The coming of a new year is as inevitable as the rising and setting of the sun. We wait for it in anticipation because it means many things for us.
We recall and we move on. We cry and we laugh. We hug and say goodbye. We make noise before we embrace the silence of a new beginning.
Sometimes, we also bring with us old lessons to a new year. Because let’s admit it: nobody’s an expert in living and we aren’t made up the moment we’ve learned. We will always be in need of grace, of constant reminders, and of a light to guide us through.
Here are three timeless life lessons that I intend to keep for 2019 and beyond:
1. “Be kind to time”
Time reveals so much about us. It tests our patience, it sharpens our ability to endure, and it teaches us to submit to the ultimate Timekeeper. Time also tells us what we value most in our lives.
“Where and how did I spend my 2018?” It is easy to conclude that I did everything I could to make every moment count. But I can also recall many times when I wanted things to happen real quick or I was too lazy to the point of wasting my own time. I was also not too generous of my time for others because I was too busy with myself. And yes, I was many many times impatient.
Lesson learned? Time isn’t supposed to be rushed nor should it be taken for granted. There is time for everything and one must be willing to wait. Waiting doesn’t have to be passive. We make precious use of time when we live as we wait. Help. Listen. Create. Serve. Do something meaningful as the clock ticks away.
Time doesn’t solely belong to us, either. It is supposed to be shared, to be given away, and to be used as a channel to reach out to others – not just our friends, our family, our boy/girlfriend, our wife/husband, but any anyone who needs our presence around them.
Finally (and the most important thing to my 2019), time isn’t in my hands. Yes, I can spend time my whole life but what actually transpires as I breathe and walk and live, is in the hands of the Timekeeper.
So Mel, “Give God your time, give the seasons of your life a time, give yourself and others time. You can trust God to make things happen when He says, “It’s time.”
2. “Don’t pretend you know it all”
One thing I discovered about myself when I entered adulthood is that I am fascinated about “organizing” my life. I am usually messy with other things, but when it comes to what I will do next year, what I want to happen tomorrow, or what I will do when I go to the mall, everything must be planned ahead. In most cases, I am the opposite of spontaneous. I want to be ready for everything (not anything).
There’s nothing wrong about planning. But sometimes, I find it suffocating. It also leads me into thinking that I am powerful when in fact I am stubborn; that I am the only one in control of the little details in my life when in fact anything can happen at any given time without my knowledge.
I am still learning to strike a balance between control and surrender. We can control how we react to people, to circumstances, and to life’s craziness. We cannot control the outcome of our decisions, how people would feel about us, or where our relationships are going. In both ends, we are given wisdom to discern what is right and what is wrong. Wisdom can also reveal to us what we cannot control in this life, and this is when we are taught to surrender.
So Mel, “Seek for wisdom to know when to exert your effort and when to let go. Don’t tire yourself with endless pursuits to perfection or happiness. You don’t know it all. You may know what’s good, but God knows what’s best.”
3. “Stay out there”
I used to think that being quiet and shy are negative traits. When I grew older, I realized that it’s not really my shyness that I must change, but the way I think about interactions. Interactions are not for mere socialization. We interact to know people, to understand them, to feel how they feel, and to journey with them. Not everyone will have the same interests, beliefs, and ideas like yours, but it doesn’t make them unworthy of your time.
I was afraid then of rejections. “What if people think that I am not good enough?” I think this was one of the reasons why I resorted to books, writing, and activities that do not involve human interaction. I still do these things upto now but I am trying not to do them just so to avoid people.
I am starting to learn that people need each other. I’ve spent enough time doing things by myself. Now it’s time that I do more things for and with others. Talk with and get to know people, discover each other’s differences, celebrate life with them, and serve with a sense of togetherness and community. Being part of a church and teaching diverse people (from kids, to the underprivileged, to foreign students) opened my heart to intentional interactions.
I realize, I do not need to be outgoing and talkative to reach out to people. I can be a quiet person with an open heart. I can be a shy girl and yet have ears that are willing to listen and hands that are willing to help.
So Mel, “Continue reaching out to others. Stay out there. You have many stories to tell and there are billions of people around you. Connect, listen, and leave something worthwhile in every human being you meet.”