I packed up my bags and left the States to spend the holidays with my family in Canada last month. Best idea ever. Well, it was my mom’s. She was half-serious but I took it and ran with it. She knew I needed to get away and I did, too. So I’m here with my siblings and we are living the LIFE. Lots of laughs, lots of outings and yes, lots of end of the year reflection. Soul-baring, really.
It’s necessary, isn’t it? To recount all the amazing (and not-so amazing) things that have happened in the course of the year and to also sit back and write out what you’ve learned.
And so, that’s why I’m here. I figured to incorporate my favorite looks of this year with those lessons I’ve learned because why not? When you click the photo, you’ll be directed to the exact time it was initially post and all the inspo!
It’s been a challenging year. I wish I could come up with another word that could perfectly describe it but that’ll suffice for now. I felt like it was great because I had so many great things happening but I also experience things that shattered me to my core. I thought 2016 was tough?! Pshh. 2017 was a battlefield. However, it’s only now that I’ve really began to come to understand the meaning of “The battle is not yours; it’s the Lord’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15).
In this end of the year reflection, you’ll find the 7 lessons I learned in 2017 and the ways in which God taught me.
I pride myself on being a great listener. It brings me sincere joy to be there for people, to hear them out and to impart whatever I can…even if it’s just an ear. In 2017, I learned I was making time to be there to listen to the concerns of others and not fully hear out God. I mean this in two ways.
(1) I wasn’t spending enough quiet time with Him. I’m learning to pour out my thoughts on a page, my tears in my prayer and my trust in Him. My parents always taught me to be in constant communication with God and so I made sure I was, no matter where I was. And now, God is requiring more of me. He wants to see if I hear Him.Learn to put your thoughts on a page, your tears in prayer and your trust in God. Click To Tweet
(2) And He also wants to see if I CHOOSE to hear Him. Has God ever told you to do something? For years, you try bargaining with Him because quite simply, you couldn’t see yourself doing what He asked. You couldn’t envision your life without the very thing He was asking YOU to have. Yes, He asked you. So you bargain and then His demands turns into your dismissal or you simply don’t bring it up anymore. After awhile, He allows you to have it your way. He lets you do you just so you could see the very reason why He said what He said. And at that point, you’re broken. You’re now hurt…you realize it would’ve still hurt before but because you allowed it to keep going, you feel the brunt of it all on the fiercest level. If only you had listened. And though you now know you should’ve listened, you need to know…
2. God isn’t trying to hurt you.
He isn’t a petty, payback God. Man, I’m still trying to get this one through my head. It’s easy to believe that because we were “bad,” we now have to be punished. But hey: disobedience doesn’t equate to damnation when you sincerely repent. 2017 was the year of the shooketh for me. One after the other, the most bewildering things would happen and I would often find that I pictured God was pleased with the fact that I was hurting. I saw Him as distant. I knew He cared but I thought maybe…not that much. He wasn’t being close to the broken hearted as He said (Psalm 34:18). To me, He had this stance: “Well, Tarah. I said what I said and now you’re just going to have go through this” with a pat on my head as He frolics off, leaving me to deal with the mess. But that is exactly what the enemy wants us to think. He wants us to believe the God of Final Judgement isn’t the same God that will forgive you RIGHT NOW. He wants us to believe God isn’t invested to every little issue we have. Little do we know, God’s heart BREAKS when He sees us in pain. He’s not a tit for tat God. He is not roughening you up through tough love. He CARES. And He is not trying to hurt you! He wants to HOLD YOU.Satan wants us to believe the God of Final Judgement isn't the same God that will forgive you RIGHT NOW. Click To Tweet Satan wants us to believe God isn't invested to every little issue we have. Little do we know, God's heart BREAKS when He sees us in pain. Click To Tweet God is not trying to hurt you; God wants to HOLD YOU. Click To Tweet
3. Preparation isn’t light work.
Life isn’t as it seems on so many levels. I mentioned how the most bewildering things happened to me back to back. Well, at one point, it almost made me feel like I shouldn’t get my hopes up because something was bound to go wrong. Quite frankly, I don’t know why you go through what you go through…or why I do. I do know all things work together for those who love the Father (Romans 8:28), but now I’m learning to believe it. I hate hearing “everything happens for a reason” as if the statement is the cure to all problems but I’ll say it in this way: God is preparing you. Those unanswered prayers you now find yourself reciting, those late nights with tear soaked pillows, those days you didn’t have the strength to get out of bed for, those cancelled plans you had to sacrifice to work on your vision, the pain derived from betrayal of a loved one, the ending of a relationship — all of it — He sees all of it and you will be better because of all of it. God is getting you ready for something. You are in the fire right now but soon the rain will come.God is getting you ready for something. You are in the fire right now but soon the rain will come. Click To Tweet
4. Go hard for YOURSELF.
Ya’ll. People blew my MIND this year. Like, some of those I trusted the absolute most. I had so many wake up calls in regards to them — literally blow after blow, leaving me beyond shocked. I know my worth and I also have a very forgiving heart so while that means I can love the offender, I know when someone has to go. It’s numbing, really. But I’ve learned to feel the pain and to not sit in it. Don’t make a nest in your numbness. The enemy will use anything he can to get you and keep you down. Show the WORLD that your money-making moves does not end because of drama you did not deserve. Live your best life! You deserve that. And love and happiness and honest people surrounding you. And if you’re single honey, do me a favor please and continue to be your same BAD SELF. Remain loyal to the One who never deceived you. Dress up for yourself, meet someone new, get to WERK, stay in ministry. It will pay off. You’ll see. I know I will. Your story and your drive will speak to people you didn’t even know you could reach.Don't make a nest in your numbness. Click To Tweet Show the WORLD that your money-making moves does not end because of drama you did not deserve. Click To Tweet
5. Servitude will bring about gratitude.
I’ve been learning to say “thank you, God” for the hardships and even for things that seem meaningless. And then this year, I had the experience to really serve people who had nothing. It’s a crazy story, honestly. During church announcements one Sunday, my pastor announced that He was looking for someone to go on the missions trip to the Dominican Republic this year. Everything was paid for. My eyes immediately lit up as my sister encouraged me to go. I texted my pastor and by the end of service, he announced to the congregation that I’d be attending and how God answered His prayers because He truly wanted a youth to go. Mind you, this spot opened up “out of nowhere” and only a few weeks before the trip! A few days later, I picked up my phone and saw my screen was on Pinterest — an app I don’t even use. And get this, there was a pin that commanded my total attention. It said:
Seeing it made me tear up immediately. Like wow God, you’d go through these great lengths just to get my attention? You want my hurt because you want my heart?! My heart bursted with gratefulness for His love and for the opportunity to leave the comfort of my home to do get down and dirty to serve others in a different capacity. (I made two YouTube videos about my experience here and here.)God wants your hurt because He wants your heart. Click To Tweet
6. God’s timing is way better than mine.
God has been shoving this one in my face! In 2016, I was feeling like a loser because I graduated top of my class, interned at 4 places, shadowed at the biggest networks, and made the right connections and still did not have the job I wanted. I had jobs, yes… but they weren’t what I worked so diligently for. God led me to meet the editor in chief of Teen Vogue not once but twice in 2016 and I had coffee with her at the office in 2017. Those encounters didn’t even lead directly to a job, however, it simply wasn’t the time. Fast forward a couple months later, I sit down with the fashion editor and next thing you know, I am a fashion contributor for Teen Vogue!!! Let Him order your steps, people!!! I’m learning to trust in His timing with the other aspects of my life, too. It’s so hard. I’m a planner and I also just like having an idea of what to expect but God is telling me to chill and let Him orchestrate all of the details. He’s super clutch. Time isn’t a thang to Him. He’s in control! Our waiting season may seem endless but it isn’t hopeless because God is ironing out the details. We say a lot can happen in a year, but with God a lot can happen in a millisecond.Our waiting season may seem endless but it isn't hopeless because God is ironing out the details. Click To Tweet We say a lot can happen in a year, but with God a lot can happen in a millisecond. Click To Tweet
7. Give it all to God.
Christ wants complete surrenderance but a lot of times, we solely give him some. I’ve come to the realization that I don’t fully trust God. I believe in Him and what He can do, but sometimes, I don’t necessarily believe He’ll come through for me. Why else would it be so hard to give Him the very thing I was clutching onto? I didn’t trust He would give it back or give me something better. Remember that Instagram meme of the child holding a small teddybear? “God” is gesturing at him to gently take it away. Behind God’s back is an even bigger teddybear, but the child would never know the small teddybear was going to be replaced in a remarkable way unless he took the chance and trusted God. Aren’t we like that child? Trust issues and all? You may feel as if God has broken your heart with expectations you had. However, if we really believe that every little detail is according to God’s plan (Jeremiah 29:11), we would know that what we think we “lack” is actually a provision in disguise. Man may let you down but God won’t. Can you trust God with what you love the most? Will you allow Him to take it away despite not knowing what you’ll get in the end?
Despite 2017 flying unbelievably fast, the lessons learned took their t i m e. I’ve grown a ridiculous amount in the past months and feel incredibly invigorated looking forward to greater things God will be doing in 2018! May His will be done!
RELATED – Check out last year’s post: Year of Revelation!