% wool is ok, for example, but wearing a cotton/poly blend is not.) The whole post was actually about tattoos. “Tina” was responding to a comment made by someone who was condemning the person who posted for getting a tattoo inspired by the show “The Chosen.”

I understood and actually supported “Tina’s” point (which was we are no longer under the law. If you want to live by the law, then you also can’t eat meat, cut your hair, plant more than one kind of seed in your garden, and you can’t wear cotton – which is the part I kindly (I thought!) corrected her on because it’s mixed materials that are not allowed), yet also let her know I agreed with her. The “I agreed with her” part must have gotten lost somewhere in translation because she got very defensive and mean, totally misconstrued what I said, and copped a major superiority attitude. I was blown away that a fellow Christian would react this way. “Tina” (who, I will add, appears to be roughly in her mid-30’s) ended by saying that since I’m clearly not a Christian (WHAT???) if I want to live under the law I’m welcome to, but SHE is living under grace which means she has freedom in Christ.

Um… freedom… to be a bully? See THIS is why so many people have problems with Christians – because of nasty, mean-spirited, judgmental, wagging their finger in your face and beating you over the head with their bibles attitude that so many (well-meaning) brothers and sisters take (and I have a lot more to say on this topic but will refrain for now). And yes, deep down inside I do believe they mean well. They are trying, in their own, messed up, bull-in-a-China-shop way, to open people’s eyes and hearts to the truths in the Bible (although sadly it has the opposite effect). When I encounter these brothers and sisters, and start getting upset, I have to keep reminding myself that we are all deeply flawed and that it took me 34 years to get to where I’m at. And I’m loathe to admit it, but I went through that same, judgmental, finger-wagging phase myself many (many!) moons ago, so this is pretty much a glass houses and stones situation for me.

Ultimately I know I was right (because I know my intentions in posting the comments I did and she got me all wrong), but I deleted my comments and blocked her (she just wouldn’t stop with the parting shots this morning even though I stopped commenting last night), and I added her to my prayer list. I will pray God’s blessings and peace, and His love and wisdom in abundance for her. Hopefully one day (if God doesn’t call us all home to Heaven first) she will be in a position to do the same for someone else.