16 lessons from 2016

It feels like an understatement to say that it has been a rough year. I hallucinated this creature every now and then from April to October. When I wasn’t hallucinating, I was worried that I would. My panic attacks got worse because I stopped internalizing them and decided to face them head on. My depression was worse this year. Despite everything bad that happened this year, it’s been a good year. I went on a family vacation, on a mission trip, and to a Christian conference. I made new friends and became closer with old ones. I learned a lot about myself and about trusting others. I finally started seeing a counselor. So, 2016 has been a really hard year, but it has also been a really great year.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, 16 lessons from 2016:

  1. God uses those who are willing and not just those who are the most qualified. I didn’t have to be a construction worker to go a a mission trip. I wasn’t a pro, but I got the job done.
  2. God enables those who are willing to serve Him to complete the tasks He gives. I never thought I would be leading a Bible study or writing a blog or going on a mission trip this year, but He called me to these things and gives the strength for the completion of the task.
  3. I won’t always be able to feel God, but that’s okay. Maybe we only feel God when we need to the most. If we felt Him all the time, we would probably lose the awe and wonder that comes when we can feel His presence.
  4. I don’t need to know all the answers. I don’t know always know why God allows His children to hurt. This year, I have been trying to remind myself that He has a plan and a purpose for suffering.
  5. Suffering teaches us how beautiful God’s blessings are. We need the dark to appreciate the importance of light. Maybe we need suffering to appreciate the beauty in friendship, laughter, and all of His many blessings.
  6. God works on His clock. Sometimes, a 1.5-hour worship session needs to last about 3 hours for God’s work to be accomplished. We need to be willing to adjust our schedules to work around His timing.
  7. I don’t spend enough time with God. I have started something where I pray at the end of the day without looking at the time. I need to do this more often, because it feels pretty awesome, just spending sometimes almost 2 hours with God.
  8. God never leaves. He is always there. Looking back on this year, I can see the times when God worked. He worked in times that I wasn’t even confident if He was there.
  9. The God of today is the same as the God of the Bible. If you had asked me if I believed this truth earlier this year, I would’ve said that I did. But deep down, I didn’t live like I believed it – until a few months ago.
  10. God still works miracles all the time, but it doesn’t mean He will. Sometimes, He does allow death and suffering, but sometimes He heals and works miracles. I used to have fibromyalgia but God healed that over the course of about 24 hours.
  11. It’s ok to miss someone. I still miss someone who died over a year ago, and that’s ok, as long as I move on and continue living my life.
  12. Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. To be honest, I think my anxiety has saved me from making a lot of bad decisions that I was afraid to make at the time. I later realized that the decision was not a good one.
  13. It’s really important that close friends know about panic attacks and other psychological stuff. I don’t mean just like your one best friend, but anyone that you consider a close friend. If you actually think you can’t tell them, they might not be a good person to have as a close friend.
  14. When you don’t tell close friends about personal things, it hurts both you and them. It hurts you because they can’t help you. It hurts them because a good friend would wonder why you didn’t tell them if they found out later (and they often do) and would want to support you.
  15. “Sorry” means nothing without action. One word can’t take back what I said or did. Saying sorry and meaning it is one step, but it means nothing if the same thing happens again and again and again.
  16. I only have one shot at life, and I don’t want to waste it. I have one shot. No day will come again. I need to enjoy the day I have been given, panic attacks and all, because there is beauty in life that I’ll miss if I focus on the anxiety and heartache.

why i know God exists

I know God exists. He is real, and He is living and breathing. I can’t prove it to you. But you also can’t prove to me that He doesn’t exist. Let me explain. I could say things like He has changed my life, I have had way to many “coincidences” to keep believing that they are coincidences, etc., etc., etc. And you could say things like God wouldn’t allow so many bad things happen, those coincidences are actually coincidences, I am insane for thinking a supernatural being changed my life, etc., etc., etc. Yes, there is no solid evidence for His existence. But there is no solid evidence that He doesn’t exist either. And that’s where faith comes in. Faith comes in when there is no solid evidence. Faith is believing in something to the extent that it becomes real for you.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).

When there is no evidence, faith becomes the evidence. I chose to believe that God exists, and I see everything in the light that He exists. When a friend intersected my path at the right moment, preventing me from doing things I would regret forever, I thanked God for that and credited it to God. Someone who didn’t believe in God might just say that it was a lucky coincidence. What you believe changes the way you see things. What you believe becomes your reality, because you see the world in light of that.

Take a minute to read this excerpt from C.S. Lewis. It’s a long quote but it’s really good.

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such a violent reaction against it?… Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too–for the argument depended on saying the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus, in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist – in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality – namely my idea of justice – was full of sense. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never have known it was dark. Dark would be without meaning (bold added for emphasis).

We know that there is evil in the world because we know that something exists that is better than that. That is how I know God exists. I know there is evil in the world but I know there is also something better than that. Take some time to think about this one from Lecrae:

If I’m wrong about God then I’ve wasted my life. If you’re wrong about God then you’ve wasted your eternity.

What you believe becomes your reality, to an extent. God exists, whether you believe that or not. Without a loving God, we wouldn’t understand why rejection hurts so much. But whether or not you believe does have its consequences. If you believe Jesus died and saved you from your sins, then His sacrifice will cover the punishment for your sin. But if you choose not to believe in God, then you will suffer the consequences.

I have chosen to risk it all for God, because I believe that He lives and breathes and will never let me go. And I also believe that I would rather waste my life living for someone who doesn’t exist than have to suffer for eternity because I ignored the existence of God.

welcome

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.  Matthew 5:6

You’re here for a reason. You probably didn’t just stumble across this blog post by accident. And even if you did, there is a reason why you’re reading it. Maybe you’re just bored, or trying to waste some time, or giving yourself an excuse to procrastinate. Maybe you’re here because you’re where I’m at – lost. But lost is a state of being that’s not permanent. I may be lost, I may feel like I am stumbling around in the dark, but I know my destination. Light. Light is my destination, it is the one thing I seek, it is the one thing my soul needs. I am desperately broken and hopeless and without the light I would be forever stumbling in the dark.

I have anxiety. Anxiety is like being lost in the dark. Anxiety is feeling trapped in a darkness so deep that there is no way out. Anxiety is like seeing that spark of light off in the distance and wanting it but not having the strength to chase after it. Anxiety is fighting every single day to simply live and breathe.

So, why this blog?

I want you to know that you are never alone, no matter what. God is always there; He is a constant when your anxiety causes roller coasters of emotions. Jesus is everything you need, and even when it gets hard, He is still there. He is always there.