3 Essential Lessons I Learned in 2018

I'm not into New Year resolutions. Mainly because they set our human flesh up for disappointment and failure and I've pretty much got that covered for life. However, these last few years I've had a word. Not a goal, not a resolute, but a single word the Lord etched on my soul.

But, before I share my word, let me first reflect on 2018. Specifically, a few lessons He taught me (some of them the hard way):

Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.
— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
  1. The power of “choice.” This past year was one of my most challenging seasons at work in quite some time. It was lonely and filled with wrestling—mostly wrestling with myself and my own will, but uncomfortable nonetheless. During one of the darkest times, I was encouraged by a friend who reminded me who I chose to be: a compassionate and transparent leader. Coupled alongside that compassion and transparency came messiness. I chose to forfeit the transaction-based management style for a leadership approach hinging on value and purpose; and with that depth came untidy hearts (including my own). I was jolted when reminded about how I chose this path. I chose the road less traveled and all winding roads and scraped knees it entails. Once I learned to fully own my decisions and take responsibility for what I was experiencing, I was able to lay myself prostrate at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to work His will. Each day we have countless choices to make—many of which may seem trivial. Still, God wants us to listen and obey even in the smallest acts because it increases our sensitivity to the Spirit.

  2. Continual Conversations. I’m still learning how conversations with God are an ongoing discipline, not a single action. We’re not meant to pray and read our Bible; we are meant to continually talk with God Almighty, study His Word, and be the Bible to others. Paul would tell us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” In order to pray unceasingly, we have to talk with God and not to ourselves. Newsflash: I talk to myself all the time. Maybe not out loud, but I have a very active and creative mind and I “mind talk” the majority of my day. I recognize more and more how much those conversations with myself need to be transformed into an intentional discussion with God. This is why continual conversation is a discipline and it must be learned. It’s not natural to our flesh, but thank God that “what is impossible for man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

  3. Saying No…and Yes. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20). God is the only one who is on the hook for saying “yes” to all—and that’s why He’s divine and we are not. I learned this past year that it takes more courage to say no. I practiced saying no more, and I believe my family and I are better for it. I said no to:

    • [some] birthday parties (I still love your children even though mine will not be present),

    • getting on an airplane (for the 50th time),

    • letting the boys play multiple sports simultaneously,

    • and binging on Netflix.

Because of these nos, I could say yes to things like:

  • Sunday night dinners with family,

  • date nights with my hubby,

  • taking the boys to the park.

  • and writing and leading Bible studies for women.

I pray you will be still and allow the Lord to reveal to you a few teachings from this past year. You are a different person now (at least, you should be). You have grown (at least, you should have). What three essential lessons did He teach you in 2018?

I lived out my Here I Am phrase from 2018—not perfectly, but I progressed in pouring out my life as a living sacrifice. I learned to be more wise in my choices, to chit chat more with my Good Good Father, and to say no so I can give Him my best yes.

2019 will be a year of perspective. So often, I fail to put life into the viewpoint of Christ. I lose the foresight of eternity and I see the situation or conflict as all-consuming, instead of giving it to my “all consuming fire” God (Hebrews 12:29).

“Lord Jesus, help me to see your heavenly angle as I walk through this next year. Teach me to see with Your divine eyes. Every so often, You give me a nano-second glimpse of eternity. I know this world is a broken copy. C.S. Lewis penned it better than I: ‘Help me to keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.” Keep me above the snow and on course. Give me courage and a covering as I fix, fasten, and focus on You. Amen.”

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