Hard to believe that Christmas and time at home have come and gone. I had anticipated it for so long and it went by so quickly. I was definitely in need of a refresher and time at home proved to be exactly what I was hoping for. I don’t think I had one day to just sit and relax, but I was so happy to see family, friends and the sweet familiarity of small-town life. It made me very excited and hopeful for the future.
As we are now at the beginnings of a new year, it is the “norm” to reflect upon the last year and make goals for the new one. I think this may be the first year I am deciding to not focus my energy on a diet/exercise plan, which I know won’t last more than 3 days, but to set my eyes on more internal pursuits. Before I get to my resolutions for the New Year, I want to share just a few experiences and reflections from 2011.
- This time last year, I was counting down the weeks until my 8-day mission trip to San Ignacio, Honduras. During this time and the weeks prior, I had been praying that God would direct my next move. I didn’t know if I should stay in Charlotte or move home, but I could feel God preparing me for something greater. Looking back a year later, I can’t believe that I am now living in Honduras. Over this past year, I have been able to see how big our God really is.
- I went from having a decent paying job to a job where I depend on the hearts and donations of others. This has been a challenge. However, it was a lesson and an experience that I know God wanted me to have. Financially, I could be very selfish and materialistic. God has opened my eyes to greater needs than having the latest fashion trend and what it really means to rely on him.
- I have realized how truly blessed I am to have the friends and family I do. They are a constant encouragement and support – my prayer warriors. This is one perfect example of life’s greatest treasures that money cannot buy.
- Unfortunately, I have come to realize what an evil monster judgment can be. I have experienced anger, hurt, confusion and judgment from others and in my own thoughts that have broken my spirits. I have learned to not expect so much from other people, rather to expect from God. He is the only one that will always meet and exceed our expectations. He never forsakes us or lets us down.
- People are not always going to like you. I have lived the majority of my life working to please others and gain their approval. You and I can’t do this. Know who you are and be proud of that. God made you the way you are and He makes no mistakes. Take the negativity from others and allow it to grow and strengthen you. My mom always told me that the only person you have to answer for at the end of your life is yourself and no one else.
- You do not have to move to a foreign country to be a missionary. At every place in this world, people are hurting. God calls us to love and we can do that every minute of every day. Be a missionary.
- Step out of your comfort zone. We cannot and will not grow if we remain complacent. I know it can be scary and uncertain but I believe that if we follow God’s call and we strive to work and love in His name, He will guide and protect our paths. Do not do yourself an injustice by living “safe” and “comfortable.” Christ sure didn’t choose that path.
- Lastly, be thankful. Be thankful you woke up this morning and are blessed to live in a place where you have everything you need. I think I am correct in saying that you have a warm home, food in your cabinets, a car to drive, money to buy the items you need, clothes to keep you warm, freedom to believe as you choose and many other comforts of life in the United States. And even as extras, many of us have the latest technological items, expensive accessories, the opportunity to take vacations and many other luxuries. Until I visited and then moved to a third world country, I did not realize how much I had to be thankful for. Daily, I see severe poverty, hunger, filth and hurt that I never saw at home. Please do not take this as discounting the hurt and struggles of many in the United States; however, I think we are all guilty of putting our blinders up and refusing to see the needs around us. We (myself included) get so comfortable in the “easiness” of our lives and we forget to notice the hardships of others. We see the newest trend and our now older version isn’t good enough. We decide to donate an old coat to someone in need and then go by ourselves a brand new coat. Why is that we didn’t buy the person in need the new coat? There is more to be done than just donating at Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is more to be done than volunteering twice a year. There is more to be done than saying a prayer. Faith without action is dead. We see the needs and our hearts break, but do we really do everything we can to see that it is changed?
Resolutions. Goals. Hopes. While all of us have probably considered a diet or new exercise routine, let’s choose an internal makeover instead. For 2012, I choose to open my eyes and my heart. I want to love in a more Christ-like way. I want to be eager to sincerely forgive and see others the way Christ sees them. I want to find the place where the needs of others are more important to me than my own needs (or should I say wants). Above all, I choose to glorify God instead of myself. I am the body that God has simply chosen to do the physical work, but God is the moving force inside of and behind me. Our accomplishments our not our own; praises and glory be to God and what HE can do in this New Year!