Happy New Year, friends! It is finally 2021 and I have no pictures to show for new years besides my family Christmas pictures. Haha. Whatever works, right? Besides, I wanted to talk about what I’ve learned in 2020 that taught me a lot which I will bring in this new year.
The first thing I’ve learned is that even though the things around you may seem like it’s difficult or crumbling down, we can only control ourselves and our own reactions – and I’m talking mostly bout COVID life here, but it can very well be applied with anything that can affect us in life.
We all know we cannot control things that are out of our control. We stress about it and let it consume us, but what does it solve or do? Nothing. Except it adds more stress and I can safely assume that our minds just go out of control because we are basing so much from our own point of view and our own feelings. What happens when we stress? We get a headache, feel tired, feel sick, and we actually believe our bodies are sick and tired when it is actually our minds!
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
This verse is powerful, but can easily be dismissed. We probably don’t want to apply it when we’re too consumed in our own despair. Guarding our hearts mean to keep it faced towards the Lord and His purpose, instead of it tending to our own grunts, mumbling, and complaining. We don’t know why things happen, but use this wisdom to be patient enough to see it through. Concentrate on contentment and the blessings we do have over what we don’t have.
What will happen if we let our hearts spiral down? Everything we do will absolutely flow from it. If we let our hearts continue to be in sorrow and anger, then we can bet the way we carry ourselves will be a reflection of that. We will be short tempered, stubborn, or even worse… close our hearts and refuse to hear or see those around us.
Likewise, amidst any storm in our lives, if we choose to have wisdom to still act in joy, forgiveness, humbleness, speaking life and love, and have full trust in the Lord that He will take care of all things… What does this picture look like? Oh, we will be full of light in our eyes and in our Spirit that those who do not know Christ will know Him through us. Our bodies will beam rays of strength and power that even the trials and tribulations of life will not affect us long term.
It’s ok to be sad, angry, or worry, or be in disappointment, but we must not stay there for too long that the light in us goes away. What purpose is our life then? After all, isn’t this the full purpose of life? To help people know Christ. If we are too busy putting ourselves first, how do we share the characteristics of Christ?
The second thing I’ve learned is to have the ability to discern what is right and what is wrong. Things may seem “right”, but if we take a step back… we can clearly see that it isn’t so. Things may seem “wrong”, but if we dig deep and ask questions, we may start to see the actual message. John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” We base on what’s right and what is wrong from our own view, but let’s take a step back on what the whole picture looks like. What does God tell us?
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1
I can put this exact verse in conjunction with my own life. I call it my awkward and uncomfortable phase in my journey with Christ. Oh, it was my hell. I knew God was trying to speak to me, more so because I was asking Him to come into my life and to understand Him. He answered those prayers, but my gosh, I didn’t know what it will take for those prayers to be answered. Everything else around me said to accept Christ is wrong. Picture me in a family with a different “religion”, wanting to break out to KNOW Christ but everything I knew in my life would not even let me pick at the lock on my chains. Imagine the disappointment and embarrassment that my family felt and possibly faced from their family, friends, or community. It was a huge blow of disrespect to my family!
If I did not listen to God and use the discernment to know what could possibly be right or wrong in the eyes of God, but instead listened to who I thought I was supposed to listen to because my family have taken care of me all my life and have sacrificed so much… I would not be where I am today. Oh, what a storm that was, but God proved to me that He will mend it all together.
From the threat of being disowned from my family to a relationship where we can accept each other and act fully in love DESPITE our huge differences, this is a great start. At least this way, my family can know that I did not put myself in a dangerous situation, but instead see how much Jesus has saved me that there is a light in my eyes full of joy and a Spirit that can keep going on and on. I was not that person before, but God turned it around through years of me saying, “Yes, Lord”. Years of me learning, also failing, as well as forgiving myself and choosing to hear God keep telling me I AM forgiven.
The third thing I’ve learned that is probably pretty huge is realizing that the more we do God’s word and to act in His Spirit, the more the enemy will try to steer you off this path. This is what you call, Spiritual warfare.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”- 1 Peter 5:8
He instructs to be alert to this because the enemy looks to devour. The enemy wants us to stay broken, to feel lost, and be bound. It can be from a complete stranger, a co worker, a friend, a significant other, family, and even yourself. The enemy does not like it when we put God first or when we apply His teachings to our lives, so he will find and use anyone and anything to distract us and kick us off this path, EVEN OURSELVES. Don’t be fooled or manipulated, but be alert. Don’t let our minds go amok or our hearts turn sour, this will. just. destroy. Since we can do this to ourselves, other people can do this to us. Which brings me to have to absolutely bring this up:
This is a reminder that the people who are attacking you…is not the actual enemy. The enemy is unseen, so we are called to love and pray for those people who are attacking you even if we could only do so from far away. Those people that can seem like the enemy are manipulated and is used by the devil and they are choosing to let it happen.
So if the enemy can manipulate even ourselves to steer ourselves off this path, the enemy will absolutely manipulate other people to steer us off this path. If the people we are in conflict with do not want to speak with wisdom and understanding or come into an agreement, then it is up to God because nothing is far away to God. If we talk to Him, He WILL handle it all. If this is something so unbelievable, let my life be an evidence. It may or may not be of subject, I don’t remember what I wrote but it is evidence that God takes care of things. There you will read about my experiences, thoughts, failures, and God handled everything. All we have to do is give it to Him and practice peace and patience.
The fourth and last thing I learned this past year is no matter what happens, no matter the pain it inflicted, how big or small, we have to always forgive just as God has forgiven us. I felt like I wanted to be mad at the whole year of 2020, at how the country handled it or how my state handled it, or how people in general acted but I remembered in the fall of 2019… I was weirdly magnetized to read the revelation book and to study it. I read books and the revelation book in the bible, and even an audio devotionals because I didn’t get it just by reading it. If this makes no sense, download the bible app and read the 7 week series audio devotional called, “Revelations Explained.” WHAT A STUDY and it has really changed my view on life and what things mean.
Looking back, I felt like God wanted me to understand what is to happen and why things happen. He knew I am full of worry and full of anxieties. It probably wasn’t my place or even appropriate sounding, but I had to forgive the year of 2020 LOL. I sound so stupid, but I stopped feeling angry or sad and stopped allowing myself to wallow in worries of things I just can’t control. Just forgive it like it’s a person and move on.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13
I’ll be more serious now, because it is a serious topic. We have all done things that are wrong, we have all made mistakes, we all have done this and I keep repeating this because there is not one person in this whole world or lifetime or previous lifetimes that has not made mistakes besides Jesus Christ. God made himself man to help us feel closer to Him and to understand Him in a way that we can understand, and then allowed himself to be killed just so that WE can be SAVED. He died a gruesome death to save us from all our sins and all we had to do is just accept Him.
So, if He can do all that for us despite all of the things we do and how many times we have put God aside, we can also forgive. Who are we to be unforgiving when God himself forgives us? Proverbs 11:12: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” Ooh, wisdom keeps coming up! Do you realize that wisdom comes from God himself? “For the Lord gives wisdom, from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” – Proverbs 2:6.
What is wisdom? The dictionary describes wisdom as the ability to discern what is true, right, or lasting. Put this together for what the Bible says of wisdom. God says that wisdom is a gift and if you think about it… wisdom cannot exist without knowledge and understanding. In order to live life of what Christ expects of us is to have knowledge of it and one of His very important teachings is to forgive. It is right to forgive despite what you feel or think. Have wisdom to know the importance of what it brings. It brings us freedom because it sets us free of the feeling of bondage from pain and anger.
It puts ourselves where we need to be and that is under God. We no longer feel like we have to be like God and control everything. To me, not being able to forgive is saying that we are better, more right, or matters more than the other person therefore we are subject to control the situation rather than letting it go. Unforgiveness means making the other person feel bound and not free. God says they are free, so who are we to say who is not free and forgiven? That’s a really tough pill to swallow, but it is true. Sometimes speaking truth and speaking life can sound harsh, but if we do not abide by this, what will life be? Reckless, based only on our own feelings, based on our own self, and the joy and the meaning of love is lost. It’s kind of weird to say to respect the Lord as no one really says that, but it is not THAT weird, right?
Respect means to have due regard for feelings, wishes, rights, and traditions. God asks us to forgive and to love. The definition of respect is lost throughout time but it does not mean control, it is not of status, of who sacrificed more, not of who can only receive it, or who it doesn’t apply to. It is not one way. We give respect to anyone, whether they are rich OR poor, older OR younger.
Our kids’ teachers respect their students by speaking kindly to them and understanding them. The kids respect teachers by listening to them for their guidance and when they teach. Can you imagine if teachers just yell at the kids? That would mean they have no regards for our children’s sense of well being and healthy mentality. We give respect to coffee shop baristas, servers, the doctors or nurses, neighbors, to people of all races and ages.
In the same way, give respect to the Lord by taking His gift of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. If it’s hard to do any of these things mentioned in this post… try it in a way where we want to listen to God’s “wishes, feelings, rights, and tradition.”
So there we have it, friends… the four things I’ve learned in the year of 2020. Sounds pretty long, ugh and tough, but 2020 was long, ugh, and tough! At the end of this post, I am starting to see the connection between these subjects and my family Christmas photos. Through it all and in the end of year 2020… Joy is still apparent, smiles are abound, and God still proves to be all powerful. We just have to learn to realize that it is easy to go down a dark path, but takes strength to see the light in that dark tunnel and go through it. I don’t know what to think of what 2021 will bring, but I am choosing to put on the armor of God and to keep my heart guarded, have discernment, be alert, be humble, and keep on forgiving.
Also, a really fun fact: these pictures that you see here was done on December 24th, ONE DAY BEFORE Christmas. Talk about extreme procrastination that our neighbor found humor in all this! Thanks for hanging out with me and reading my novel. Happy new year to you and your family and lets start 2021 with joy in our hearts. Apparently, I wrote nothing about new years for the past two years… so here is my previous post about new years of 2018 if you are bored! That one is more of a resolution and this one is a reflection. See you on my next post!