Think about how many lessons you've learned in your life. Thousands, I'd guess, from the benefits of obeying your mom or being kind to the downfalls of speeding or not studying for a test. Which ones were the "biggies" for you? The ones about love? Faith? Working out your own identity? Of course, we are all in process, learning lessons all the time. But today I'm sharing eleven big lessons I've learned in my life thus far, in chronological order. Not elaborating much, just an overview...an outline of the things God has taught me over the years.
5 yrs old - I learned God loves me.
I was little, but I knew it. I heard it at home and in church, and I believed. I asked Him to be in charge of my little life. I had a simple understanding that if I asked Him to, He would forgive me, guide me, and be with me forever.
17 years old - I learned God has a good plan for my life.
With encouragement from one of the youth leaders in the high school group at church, I decided to break up with my boyfriend who was not a believer, and who did not share my values. I took a leap of faith and was sure hoping God would notice. I lost friends through that choice, because I was honest about my reason. A couple months later, on Halloween, I took another leap by saying 'no' to a party I knew I ought not attend. I went to the church function instead, feeling pretty lame. That night, I met a different kind of guy. We've been married thirteen years.
20 years old - I learned God's plan isn't always what I want.
That guy and I had a painful break up. We were apart for a year, and I was bitterly hurting the whole time. Until I finally opened my white-knuckled fists and laid the relationship down. I took another leap and trusted God. It seems as soon as I let it go, He restored it.
22 years old - I learned that God has a crazy way of balancing me out.
And it's called marriage. When we first got married, I think we really believed we were the only ones who married their exact opposite. It was such a shock to realize that this was actually God's way of challenging me to grow and become less self-centered. I did think on occasion that God tricked me into picking that guy. :)
27 years old - I learned that God has a MUCH CRAZIER way of growing me.
And it's called motherhood. Whoa. Motherhood has at times made me feel like a disastrous failure more than anything I've ever experienced. Talk about a refining process. I was really thrown by how difficult it was/is to be a good mother. Now, nearly ten years in, it continues to be the most rewarding and yet most humbling job I've ever been given.
29 years old - I learned my husband makes a really bad God.
After about seven years of marriage, I was so disappointed that my husband wasn't better at meeting my every need. And then I learned he was never meant to. (But knowing that was only the tip of the iceberg. Keep reading.)
30 years old - I learned that God is bigger than I ever imagined and still really loves me.
I read the entire Bible cover to cover this year, using the One-Year Chronological Bible (see bookshelf on the sidebar) which sort of forces you to read it like a novel. It permanently changed my outlook on who God is. Start to finish, I saw that the Bible is one beautiful, exciting, suspenseful, and dramatic love story written by the most passionate and creative author to have ever lived.
32 years old - I learned that I am beautiful.
Reading the book Captivating by Staci and John Eldredge (also on the sidebar) also greatly impacted me. We were going through rough times in our marriage and God used this book to speak immense validation and worth into my broken feminine heart. He reminded me that He made me beautiful in so many ways, and that He delights in who I am. He is God of the universe, but also wants to have a relationship with us in such an intimate, personal way. I think every woman should read it.
33 years old - I learned that God is my husband (and that my husband is just a human).
The rough times were continuing on, and I was out of ideas. Out of strength, and out of words. I finally saw the whole iceberg. The love I so badly wanted was available to me; I was just looking for it in the wrong place. Life-changing. My greatest lessons were coming out of my greatest heartaches. I wrote about this season in detail here.
35 years old - I learned that my story is God's story.
I started blogging a year and a half ago with the intent to share with you bits of my journey. And all along, though my "voice" has morphed a bit, my passion has remained: I really believe that part of my story is in the sharing of it. And I believe that for you as well. Part of what God is doing in my life crisscrosses with someone else's story and what He is doing over there, like times a thousand. So many times, we've learned from each other because He orchestrates it to be so. All I can do is offer up the testimonies He's given me, and trust Him to make something of it. God does not waste my pain. He bottles every tear, and infuses words with power to give hope. And I'm so thankful that part of the way He redeems our pain is by using our stories for good.
36 years old (now) - I am learning that I have no concept of what God has in store for me, in heaven or on earth.
I underestimate Him all the time, and He continues to chuckle at me, as if to say, "You have no idea. You think THIS is a big deal? Just wait and see what I can do." This has been His regular message to me over the years, bringing the verses in Isaiah to mind over and again: "Behold! I am doing something new! Do you not see it?" And last January, He gave me the word "Look" as the watchword for the year, as if to say, "LOOK! Open your eyes to my work all around you." It's the same thing I'm learning now: I cannot conceive of what great things He has in store for me. But I'm excited to find out.
So now you know mine. What's one lesson you've learned that's changed your life?