January 1, 2017: “THIS IS MY YEAR!!!” You remember when we all shouted that from the rooftops and all of our social media portals? We were so sure that this year would mark the changing of a season…it would be our time! Money, new opportunities, open doors, you name it! Fast forward the clock about 11 months. November 1, 2017: “This has been the WORST year of my life.” How did we go from such great expectation to such grave disappointment over the course of this year? What happened to our plans, our strategies, our excitement, and our hope? And 2017, was it really that much of a jerk to us? Were almost all 365 days a waste? Do we have nothing good to say about this year?
Unlike many of my counterparts, I didn’t begin this year claiming that it would be mine. If you were to go and read through some of my recent writings, you will learn that this year actually started with much uncertainty for me. I spent my January 1st wrestling with one of the hardest decisions of my life and questioning if I was sure that I heard God correctly. I began my 2017 making the choice to walk away from everything so that I could start over. If the truth be told, it really wasn’t my choice; everything was falling apart, and I was only trying to make a way of escape before the walls started crashing on me and literally killed me. By January 30, 2017, I was homeless. Within a few weeks time, one of my best friends wasn’t even an acquaintance, a man that I allowed close to my heart and betrayed me, and I had very little to my name and even less hope in my heart. As the year progressed I was hit with a number of challenges and setbacks including hits taken to my bank account, my credit, my health, and my heart. Though I didn’t declare that 2017 was my year, I had one declaration, “This is my season, and I will rebuild!” This was my mantra in the midst of what seemed to be a never-ending transition and painful process. Even while losing friends, gluing the pieces of my broken heart back together, and starting my life over from scratch after almost a decade of building this life, I declared, “This is my season, and I will rebuild.”
I have been very reflective since the time leading up to my 29th birthday in July. I have been even more so as 2017 prepares to say its final farewell. I have considered losses, gains, remains, and I have even checked to see what measure of expectations still remain within my heart. You know what I found? I found that I was much more discouraged than I should have been. End-of-the-year assessment: I’m still just as single as I was when I said, “Happy New Year,” my money is still stretched, I have fewer friends, I’m taking two more daily medicines than before, and turning another year older to me meant that I was running out of time. I found myself questioning how I was in any better state than I was almost 365 days ago. Then conviction rose up within me…what I like to call God “YOKING ME UP.” I was ONLY focusing on the things that went wrong or hadn’t leveled out yet. Did NOTHING good happen for me in 2017? Yes; there was plenty of good! I finally got the courage to start cosmetology school; I took an amazing vacation to Alabama with some friends and met some great new country talking friends; I was able to strengthen my friendship with a best friend who often got pushed into the shadows of other friendships (he understands what I’m saying); I relaunched According to Chris and established a good following; my relationship with God has grown tremendously and, as a result, I started growing as a person; and I moved into my own apartment — no roommate, no splitting bills, no sharing space for the first time in about two years. NO, things have not been easy; as a matter of fact, most of these successes have come with burden, some measure of struggle, sacrifice, and even their own sets of transition, BUT IT HAPPENED!
Maybe as you sit and take inventory of your life and this year, you find yourself with disappointments. Maybe you are upset with how this year panned out. Maybe it didn’t match your plans and didn’t align with your vision board. I GET IT! Though I began this year with very loose expectations, as I started to gain some faith, I started to make plans. What I didn’t prepare for was God ripping my plans to shreds so that I would follow His plan. But even when you are having to submit to His will, it can still be disappointing to watch your expectations not be met. It hurts to have to readjust. But I simply want to remind you that all wasn’t lost…not every day was filled with pain and disappointment.
Quick story: I have a friend who got a new job this year. This individual was so dissatisfied with his current job because of all of the many changes, the uncertainty of the schedule, and the seeming lack of opportunity to advance. So this friend began to pray and search for a new job. After many interviews, it seemed as if nothing was going to open up. As a matter of fact, my friend received an email that the company was no longer even hiring for the position that he had already interviewed for three times. Finally when hope was lost, my friend received THE CALL… “You’re hired!” But even after a new beginning, a new job, and fresh start, this friend found himself discouraged because other things in his life weren’t like he wanted them to be. This sounds like me…a woman who God HAS allowed to rebuild, but I calculate the areas of my life that aren’t thriving yet. “Yeah, I have a roof over my head, but I’m single and a bit lonely. Yeah, I’m gainfully employed, but my bills and budget don’t seem to meet. Yeah, I have a best friend who has been there for me, but look at all the friends I lost!” Those were my complaints until I tuned into the fact that complaining was EXACTLY what the enemy wanted me to do. It is a strategic trick of the enemy to distract us with all that hasn’t worked out so that we ignore all of the things that God has allowed to work in our favor. Comparison was his method in my life. He would persuade me to compare my journey to that of my peers or even to my own journey from previous seasons. Before I knew it, I’d find myself jealous, I’d begin to hate where I was on this particular portion my journey, and ultimately the good that had manifested for me just wasn’t good enough. Check mate, bring on the discouragement.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28 [New Living Translation]
Maybe you, like me, have found yourself in a place of discouragement, even if the path to get there was a bit different. I want to encourage you that everything will work out. This year may not have “been your year” in the traditional sense, but it still was your year. Case in point, I didn’t become a wifey or millionaire in 2017, and I had to fight some battles that I didn’t think I was prepared to fight, but two things hold true for me… #1 I’m still ALIVE! #2 I am READY! 2017 and all of its troubles pushed me right into position to be aligned with God’s will. And now that I am in the exact place the He wants to be, I am ready to do whatever He wants me to. So even if you will be crossing over into the new year frustrated, broke, uncertain, or even with tears in your eyes, please know that God is working each individual piece of your 2017 and the years before together for your good. I can’t promise that 2018 will be your big break, but the remaining days of this year and the days ordained for you in next year present great opportunities to pray for divine strategy and alignment with God’s will. And when we open our mouths to make our final statement concerning 2017, let us boldly declared despite all disappointments and adversities while calculating all victories, “IT IS WELL.”
“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, WHATEVER MY LOT, though hast taught me to say, ‘IT IS WELL. IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!'”
I hope this helps.