My crash course of life lessons began around Thanksgiving in 2016. By January 2018, I realized that I had learned more this one year than I have in all of my 54 years combined. I learned things that I didn’t know that I needed to know. I thought I already knew. Turns out that I didn’t. I’d like to bullet point those lessons for you. I’ll reference the blogs I wrote, so that you may see what it was like for me at the time. I’ll also share some recent lessons.
The lessons I've learned:
- I’m a liar. I discovered that by not acting on those little red flags that, no doubt, my guardian angels are waving like air traffic controllers, I’m lying to myself. In rereading that blog, and with consideration of what God has been setting into action for my life now, I see that that first lesson was prepping me for what is surely to come in 2018.
Read: "Big Fat Liar" http://usablevessel.com/big-fat-liar/
- Forgiveness is a technique. We know to “forgive and forget”, but how do we do that when the mind remembers? The mind must remember so that we don’t repeatedly place ourselves in hurtful situations. However, if the thought of a specific hurt stays with you long enough to invoke an emotion, you haven’t forgiven the other person. The technique of forgiveness is this: The moment a hurtful situation surfaces in your mind, give it to God with all your consciousness. Then move your mind, deliberately onto something pleasant. Do what works for you. For example, turn on the radio. Just hum a song in your head (praise songs work wonders). Do whatever you do to go to your “happy place.” Train your mind to do this. The faster you flip your thoughts into that other gear, the easier it becomes. Eventually, it’s automatic. Early in 2017, I had faced a devastating hurt. Writing about it now, brings it to my mind. Satan would like nothing more than for it to stay there and damage me, but I refuse to give him that. Instead, “Here you go, Father God, it’s all yours. Thanks. You’re better equipped to handle it than I am.” Now, moving on with this blog.
Read: "No Apology Required" http://usablevessel.com/no-apology-required/
- Love is a decision. It’s not an emotion. Whenever our emotions take over in any given circumstance, we make really stupid decisions; say and do all the wrong things. Love is an action. Love and forgiveness are choices we make. They go hand-in-hand. You must wake up every day and decide to love your partner. That often means forgiving them several times throughout the day. Choosing to love someone is deciding to accept everything in that person that doesn’t quite measure up in your mind as ideal. Once you’ve trained yourself to truly forgive, love through anything, and make every effort to minimize hurt to your partner, the true love emotion can take over. Love is an action. Act on it. The reward for your faithful action is being granted the true emotion.
Read "Make Love Your Emotion" http://usablevessel.com/make-love-your-emotion/
- I can’t control outcome. For three months, I had been coaching myself to hand my hurt over to God, when all the while, I was trying to control the outcome. I found myself making suggestions to God as to how he could work reach another person’s heart. What?! Had I lost my mind? Who has the nerve to suggest to the Almighty God of Heaven how He should handle something. I know, go ahead and laugh. I’m sure God giggled every time I did it. There’s so much that I can’t control, but I know what I can do: (1) I must always remember who God is. (2) I must remember what it means to “hand it over.” Whenever I hand something over, it is no longer mine. I must do so with the understanding that I have no say in what becomes of it. (3) I must fully grasp the understanding of the words, “Thy Will be done.” And (4) I must accept the outcome that God delivers.
Read "Who Do I Think I AM" http://usablevessel.com/who-do-i-think-i-am/
- Pray for God to heal the other person first. I had caused a great hurt to someone I love. I would never do it intentionally, but it was the result of my actions and/or non-actions in a situation. My loved one’s reaction to the hurt I caused ended up hurting me deeply. That was were I was praying for God to fix the situation to my liking. Once I acknowledged to myself that I must accept the outcome that God delivers, it occurred to me that what I really wanted is for my loved one not to feel the hurt anymore. I found myself praying for God to heal their hurting heart. I realized that by God healing my loved one’s hurt, I would truly be happy. In writing this now, “repentance” is the word I hear. I surely am face-to-the-floor repentant.
Read "Pray For Them First" http://usablevessel.com/pray-for-them-first/
- Bare bones faith. In May of 2017, I ended a contract position. Having workded contractual jobs for over a year, I had never gone more than two weeks without employment. I wasn’t worried. I even called in a large monthly pledge to KLove Radio. Out of pure faith, I called again and added to it. I planned on using the time between jobs to finish my novel, “InSight”. It had been almost 3 years since God gave me the story and expected me to write it. I wrote the book while several agencies monitored employment opportunities, and while I surfed the internet daily, sending out my resume`. I encourage you to read the blog to learn the details of my miracle day. I learned through the experience that God will take care of me. He does take care of me. I learned to immediately recognize and acknowledge, with praise, the smallest actions God takes on my behalf. Because those are the hold-you-over-for-now things that are in play while He works on the bigger ones.
Read "Manna From Heaven" http://usablevessel.com/manna-from-heaven/
- What we value is never truly lost. By mid-summer, God had removed possessions and loved ones in my life. I learned recently that they’re not lost. They’re recategorized. Their position in my life has changed, yet they are still present in one way or another. What God takes away, He replaces with something that is far better than we could’ve imagined. I’m finding joy in the anticipation of that promise.
Read "Joy In Loss" http://usablevessel.com/joy-in-loss/
Now, I’ll share some of my more recent education.
- Social Media is different when you’re public. God has brought over 4,000 friend requests to me on Facebook. I began receiving over 100 requests per day during the time I was finishing the novel. I did nothing to prompt the influx. Because of this, the majority of my “friends” are people who know nothing about me, and most will never care to learn. I’ve learned that a vast amount people take posts one at a time without context or back story. They comment on the comment and not the conversation. I’ve also sadly discovered that the most judgmental people, at the ready to condemn, with the sharpest of tongues and no effort to research origin before they cut, are self-proclaimed Christ followers. It hurts my heart to have discovered this. However, God has taught me throughout the last year, that I’m to no longer stay silent and allow someone to assume something that is incorrect. I’ve learned that silence permits them the belief that their assumption is correct. I’m so grateful to learn this because Christians will be my biggest supporters…and my biggest critics. I’ve been a “people pleaser” all my life, and I know now that I’m not to adapt to please others. I have only ONE to please. For HIM, my Father God, I will stay the course. Through this, my skin will become thicker.
- I’ve learned to be excited to discover what God has in store. Each person who’s entered my life in the last year has been placed there by God. Every person has a role in where this goes and how it gets there. I don’t know where God is taking His work (my writing). He’s bringing people to encourage me, people to aid in moving the work forward, people to offer new projects, and people to get all of the work out by word of mouth. He’s also touched my heart by bringing me people who I’ve been able to encourage. I’m watching this with as much excitement as my friends are. It’s like my life has become a TV series: I wonder what characters God will bring into the season. After all, He’s the writer.
- Discernment and boundary setting. God has brought to me some not-so-favorable people that have helped me to exercise lessons in discernment and assertiveness. I’ve learned to set strong boundaries. And most importantly, to adhere to them. The only thing I’ll say here is that I refuse to ever settle again for something because it’s convenient over what’s best for me. If I wait on God, He’ll bring what’s best. And it will be far greater than I could’ve imagined. I’ve learned to wait on the desires of my heart by keeping busy with the tasks God sets before me.
- The value of time. I work a full-time job, and in recent months, have worked many overtime hours as well. This leaves little time for writing. My pastor, Bart Williams, says, “Be faithful in the little.” For many, that may mean finances, but for me, it’s the time I have to write. I know that if I’m a good steward with the little writing time I’m allotted, by seizing every moment to write, God will grant me more. This is teaching me structure and discipline. This is preparing me for the day when my full-time job is writing. Carpe Diem: Seize the Day.
Well, there you have it; 54 years of lessons in one tough, yet awe inspiring year. I’m humbled and grateful for these lessons. I have faith that they’re purpose has been to prepare me for where He’s taking this work. I’m the vessel He’s chosen to implement these tasks. And I required preparational training. It has certainly been a renewing of the mind for me. God has molded me into a much stronger vessel. The process isn’t an easy one, but diamonds are made under pressure. May I always sparkle brightly for Him.