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The following reflective posts (on social media) was by a young man who lost his wife because of a poor decision. Sadly, he saw a side of his in-laws that was not Christ-reflective. I thought I would turn the sentiments expressed into anecdotal thoughts and post on my blog, for who can’t relate to them in some way?

My world looks very different than it looked 12 months ago. It has been the hardest year of my life. As I have gone off course, repented, and struggled to navigate my way back to the Lord despite the obstacles, I have learned that this is an opportunity for growth. Growth isn’t necessarily linear–with every year measurably better than the last. Some years serve as setbacks, where going forward cannot happen without first falling backward. Growth is more like a dance, with dips and turns, hardships and failures. But those hardships offer opportunities for fresh starts. You don’t have to be defined by your mistakes; you can be defined by what you did with those mistakes. I am greater than my sins because Christ is greater, and I choose to walk in the confidence of His mercy & forgiveness than the shame of my past.

As 2021 comes to a close (don’t let the door hit you on the way out), I’m eager to begin 2022 with a new start. And a new start begins with growing from the past. 2021 taught me lessons I hope I never forget. Here are some that I’ve written down for myself:

1. There are two sides to every story. What is so obvious to people who think – is so infrequently remembered in difficult times. Sometimes “difficult times” are not required. There are always two sides! That does not mean both sides have equal weight or are on par with quality, but at the very least, there are two sides, and both need to be heard. Proverbs 18:13, 17

2. Most people don’t care to consider both sides (because the truth is not what’s important to them) but are eager to be like the TV reporter who wants to become part of the story. While I would not dispute this sentiment, it has been my observation that people align with the one they like more. it is truly the case that “most people” are this way? Perhaps, but whether that is so or not, many stay quiet without involvement, and just allow what others are saying to persuade.

3. You must not build your faith on other people. When the mountains move, all you have left is God. Is my relationship with Him ready to stand? This is far easier said than done. People gravitate to those with whom they connect. Yet, the wisdom of this sentiment is so obviously true. Who is the closest to you but your family members? Should they not know you better than others? They should, but as you lean on them (or anyone, for that matter), it’s not long before you, sometimes, realize they are leaning on nothing themselves and you both fall.

4. You’re not as strong as you think you are. One of the great self-deceptions is that which says, “I can do it!” or “I’m alright, I don’t need you to help me.” – when both may be a long way from the truth. Then why do people say things like this? Because, in part, the scarring a person experienced has no desire to be shared with another but a select few. The other day a sister asked me about a previous preacher, where he is at, how he is doing. I had nothing to offer, but what was being said by a few who had direct knowledge was that the brother fell hard. She could hardly understand it. “How can people who know so much Bible give up that which they taught others?” She asked. I said her that many don’t have the depth they hope to convince others they have. I also said that many go into ministry to try to fix their own struggles / problems.