In reflection of the past year, as it seems each year requires us to do, I have seen such changes in who I am. At first I felt that I had become a different person, and as I've thought more about it, I have actually become more of who I am.
It's funny how you can be someone within and allow that to somehow be squelched to appear that you are someone very different. I don't want to toot my own horn at all, but my outer characteristics would appear to be kindness, friendliness, love, joy, energy, laughter, and sincerity. (Maybe others...) Inwardly, and to only those closest to me, I am also critical (of myself and others at times), stubborn, strong minded (slightly different than stubborn), opinionated, introspective (overthinker!), and I have high expectations of others. I'm sure there are other characteristics as well, but those are the ones that stand out the most to me.
Over the past year, my inward characteristics have become more evident. I think it comes with age, and maybe with the flow of hormones, but I like to say that my filter just doesn't work like it used to.
Problem is, I have filtered way too much. I have allowed others to control my actions for far too long. I have worried way too much about saying something that will offend someone or doing something that may hurt others. Truth is, if I'm living like the Christian I proclaim to be, those things shouldn't be an issue.
The further truth is, in holding back from exhibiting my full personality, I think I was trying to avoid the idea of other people disliking me, thinking badly of me, or talking about me. What I have found is that if we are living according to the character that is within us, if someone else is taking part in the above actions, it is THEIR flaw, not mine.
I have learned over the past year that I have little respect for people that arent' willing to work. If you're unable, fine, but if you can, work. At least make an effort. I also don't like excuses. Just own up to your responsibility and quit blaming others. Next, gossip destroys. If you don't truly know it, shut it, 'cause I don't want to hear it. If you want to hear it, you're not worth my time either.
I also learned that taking up space in a church does not necessarily make one a Christian. The church is full of people that are living like Hell. On the flip side of that, the world is full of people that are making a difference. It's also full of hurting people that won't darken a church door because of their perception of those within. It's our fault, really, church. If we dress a certain way, smile a certain way, sing a certain way, "act" a certain way, and the outsider doesn't fit that way, should they really care to join us?
This is what brings me to meeting people where they are, or as a young man I know so eloquently reminds us, "love people where they're at". Step out of that comfort zone. Sit with a homeless guy at Krispy Kreme so he can enjoy one more hour of rest in the warmth, and buy him a doughnut and coffee while you're at it. Believe me, it may just change your life. Gaze into a ministry that reaches families that are making their homes at a motel. Spend a few hours with them. Figure out how you can meet one of their needs, such as a warm jacket or box of food. Step into their world for a moment, and just see if you can walk away the same. Look for opportunities to meet needs around you. Sometimes all it takes is one simple thing.
So 2012... What will it hold? Ups, downs, tears, laughter... Blessings for sure, and opportunities. It's mostly what we make of it, as it is our choice as to how we deal with it. I resolve to continue my quest of not holding back. I will work harder, love harder, laugh harder, and live stronger. I will be aware of those around me who are truly in need. I will value my friends more, and I have developed some AMAZING friendships over the past year. I will spend more time with my family. I will spend less time trying to meet someone else's schedule and/or expectations and less time worrying about what they think when I don't.
I will continue to love the Lord with all of my heart and live for Him. I will strive to know Him better each day. (As I'm already learning....) I will be a better wife and mother. I will be better to myself and not dismiss my own needs while not putting them above others'. Yep, it sounds like another busy year with a lot to live up to.... But in reality, it's just another opportunity to learn and grow and fully become the person God intends for me to be.