3 Things I’m Taking with Me from 2017

in at December 19, 2017

One glorious breakthrough after another, 2017 is a year of relentless, God-ordained humbling (and heartbreak, if I may truthfully say so). Some days were lusterless and devoid of hope while others were painstakingly designed by the Creator – to reveal Himself to me, or through me. I cannot ask for anything better for I’ve learned to surrender, though slowly, every part of my life to His faithful hands. I see everything as an overflow of grace – no mistake, no lack.

This is why I write: to bring me peace. I’ve had the most humiliating conversations with God, which required me to acknowledge long-forgotten wounds. And, it tells me, they’re here and have become part of me. But my God, my God has brought me so far; through Him, I can heal. And someday, when I read these words, I will have nothing but gratitude in my heart.

My bold prayer: may I faithfully live these truths out every day of my life.

Deal with your (emotional) baggage.

God restored a number of relationships this year. For the courage to speak out and the humility to admit my wrongs, I am thankful. Grace, you meet me exactly where I am.

My dear ladies, as early as now – especially if you’re single – please do yourself a favor, and *deal* with your emotional baggage. Allow God to heal you. This liberates you from fear you will eventually project to your partner and unhealthy expectations you will keep yearning for (e.g. that he will fix this for you). Chains of shame will never be broken if you keep hardening your heart. Though you are walking with the Lord and seeking Him, you can’t hear His voice with deafening clarity if you keep tuning it out – filtering only what is convenient for you. You cannot expect God to be God – just, sovereign, and all-knowing – if He can only have a portion.

But friends, let me tell you something. Pour your heart out to Him, cry it out. If you feel the need to respond to your emotions, pray about it first, and let some time pass. Direct His loving hands to the weary parts of you. Direct Him to your insecurities. Resolving ties, regardless of who was wronged (more), is a step towards unyielding growth. Sometimes, it means valuing a relationship more than your pride; other times, it’s simply giving yourself peace. Life is too short to keep everybody accountable to expectations they don’t meet – especially when we refuse to communicate them. No matter how irreconcilable circumstances seem, nothing is too big (or small) for God to take control of.

So, please stop hiding. Please stop running away from the struggle. At the end of the day, we have no control over how people respond to our pain. Let God tend to your wounds. Let God deal with your expectations. Let God discipline concerned parties. Let God work faithfully on your behalf. Just let Him. This might take months, even years but He gets the final say, and He will make things right.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18–19) 

God will set you aside if He knows He can grow you.

There is a beautiful blessing in being hidden.

I’ve quieted myself on my blog for quite some time. If you noticed, I haven’t written anything related to my faith for months, and I’ve felt guilty for the longest time. I was (definitely) making time for Christ; it astounds me how much I’ve learned about His character! My appetite for Him has grown immensely. I’ve learned that God requires me to fully be accountable and obedient to Him, and it (sometimes) means not having to publicize it. For someone who spent the past 8 years divulging every. single. revelation on my social media platforms, I’ve learned to be content with His one-on-one discipline – seen by Him now, and felt by many later on.

How is He setting you aside? Maybe you’re experiencing a season of singleness, waiting for a good man after God’s heart. Maybe you’re called to pursue further studies, which will require you to live independently. Maybe you’re still waiting for a job offer, after months of applying to companies. Maybe you feel yourself questioning your friendships, drifting apart from those you love. I say this with love, may you be brave enough to obey the no’s and not yet’s of God. Look past your maybe’s, and trust His heart.

Read: Maximizing Your Season of Singleness

Sometimes, when God wants to grow you, He sets you aside. This means feeling hidden, occasionally lonely, and desperate for the next season. But, He delights when a heart submits to His plan. You cannot remain the same person when He is in the picture.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under Heaven. Yet God has made everything beautiful in its own time. And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. (Ecclesiastes 3:1,11,14)

Stop fitting your progress story into a mold.

There have been moments when I refused to move. Why? Because I can’t find anyone with the same story as mine…isn’t that silly? For the longest time, I’ve (unintentionally) looked to people around me – my family, friends, colleagues, and personal heroes – for a “standard”  that when I can’t meet it, I consider myself a failure. I’ve put them so high up on a pedestal that I end up doubting myself and worse, the faithfulness of God.

A huge example: my mother got married at 24. At 25, I don’t even have a prospect for a boyfriend. This has been weighing me down for some time because the enemy keeps feeding me one lie after the other about my worth. Is God wasting me? No. Will I find completion in a partner? Another big, fat no. Now, shall I talk about working the same corporate job for the past 4 years? Given this modern culture which champions job-hopping and freelancing, how can I not be insecure? That’s for another entry, friends. But, am I shedding light to my frailty?

I am not immune to comparison. But this, I am slowly learning: walk your path with self-love. Stop belittling your unique progress story. Allow the Lord to course you through life, embracing both detours and breakthroughs. I’ve stopped giving myself deadlines and have traded these instead for God’s perfect timing, and it is changing me.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

What were your biggest lessons from 2017? Share them on the comments below! I’d love this to be a growth-filled space. 🌹

Elisa Aquino

Elisa Aquino is a portrait photographer, life(style) writer, passion blogger, and beauty rookie from Manila, Philippines. This platform exists to document her daily musings and to showcase the life-changing power of grace to transform women from ashes to beauty.