Lessons from 2021

Today is the last day of 2021. Whilst I know that I will feel more or less the same tomorrow, the end of the year is always a trigger for reflection.

This year has been a big year for many reasons. Yes we shared the global experience of lockdowns & pandemics but this year was also personally significant.

It was the year that I started exploring what it would look like to work for God full-time through my internship, to serve and lead in new ways. The year we started to grow our little family. The year we had to lean into God’s grace even more through health challenges and periods of waiting. But throughout it all, this has been a year of learning and seeking.

So as we look towards 2022, here are three things that 2021 has taught me.

1. There is great beauty & peace in stillness.

This is a continuation of lessons I had learnt in 2020 in my year of rest but 2021 certainly reinforced this truth. Before starting my internship, my pastor told me that while I wanted to experience many different things it was equally important to schedule in times of stillness and reflection. So these moments of stillness weren’t forced by lockdowns (although that sometimes helped) but encouraged and prioritised.

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It was in these moments that God helped me to see how he has been working in and around my life. That he is bringing different things together to build a bigger picture. That the end of our story is already certain because of Jesus and so we can keep walking no matter what the path looks like.

It’s in the stillness that I can see my baby growing, kicking and stretching inside me. It’s here I can see the microexpressions on my baby niece’s face change as she takes in her surroundings. It’s where I remember that everything will be ok because God is and always will be in control.

He says, β€œBe still, and know that I am God;

Psalm 46:10

2. The antidote to losing control is surrender.

I know I am not alone when I say that in the past year I’ve been overwhelmed or anxious from losing control in at least one area of my life. But since we already lost so much control in 2020, how could 2021 teach us anything new?

As my husband likes to put it, ‘2021 felt like Covid groundhog day’. The more you tried to regain control, the more you were reminded of just how out of reach it was. But even in smaller ways, through interactions with people I’ve met through my internship, I’ve learnt that I can’t control or always predict how people will respond. Instead I’ve learnt there is a richness in surrendering to the situation; in taking it in rather than trying to mold it to meet my own expectations. That the antidote to losing control is surrender.

Surrendering to the process or situation isn’t a sign of defeat. Rather it is an acknowledgement that there is something bigger than my own fears and desires.

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3. I am more insignificant than I am comfortable with, and yet more significant than I can imagine

As part of my internship I’ve been meeting up weekly with my pastor and two other girls who are studying at bible college. We’ve been looking at the big picture of the bible, God’s continuous story to us. Through more time spent studying and reflecting on this, two truths have really struck me this year.

In the grand scheme of things, I am insignificant. It is so tempting to put myself in the centre of the universe. God does not need us nor is he dependent on us. As the creator of all things, he doesn’t owe me anything. It unsettles my selfish self and humbles me all at once.

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But the second truth is equally powerful. That despite our insignificance, God chose to love us first.

2021 has been a year where once again people are constantly being reduced to statistics – number of cases, hospitalisations, deaths. But for each of these numbers, God knows and loves them deeply. I have come to accept that I am more insignificant than I am comfortable with, and yet more significant than I can imagine.

There is a verse in the book of Psalms that describes how God formed us, knitting us together in our mother’s womb. The author writes ‘I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.’ (Ps 139:14a)

God knows me better than I know myself and continues to love me. It is this love that creates the beauty in the stillness and the hope in surrender.

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I have one more month left of my internship and approximately two months before we meet our baby. No doubt that 2022 will teach us countless new things. But until then, you’ll find me surrendering to the stillness in awe of God’s boundless love for us.

Wishing you all a safe and happy new year!

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