What a year … perhaps one I wouldn’t choose to rush back to repeat. Just me?
As the year comes to a close and the beginning of a new year approaches, I’ve felt challenged to try take the good things of this past year and hold onto them, learn from them and use them as a platform for stepping into the unknown of another year full of uncertainty. However hard it has been to sometimes find the good things this past year there has been plenty – I’ve just had to learn to look for them.
I recently was listening to someone on Radio 1 share a letter that they had written to their ten-year-old self of things they wish they had known when they were younger. It really challenged and inspired me to think about this past year through a different perspective so I thought I would write one for myself … for the past year … of things I have learnt and valued and which I want to make a point of holding onto.
So here goes … maybe some of these will resonate with you as you also reflect on the year you have gone through.
So Bridget …
Heads up the year starts in Resus in A & E with your daughter … and you’ll end up there again later on…however it will be okay. Pesky Asthma. There is however something to be grasped and learnt here and you might as well realise it now … you’re not going to be able to do this year on your own and it starts on the 1st of the year! So, learn it now, you need others around you and being ‘resilient’ doesn’t look like copying on your own! Strength comes when you reach out for help from others and when you realise you don’t have it sorted. Ok?
You are not sadly going to be able to do many of the things you hoped for this year coming. Those holidays to friends are sadly not going to happen and you will only see your family a handful of times too … and no hugs I am afraid. In fact, you should have taken shares out in Zoom as this will be the forum for the majority of your communication with the world for the foreseeable future.
This year is going to be one of learning new skills too, like editing videos, websites, podcasts, learning to work YouTube and going live on facebook! Every week! You can do it … and by the way you do do it so stop doubting yourself and your abilities.
Do you know you can actually do most of life from your house? It may not be your choice but it’s what you are going to have to learn to do. You will also start to take appreciation in the things we often take for granted such as grabbing a coffee with a friend, going out of your house, visiting Tesco (yes this will be added to the ‘fun things to do’ list) or going to the gym. There is a reminder here too that the things that bring you joy are not to be taken for granted and are often the small seemingly insignificant things that matter most.
You are going to also face some pretty dark days. Ones where you feel like giving up and that there will never be a day that feels ‘good’ again or where you feel happy and not anxious, terribly sad or discouraged . On those days remember that you are not alone, that there are friends and family members who love you and will help you through what feels like one of the hardest personal journeys you have ever been on.
This year you will feel like your voice doesn’t matter, that it is not valued or heard. You will question the very person you are, your callings and purpose in life. This is because you are going to be met with some pretty tough circumstances both in your leadership capacity as well as personally. Despite feeling this way, you will learn that actually in the very place of feeling ‘voiceless’ you are in fact learning to find your voice, that it matters and is always valuable even if others don’t always think that. It will be in the very middle of the mess of your life that you will learn that as you follow Jesus with your whole life he is very real and takes hold of your hand especially in the darkest places and leads you forward even when you can’t see the way. There is a way forward and he will bring you through.
Your life is not your own … and it is bought at a cost. What you do with it matters and each day is a gift. Live each day like it really matters … because it does. I know you know this but we don’t know how long we have here and what is around the corner. As a result, don’t live in fear not doing things because of others opinions or judgments but in the face of fear and in spite of it step out into the unknown trusting that your life has a purpose and meaning beyond what you can see. It is in the little things that make life worth living such as kind words, conversations with neighbours, making time for people and attending to what is in front of you. None of it is mistake or coincidence.
This year you are going to learn to be brave and face some of your biggest fears of rejection and disappointment in your life so far. Sometimes doing what is right doesn’t feel good and in fact can feel more painful and harder than ‘not doing what is right’. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. But, in facing your biggest fears … you find out that you will be ok even if they come to pass and that the journey through brings more light in the end then the one that tries to avoid the pain. You can only go as far as your character will let you – so gear up – it’s time to do some character expanding. Anything that becomes strong has to be tested, under pressure and guess what … the pressure is coming. However, you are going to find amazing support from family, friends and a good stint of counselling. So, I would start saving now. Importantly you learn that you are valuable, loved and important. Something you have found hard to believe underneath it all. Yup…that was still an issue.
Okay so something else to highlight here – self-care is a thing, and you need to learn it. You are not infinite and limitless. You might learn this the hard way and there are some helpful things coming that will aid you in this process. When the things in life that bring you rest are taken away how do you learn to be still? Who you are is way more important than what you do. Life keeps going and the world keeps spinning so…take some time out.
There is power in accepting your limitation too – it’s going to be the place where you learn that what you do contribute to those around you is good, it isn’t perfect and that’s okay. Sometimes your best is 50% and that’s just what it is. You will need to accept this. Quit trying to live life by others demands and expectations and value what your yes is and not what you cannot achieve. It will be the place where relationships deepen and importantly where you realise that your worth isn’t based on how much value you are to others but in fact in just who you are. You are more than enough. Stop apologising for who you are.
There are some amazing moments too – don’t worry it’s not all doom and gloom. You are going to start gardening … I know – it’s not the apocalypse but you actually choose on your own accord to dig some vegetable patches and even enjoy harvesting the produce (yes you heard me right … not everything dies that you plant).
You will be blessed with precious family moments of raving in your kitchen to 90’s trance anthems, Friday pizza night, smores round the fire, walks down the drive and tractor watching from the garden fence. As you are forced to slow down in many ways you have a chance to catch a glimpse of what is most precious. It is often what is right in front of you by the way.
So those are the highlights – remember you matter and kindness doesn’t cost anything.
Some words to help you through and words you will look to this year.
Isaiah 40:31But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.