I celebrated my 32nd birthday two weeks ago, and you know what that means, right?
It’s time to wrap up the This Is 31 series!
I’ve been thinking about the best way to close out this series and initially thought I might dedicate an entire post to lessons on self discovery. In a way, this series has been all about that, but it lacks details on how I plan to move forward. If you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve already highlighted a few areas where there’s room for growth, but it might be helpful to outline a few practical steps in the right direction (for you and me). With this in mind, instead of doing a post-by-post review, I’ll highlight my main takeaways and their implications for the year(s) ahead.
If you’re new to my site, please take a few minutes to catch up on all four of the previous posts and tell me what you think!
The time I spent reflecting on childhood memories and how they’ve shaped me was more than an exercise in writing. It was also a chance to be real about the things that matter in my little world today. Here’s a glimpse of where I’m going from here:
Words To Live By
I aspire to be someone who’s wise — not only in my words, but also in my decision-making. This Is 31 has allowed me to reflect on the ways in which faith and wisdom go hand in hand — particularly in the context of healthy relationships. So if there was only one piece of wisdom I could take from this series and apply for the rest of my life, in all circumstances, it would be the following:
“My faith [in God] teaches me over and over that if I place complete trust or confidence in others and never expect to be let down, I’ll set myself up for a fall. At the same time, if I allow myself to be ruled by the sting of disappointment, I’ll never experience true freedom. This is why it is so important to guard my heart in all relationships and surrender my fears to my Creator. I know that He sees (and desires to mend) the brokenness; and if my faith is in Him, I won’t be overcome by it.” – Teri
In the same breath, if I could go back in time and apply one piece of wisdom, sooner rather than later, it would be my thoughts on friendship:
“Experience has taught me the importance of using discretion among friends — particularly when disclosing matters of my heart. Not all friends can be trusted with the same details about my hopes, dreams, plans, interests, or struggles . . . Some, maybe, but definitely not all.” – Teri
The way we see and relate to others not only reflects our faith, but also our level of maturity. Over the past few weeks, my missional community and I have been studying James 3, which offers a broad range of thoughts on wisdom — in speech and in conduct. Recently I decided that verse 17 would be my go-to verse in assessing how I see, relate to, and communicate with those around me – be it family, friends, or complete strangers. It reads, “…the wisdom from above [i.e., God] is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere…” Definitely a tall order, but something worth noting and aspiring to for the sake of healthier interactions.
We will never be able to escape people and the complexities that come with sharing life with them. So in faith, we must seek to govern our own actions (proactively!) and not be easily moved or shaken by those of another.
Do you have a particular Bible verse that has helped you grow in wisdom in how you choose to relate to (or resolve conflict with) others? If so, what is it? Please share!
Throughout this series, I had a few breakthrough moments where, for the first time, I was able to put very complex feelings (that I’ve never spoken aloud) into clear and succinct words. In turn, I was able to move further along in processing them. For example, in my post on heartache, something finally clicked for me when I wrote the following:
“Heartache is a pain that lingers each time I buy into the lie that something is inherently wrong with me. That something about me makes me unworthy of acceptance and love. That my internal scars, inflicted over a span of thirty-one years, are far too visible, and that no one wants to deal with them or at least look past them long enough to see me . . .” – Teri
I cannot describe the weight that was lifted in getting these words in writing. In all honesty, it was another step forward in a lifelong journey of reclaiming everything that this pain and that these lies took from me in my 32 years of life . . .
During my time in Chicago, I was able to connect with a new friend who’s been a tremendous source of encouragement and accountability. Each week, she prays for me and reminds me to cling to the Word of God — particularly when the pain of my past and present tries to get the best of me. She understands how this pain contributes to my ongoing battle with anxiety and depression (which I haven’t discussed in details here, but plan to in the future), and has committed herself to getting in the fight with me. In that, I have committed to being transparent about my weekly struggles (in wisdom, I should add) and open to receiving help in its many forms.
She is truly an answered prayer as I had been praying for accountability from someone who understands that my struggle is a spiritual battle that cannot be fought in isolation. (I should add that we’ve both seen therapists in the past and prioritize our mental health.) So here’s to greater accountability and winning the battle for my mind with the help of community both near and far.
Do you have an accountability partner? If so, what does that relationship look like? What sort of breakthrough moments have you shared?
Thank you for following along with this series. My hope is that you’ve not only learned something about me, but also about yourself, and that you will continue to journey with me along the path to healing. Sharing my story has been difficult at times, but I’ve seen the power in owning it and sharing it as a testimony. My prayer is that you would be inspired to share your story, at whatever pace feels comfortable to you, and that you too would find healing in owning every page – the good ones and the bad ones – of your life’s story.