Wednesday, February 3, 2016

10 Things I learned in 2015

While I don't want to spend too much time dwelling on the past year, I do feel the need to write and express the things that stood out to me. It was A. Crazy. Year. But I think we can all agree that when we walk through valleys we come out the other side full of new experiences, perspectives, and wisdom. So straight to it, the top ten things I learned in this valley of 2015:

10. I'm not defined by my body or appearance. 
Take a young, semi-confident woman, shave her bald and cut off her boobs and you'll watch her confidence go with her hair. This was a hard lesson to learn this year! I didn't realize how vain I was or how much thought I put into my appearance until my appearance was taken from me. Sure, my hair is growing back, and I will have reconstruction hopefully in the next month, but I have a lot of scars, and I can tell physically that I'll just never be the same. Thank goodness there is more to me than my body and the way that I look! I still love taking care of myself and wearing make up and being a woman, but I no longer stress about the way my body looks in clothes or if my hair is having a crazy day. Walk it off. You're bigger than that.

9. I'm stronger than I thought.
I'm not giving myself credit here, because as I've already said, it was the Lord and my friends and family who pulled me through this past year. BUT, the mental game is huge, especially when fighting cancer, and it turns out my mental game is strong. Well, either strong or stubborn. Maybe a healthy dose of both.

8. Life in community is better than life alone.
I can't stress this enough, and yet it also seems I can't drill this into my strong stubborn mind either. Just this past week we had to start a new small group at church, all new people starting over with all new stories and I didn't want to go! Mark practically had to drag me. Even though our past small groups have been the bomb and so worth it, I just wanted to stay home. But really....I've learned my lesson. I know life in community is better. It's how God created us. Even if I don't want to admit it and sometimes I end up rocking in the fetal position in the corner from social overload.

7. We can all relate to heartache.
Pain is pain, and grief is grief, no matter the form it comes in. Whether it's a miscarriage, depression, the death of a friend or family member, an emotional wound, a divorce, or a cancer diagnosis, it all hurts, and every hurt counts. Your hurt might not be the same as mine, but it matters just as much, and we can lean on each other and carry each other through all the different circumstances that make our hearts ache.

6. My time is more valuable than I realized.
The mom, wife, homemaker job isn't exactly high paying. In fact, I earn approximately zero dollars taking care of my kids, husband and house. Rewarding? YES. But I don't get a lot of praise for it and sometimes I wonder how valuable I actually am at home. This past year I realized how much I actually do, and I think my husband and kids realized it too. At one particular meeting I was having with my friend Libby, while we were coordinating all the meals and childcare and cleaning for the week, she said to me, "look at all these different people we are having to get just to do your job." When I saw that it took 10 people to fill in for one mom (me), it made me feel pretty good. There is a lot that goes on unseen and isn't always appreciated, but now I see how much value is in it and how much would go undone if I didn't do it.

5. I really really enjoy writing.
I've always enjoyed blogging, and I've kept a journal pretty much my whole life. But I never thought I had anything important to say publicly. This year blogging and journaling became such a necessary outlet for me that I realized how much I really enjoy writing. I hope this can be a starting point for something more. Whatever that may look like, I know that I want to write more and make time for it in my life.

4. No one is immune to suffering.
I used to think that because x, y, z happened to me, then nothing else would. And since I did x, y, z, then my life wouldn't necessarily be perfect, but it would probably be free of major heartache and difficulty. HA! That's hilarious and so stupid and illogical. But I admit, deep down, it's what I thought. The suffering I have experienced in my life is a teeny tiny blip on the radar compared to a lot of people, and I know that. But I used to think that since my parents divorced when I was young and I had miscarriages and didn't have a perfect life, then I was immune to something major. I thought I already experienced my "something major" so I'm good now. Unfortunately, the world doesn't keep tabs on what's happened to you in the past, and life is hard sometimes. It might be easy for a while, and I pray it is, but just because I've had cancer now doesn't mean the rest of my life will be a cakewalk. Although I'll certainly take it if it is.

3. I have rockstar friends.
I mean, its ridiculous you guys. I can't even explain. I tried to, in that one post, but that wasn't even the tip of the iceberg. There were so many people I didn't mention who gave selflessly of themselves, of their time, money, and resources just for our little family. It's so humbling. And my closest friends are the best ones there are. Like, seriously. I feel sorry for you that they are my friends and not your friends because they really are the best. But not that sorry because they're mine.

2. I have a rockstar husband.
I already knew he was a gem. But this past year proved it even more. He officially upped his status to rockstar. All of the unseen things that he did for me and for our family, without appreciation, and most of the time with me whining/crying about something. He was such a faithful servant to all of us and I hope I can spend the rest of my life making it up to him.

1. God is always faithful, and He can be trusted.
This was a hard lesson to learn. Because of COURSE God is faithful, but as I wrote about in another post, just because I trust him, doesn't mean I'm going to get what I want. And that's a hard thing to accept. I'll be honest, this is something I am still working out with my Heavenly Father and something that continues to be woven into my everyday battle. Trusting in Him, relinquishing my plans, submitting to His. And while this past year certainly gave me a shove in the right direction, unclenching my hands to His will for my life has to be done every single morning.

Looking forward to 2016 and all the learning and living and loving He has planned.

"Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and will not fear. You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning. And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security." - Job 11:15-18

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