It’s often said that we learn more from our mistakes and trials than our successes. This year I’ve experienced how this is true.
I wanted to share the lessons I’ve learned in the hope they might encourage someone else going through a difficult time. While I know sadly these lessons are often only learned through experience, it is the greatest desire of my heart that we may know and give real love, and live in it. While we live in a broken world pain will always be with us, but there is so much better for us – for you.
These are the lessons I’ve learned:
1. Love is a verb, and there is nothing better.
2. God is good, always. He will never stop pursuing you to make sure you know how much you are loved. If you believe people are always good (including yourself), you will be disappointed. Yet, while we all fall short of His goodness, we see the best people when we love like He has loved us.
3. Life is like the wind – it can change direction at any time, and is subject to forces beyond the eye can see. While we can plan our ways, it’s God who determines our path. Our own plans are futile unless they are in line with the wind, and they are the absolute best when they are. The best way to live is to let go, and trust.
4. Timing is everything. Much like the wind, it’s out of our control.
5. There is always hope. Make sure you know where your hope lies. Even in the darkest of times when all hope seems to be gone, the hope God provides is the one thing that will always remain.
6. There is no greater gift you can give someone than unconditionally loving them, especially at their worst. It is certainly true you realize who your true friends are in difficult times. Be eternally grateful for friends, family and colleagues who love like this, and commit to being this for others.
7. Work is good, but it’s people that matter most. If your work is focused on loving people, then you’re in the best kind of work.
8. Some people will betray you. The hardest part of betrayal is that by very nature it comes from someone close. Just walk away and remember that it has nothing to do with you, and most people won’t be this cruel. Most importantly, don’t let this hold you back from opening up to, and trusting, others who are trustworthy.
9. Grieve when something precious is lost. Don’t hold back, but don’t let it take over your ability to move forward when it’s time.
10. Hard times will come. They will change you. While some may say you’ll be stronger as a result, that might not be the case (and you certainly won’t feel it as you’re healing!). They could leave you more broken than before. However, being real, not strong, is what’s important, and hard times will always reveal a healthy dose of reality. This is what leads to the ability to truly love and be loved. And in the end, that’s all that really matters.
11. Time doesn’t heal, God does.
12. If you still hurt beyond when you or others think you should be healed, that’s ok. Take as long as you need. Some people won’t understand, even if they want to. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you, just that they haven’t walked where you are. That’s ok too, they are on their own journey.
13. Sometimes you will make mistakes; consciously or unconsciously. Either way, admit to them and their consequences. Learn from them. Commit to never doing them again. While God always forgives, He ultimately only wants the best for us. He loves us too much to leave us the way we are, and when we make mistakes, it’s a clear indication something needs to change.
14. NYC is beautiful in the fall.
15. Don’t fall in love until you’re ready and comfortable in yourself to share all of yourself. This is particularly difficult if you’ve been hurt before. However, only when you’re ready to be vulnerable can depth of relationship have the chance to be forged. Taking the risk to give them the opportunity to see and love the real you, is worth more than the fear of loosing them because you’re only able to share the non-broken parts of you. If one of you can’t do this, you’re not ready to be in love yet, and if you truly love them they deserve so much more.
16. Everyone can choose to walk away. Love them by letting them.
17. Listening to music as you walk down the street ads a soundtrack to your life; choose the music wisely and make it a good!
18. Travel. There’s a wide, beautiful, amazing world out there. Walk the Camino De Santiago at least once in your life (preferably more than once!).
19. Forgiveness isn’t easy. It doesn’t take away the pain, and it doesn’t mean it’s deserved. Some will say to forgive because it helps you move forward yourself. While there is truth in that, it’s not true forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift, a selfless act of love that is given, not something that is done to receive. The only place I have found truth in forgiveness is through a deeper revelation of how God loves us: unconditionally and undeserved. When I understood this I saw how God wants freedom in forgiveness for everyone; even those who have caused us and others pain. That’s why we forgive; because we were first forgiven. How? Not in our own strength, but by seeing those who’ve hurt us through God’s eyes: with His unconditional and abundant love.
20. If at the end of a hard year you more honestly love and are loved than at the beginning, it hasn’t just been a hard year – it’s been a very good year.