Wow, in 2 months, my 20th year will be behind me, I will officially be a junior in college, and a whole new year of possibilities will be ahead of me! Reflecting on the past several months, so much change, struggle, joy, pain, and discovery has taken place. The following are just a handful of things I learned that touch on topics I plan on writing about in the near future.
This year with both my ups and downs, I am so in love with life, and grateful to be here striving to do whatever God asks of me. I hope some of what I learned is enlightening in some way!
1. I am capable of so much more than I realize.As time goes on, and as I follow God's will, and challenge myself to do as much as I can, I am realizing more and more how much we can accomplish if we just go for it. This year I have been given opportunities where I would juggle more than I'm used to and my limits would be tested. In November, I had my first wedding as a photographer in Wisconsin, and I was on my own without a partner. BIG responsibility! This experience taught me how I am capable of much more than I realize if I set my mind to something and work hard to succeed. We all have periods of time where we cut ourselves short, underestimate ourselves, doubt our abilities, don't do as much as we could. This could be for many reasons, fear, lack of priorities, lack of confidence, or simply laziness. Yet, this isn't what God calls us to! At that pace, by the time we stand before Him in judgment, will even half of what He wanted from us have been completed? God can do so much through us if only we let Him. This quote by Thomas Edison has never rung more true to me. "If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves."
2. Not everyone will like me, and that's okay.
Last summer and throughout the school year this lesson was contemplated every now and then, and just recently it really hit me hard. I've never been much of a people pleaser, but if someone who I thought liked me as a person and was my friend begins to be neither with no explanation, it does take a stab at me. It doesn't happen often, so each time I learn something new. This year, I learned to accept it more and not dwell on it - much against my nature! I want to fix things, find solutions, and to love and be loved. However, it can't always be that way. You can't force friendship, it is a special gift of self in which the receiver has to choose whether to accept or decline. When it is occasionally declined, even when you thought it was accepted, it's best to let it go as quickly as possible and be kind. Not everyone will want you in their life, not everyone will like you, but that is okay.
3. Always be gracious, especially when it's hardest to be.
I plan on writing a post on this topic, but I wanted to include it in my list because in February, I had never been so tested in my ability to be gracious toward others who had hurt me. I learned just how much strength being gracious takes, how much we rely on God to direct our behavior. We can talk the talk, but walking the walk is a whole other ball game! Putting my beliefs into personal action was too draining to try and handle on my own, and those are the moments in life we need to give God our problems. Being gracious doesn't just mean being courteous, kind, and pleasant. In the dictionary, it's also defined as, showing divine grace. Throughout the bible Christians are called to practice graciousness, one example is Colossians 4:6, "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." In different experiences, I have learned just how difficult this can be, but also just how important as well. We have to choose if we are going to respond to those who hurt us the way the world and our vices want us to, or how God wants us to.
"Many great things depend — don't forget it — on whether you and I live our lives as God wants."
- St. Josemaria Escriva The Way, 755
4. God can only form you outside your comfort-zone.
God cannot mold us, transform us, and form us into who He created us to be if we hide away, never challenge ourselves, never take risks, or avoid whatever makes us nervous or uncomfortable. How can we become who God wants us to be and fulfill our purpose if we never face and overcome our fears? The past several months I learned just how much of what I'm called to do is on the other side of fear. Yes, it's scary. Very scary! But throughout my 20th year I've been learning how much lies on the other side of my comfort-zone, and how much more God can work in my life when I'm not afraid to cross it. I also learned how sometimes I'm not going to like it even after I cross that line. What I want isn't always the right thing, what I want usually isn't what God wants. He gives me what I need, and the more I let Him form me, the more I will want what I need.
"Whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want."
Con amore in Cristo,