We are well into the new year (10 days in). Coming out of the busyness of the holidays and New Year, I was left drained physically, mentally, and emotionally. I had given everything I had to my work and my family, and it took some time for my body to forgive me for going non-stop for so long.
But now, I am on good terms with myself again, and we can now look back on the craziness that was 2016 and reflect upon the learnings and the love that came from those 366 days (it was a leap year, for those wondering).
Despite being a little behind, I wanted to share my top five learnings and loves from this past year. So here’s to a little trip down memory lane.
[Top Five Things I Learned & Loved in 2016]
1) Perspectives, version 2.0 (What My Child Taught Me)
Back in April of 2016, I wrote this post about how I learned to see the world through a fresh set of eyes…specifically, through the lens of a newly minted toddler. Everything is new, exciting, and a chance to learn something new (like “Don’t put your fingers where burros will be able to bite them.”)! I became a student of life again as I took precious moments to follow around this person who is so much like me, yet has this completely different perspective on this great big world. My older eyes had lost sight of the beauty in the midst of the rampant ugliness that unfortunately permeated through that year. I couldn’t see past the sinful injustices of mankind and how they had marred the beauty that is life.
But this little person took my hand and showed me that life is still beautiful
if you don’t let the ugliness blind you to that fact.
When we recognize that fact, we are able to experience a sense of hope for the future and love for our fellow man. When we remember to see the world through eyes untainted by a sense of loathing and hatred, we can start working towards seeing and loving things in a whole new way.
2) Less Mess, More Life (What Capsule Wardrobing Taught Me)
I’m not going to lie and say that the idea of “less is more” was a new one for me in 2016. I’ve always been one to enjoy a good purge here and there (more often than not). Maybe I was mean to live a Spartan existence, maybe not…but I enjoy a clutter-free life. So switching to the “Capsule Wardrobe Mentality” was an easy transition for me.
What I DID find most fascinating about the experience was the fact that having a smaller wardrobe does not lessen my options in the style department. As long as I am extremely purposeful in the selection of each piece, knowing how it will be worn and fits into the wardrobe as a whole, a smaller wardrobe doesn’t detract from my desire to look presentable, nay, STYLISH! In fact, having fewer items has actually increased my sense of personal style, and putting together outfits has been pretty much a no-brainer for me. #winning
3) Freedom in Structure, Planning, and Routine (What Bullet Journaling Taught Me)
Once again, this idea of a structured routine and planning out the day is not something new to me. I have always desired and thrived with more structure. But to FINALLY find a system and structure that I’ve been able to stick to for over a year now (started mid-2015)? I have never had a more productive year…more purposeful year…a year I felt more accomplished…than 2016.
I will admit that the creating a structure/plan/routine and sticking to it does not work for everyone. Even I have had days where things did not go has planned because, well, LIFE happened. But for my particular personality type and lifestyle, I have found so much freedom in this system…even on those #LifeHappens days! After all, if a plan doesn’t work one day, there is always opportunity to catch up on the next. But we need to know what the plan was in the first place in order to catch up. So I feel a huge sense of relief and freedom in knowing that I don’t have to worry about not being able to remember what I had to get done.
4) How an Attitude of Gratitude Changes Everything (What Marriage Taught Me)
This is definitely an area that I have discovered, but have yet to master. I fear actually putting this down “on paper” because certain people like to use my words against me and heap on judgement and guilt because I have not mastered this and fail in this on a daily basis (sometimes hourly basis).
So, disclaimer, I’m still in the infant stages of learning this one! Be gracious.
There is a marked difference in me – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – when I choose to have an outlook of gratitude. The place I learned this the most is in my interactions with my husband. When I decide to seek out the things in him that I appreciate and am grateful for, my behavior and words to him are so much more honoring than if I choose to see only his faults and shortcomings.
Yes, even my very own Gilbert Blythe has his shortcomings.
But this is not limited to only my interactions with and perceptions of him. How I choose to see and experience the world around me sets the tone for how I interact with and treat others around me…or whether I even WANT to have others around me. By having an attitude of gratitude towards all aspects of life, be it marriage, motherhood, friendships, or even daily provisions & possessions, I become a much more pleasant, agreeable person – dare I say, someone other actually wouldn’t mind being around.
5) Faith Grows in my Surrender of Control (What God Taught Me)
Possibly the most important lesson I learned this past year was the lesson of relinquishing control. Whether my need to control everything in my life was something I was born with (part of my innate sinful nature, if you will) or learned over time (though I can’t pinpoint what could have caused it anywhere in my life), it has always diminished my ability to trust…
…myself, my friends/family, and even God!
And when I can’t trust, my relationship and faith in God and others is severely impacted. I can’t get close when I can’t trust, and it’s something that has eaten away at me and, ultimately, made me unable to love myself.
While the lesson of relinquished control and increasing trust in others started long ago (the two main catalysts being the three years I taught history/economics in a public high school and becoming a mother), 2016 was the year it really took off in me. It all started with this one idea that was spoken into me by a good friend (and supervisor at work) at the start of this year:
“I don’t want you to function out of a spirit of defeat.
I want you to function from a spirit of VICTORY!”
…the whole premise of this being that, after all, we have already won in Christ. Everything else is ICING!!
Seriously. This one conversation and idea changed my life.
Thank you, BennyD!
The reason I always functioned out of a spirit of defeat was because I always tried to do everything myself. I depended only in myself. Unfortunately, I’m completely limited in my capabilities because, well, I’m HUMAN! I am always in “damage control” mode because I know I am going to fail. This is, no surprise, an extremely depressing and difficult way to function.
But once my mindset slowly moved towards victory…as it began to change to “Christ has already won the war for me,” I began to realize the perfection I needed to “win” was completely obsolete – because Perfection itself came and won already. I just needed to place my faith in His Perfection.
I am free to work out of joy…and to trust and open up to others as we work together in this beautiful, magnificent VICTORY that was won for us.
And with this freedom, comes the ability to complete trust the One who made it possible. He is more than enough for me. #JehovahJireh
Looking back, 2016 has been a year of major growth for me. There have been so many opportunities to learn…so many areas where I have been stretched…so many rough patches smoothed…and I have loved every moment of it. I can only imagine what’s in store the next 365 days (well, 355 now).
Here’s to a new year! To 2017! Another fresh start in “living to learn and love.”