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Words by VLB

Lessons from 2019

Hello there!

Wherever this post finds you, I hope your new year has been off to a sweet start. Personally, January refreshes the weary, worn-down parts of my soul. It’s as if the first few weeks of a new year allow me to dream again.

I had a busy end to my year, complete with a surprise visit to California, and I didn’t carve out much time for annual reflection. However, in the process of rebuilding my website, I stumbled across a post titled “Lessons from 2018.” Reading the words that I wrote about 2018 made my eyes well up with tears, because God really has done so much work in my life.

I know it’s been 2020 for a whole week, but I wanted to take a moment and reflect on what I’ve learned in the past year. It feels too sacred and precious to let these lessons go by. I pray these excerpts from my 2019 serve as an undeniable testimony to God’s provision, kindness, and nearness in all seasons.

2018 was defined by a claustrophobic tunnel of anxiety, people-pleasing, and pressure - but 2019 was the light at the end of that tunnel. Not to say this year was all bright and easy - but even in the midst of challenge, the heaviness that marked 2018 was gone. Which brings me to my first point…

  1. Healing is possible. I don’t think I really believed this til 2019. I thought my darkness was something I was born with, stuck to, and trapped under forever. But John 1:5 tells us “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” With the help of counseling, prayer, running, so many books, and trusted friends, the light started to win this year. It’s not that my circumstances lent themselves to a mind at peace. More times than not, my circumstances told me to fall back into old patterns of distress. But in 2019, I stopped listening to my situations and started listening to the One who is in charge. In 2019, I truly learned that God is taking care of me in every moment, empowering me to speak truth over the lies my brain tells me and providing the right tools to experience a life of abundant peace. Healing is attainable and possible for each and every person who admits they need help.

  2. Read for fun. After many nights of staying up too late, scrolling mindlessly though endless social media posts, I decided it was time for a new nighttime routine. 2019 was the year I took bedtime seriously, and with that, gained a new passion for reading. Instead of aimlessly browsing the internet before bed, I put my phone on the other side of the room and picked up a book. I learned more from the books I read this year than I ever imagined. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst taught me that it is okay to admit when our lives don’t look how we want them to. Afraid of All the Things by Scarlett Hiltibidal gave me powerful truths to combat my daily anxieties. Love-ology began my passion for John Mark Comer books. I Declare War by Levi Lusko empowered me to end to my self-defeating thoughts, and Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith entertained me through my wisdom teeth recovery. I’m currently reading You Are the Girl For the Job by Jess Connolly and Rhythms of Renewal by Rebekah Lyons, both of which I cannot recommend enough. I definitely did not spend every evening peacefully reading myself to sleep, but I am thankful for the many times I chose a book over my phone in 2019.

  3. You’re not exempt from needing rest. I convinced myself I was limitless for far too long. I spent the first half of my 2019 playing catch-up from a season of far too much hustle and hurry. I was stuck in an “overwork-burnout-crash-repeat” cycle, and I knew something had to change. The second half of 2019 was all about rebuilding patterns and shaping my schedule around the idea of “sustainability.” Slowing down is against my nature, but it’s helped me break free from the lie that my worth is based on my performance. In 2019, I finally admitted my limitations and stopped trying to be all things to all people. I handed over my burdens of productivity, pride, and people-pleasing over to the One whose “yolk is easy and burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). I began creating space for rest. I slept and went on walks and did more yoga. I lit candles and listened to podcasts and cooked meals on the stove. I finally learned that Jesus calls us to work from a place of rest, not work to earn rest. I still have a long way to go in the fight against hustle and hurry, but I want to encourage you that even the tiniest steps toward rest are worth it.

  4. Even the good gets better. 2019 was by no means “all good.” I fought challenging internal battles, I was often frustrated at my inability to let go of the past, and I messed up more times than I can count. This year, I was very aware of my propensity to fall short and my need to rely on something bigger than myself. But even in my lack, I was profoundly aware of God’s goodness in 2019. This year gave me a lot of relationships and situations and places that became much sweeter than I could have dreamed. Time after time, when I settled on something good, God showed me something better. He is just so generous like that - giving us more life and joy and fullness than we could ask or think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). 2019 made me believe that goodness is infinite - God always has more to give.

Thank you for reading just a glimpse of what God did in my 2019. I’m praying for more healing, more books before bed, real rest, and infinite celebration of His goodness in your 2020. The best is yet to come.

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