Goodbye 2016 and I’m saying hello to 2017 with enthusiasm, unceasing faith and full of hope. Fear and anxiety are enemies to conquer but our God is always the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He always reminds us to be fearless and to be joyful in every circumstance. So let’s celebrate new beginnings and new opportunities as we bear in mind the lessons 2016 taught us. I would share with you my top lessons learned and I would like to hear yours as well.
1. Don’t let anyone’s criticism and judgment define who you are. Find and embrace your true identity in Christ. This is really a life changing for me because as I wrote on my previous blog post On The Mind of a Self-proclaimed Ugly, I grew up hearing criticisms and negative judgment about me that influenced how I perceived myself. I am never embarrassed to say that I was battling with insecurity and low self-esteem because God helped me overcome it. We are not defined by the mistakes that we made in the past, the physical attributes that other people see us, the money we have in our pocket, the family we grew up with, the ailments that impede us, our weaknesses and failures. You are beautiful because God created you in His image. You are His masterpiece, the apple of His eye, dearly loved and blessed. Those things had no huge impact on me before because I was skeptic. I was conforming to the world’s definition of beauty. I was blinded by glamorous faces with false eye lashes and perfect curves in pretty skirt and high heels. I’m living in the world where people treat the wealthy with so much respect and adoration while the poor is maltreated and discriminated. In this modern times, people became obsessed with compliments by posting too much on social media to boost their ego by the praises they can get. I wasn’t happy. We are not born to please this world. I realized that we are not created to become pleasing in the sight of handsome men who will only break our hearts. We are created for God and let Him define our real identity.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. -Ephesians 2:10 NLT
2. God is real no matter what you feel. There were times when I felt like God was so far away that I couldn’t even feel Him. They say some Christians’ faith becomes so intense and the other day that heat subsides. So you always have to keep that fire burning by constantly reminding yourself about God’s promises. The truth is there are plenty of distractions that lure us away from His presence. The temporary enjoyment that feels like heaven. But always remember that heaven God has promised is not temporary. I love the song Your Promises by Elevation Worship. The chorus goes like this, Doesn’t matter what I feel, doesn’t matter what I see. My hope will always be in Your promises to me. Now I’m casting out all fear for Your love has set me free. My hope will always be in Your promises to me.
I have learned that my feelings and emotions are temporary. Sometimes I do forget to pray and to pause for a while in the midst of busyness and fatigue. Sometimes we feel that God is just an idea we flesh out in our mind to save us from the abyss of misery. We doubt His presence when problems kick in or we become oblivious to God’s existence when we feel that everything is perfect. The past year taught me that my feelings are short-term but God is eternal, infinite. He is as real as the air that you breathe which is unseen, as real as the rays of the sun that warms the earth which is intangible, as real as the empty holes in our hearts that long to be filled which is unnoticed. God is real.
3. Accepting each other’s differences is the start of learning to love others. I wrote When is a Time to Hate and a Time to Love? in my previous post after the time I was struggling to love others the way God expects us to do. I learned to accept that others might have points of view and reactions which are different from mine because everybody has his or her own share of personal experiences that molded us into who we are today. When someone contradicts me because he or she has dissimilar idea, instead of hating and bashing that person I must remind myself that he or she also has her or his own opinion that matters. He or she might sound illogical and ridiculous but God also loves him or her the way He loves you. It’s not as simple as that, I know, but I keep on learning.
4. Private life is a happy life. Yes, I still post on social media especially on Instagram but I choose carefully which to post. I realized that I became happier when I protect myself from gossips and judgments by others based on my social media posts. I learned the value of privacy when it comes to my relationship. When your personal life is on display, you’ll get defensive. When you post arguments that you had with your partner, you’re betraying him or her. We can’t trust everyone. Save ourselves from invaders because it’s not their business and value the relationship more by not seeking validation from the world but from God.
Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. -Proverbs 26:20 NIV