Life is often taken for granted. Breathing. Laughing. Walking. Being loved. Freedom. More often than not, we don’t realize what we have been given until it’s taken away. For some reason this last year made me realize this more deeply. We make decisions with one perspective in mind, but fail to see all of the other perspectives we should have considered. But, as is true in my case, we also fail to see the importance of making bold, vulnerable and risky decisions too. We sit too long on the “what if’s” instead of just moving and trusting. This last year I did both of these, in that order, and if I could bottle up the adventurous joy and the feeling of my raw, pure, dependent heart seeming closer to God than ever before, I would sell it from the rooftops and never go back to playing life safe. Life is just too short.
So with that in mind and never wanting to forget this last year, here are a few things I learned:
1. Leadership is not a given simply because you are given a position or title. It is learned and grown just like anything else. True leadership looks much more like serving, encouraging and cheering others on than being in the front giving orders and demanding perfection.
2. Follow your gut. Trust it. It doesn’t mean you don’t learn from and consider the alternatives, but ultimately stick with your gut.
3. Learn to enjoy where you are today. Just choose to be there. All in, 100%, invested. Choose to encourage those around you. Choose to laugh as much as possible and infect the atmosphere with peace and joy, no matter how much you wish you were doing something else. Turn the music up. Read daily jokes. “Pretend” your main goal in life is to love others and let God take care of the timing of all those other dreams.
4. Be genuine. It’s the only thing that counts.
5. God’s timing is not your timing. Ever. There is purpose in every detail of every season. What can look like wasted time, never is. What can feel like being forgotten, never is. What can seem like dis-favor, is probably His favor. He often holds back one thing, so He can actually give you something else-something you had no idea would be the sweetest gift He’s ever given you.
6. Just keep walking and trust His heart. The most difficult valleys often bring the most beautiful growth and reward, but if you stop and make camp in your despair, pity, fear, frustration, a season that was meant for a couple months could turn into years. Your choice.
7. Unity is to be greatly valued. Be that on a team, in your family or your work environment-the devil will do whatever he can to kill, steal and destroy it, because he knows the power it holds. He will try to use the most valid points to appeal to your emotions and often even your calling. Lies will swirl around waiting for you to bite and believe them. They will then start taking root in your heart and mind, chipping away at your identity, all along encouraging you to run, do your own thing or find a new community that will “appreciate you more”. And if he can get you to do that, he has won, and it will be years before you experience the unity you could have had where God planted you.
8. Gratitude is the gatekeeper to the heart. The second you let go of gratefulness is the second you turn over the gate to your heart and what enters there. When walking in gratitude, peace, joy and wonder, over the smallest of things, overwhelms my heart, but when I cross over to ungratefulness, for the slightest second, I then begin wrestling with comparison, frustration, jealousy, feeling invaluable, forgotten, etc. My eyes begin to see from a very shallow and short perspective. My mind begins to measure according to the world’s standards. But if I will just stay grateful…everything is a gift.
9. You get to choose. There are many different seasons in this Christian walk, and I hesitate to say when and why God takes us into each. I haven’t always been in this one, but I do think I’ve been here much longer than I’ve known. A season where God has said, “You get to choose. I trust you because you continue to seek Me, so go ahead, choose what you want. What do you want?” Answering that last part is often the hardest part. Hesitant to get my mind stuck on something that honestly may not happen or God may not give me. It’s this balancing act of bolding asking and vulnerably keeping my mind open to how God may bring it to pass-not at all how I imagined. But it always brings me back to one simple reminder; As a daughter you get to ask for anything in the kingdom, and you know that your Father gives incredibly good gifts, so you can trust that it will always be exceedingly better than you could ask or imagine.
10. God risks are always worth it! Don’t forget it. Be bold as a lion. Lean in. Trust what He’s said. Entrust your heart to Him, knowing He can handle whatever you feel.