Personal Lessons of Yesteryear (Of 2022)

In the numbing cold, my tired body pressed on against the torrential rain to march forward. Unforgiving howls of the night sent shivers down my mind and heart. I walked through the deep dark forest like a headless chicken, and the journey seemed neverending.

“Why God?” I lamented. I felt like I was battling hard for the past three years. Even occasions that call for celebration, such as the birth of Joy in 2020, were dampened by unfortunate incidents. I had thought my 2022 vision of multiplication and acceleration would see a change of fortunes.

There was indeed a change, but not in the fortunes one can see. The unseen change was in me. God had worked to open my senses to make sense of the things around and in me, albeit painful.

So even as I continued into the deep dark forest, I had a greater “enlightenment” to cope with the journey. I had the eyes to see a dim light shining a narrow path, along tall grasses and bushes. I put one foot in front of the other, treading slowly to keep my steps on the path, for I don’t know what’s crouching at the side or what lies ahead – it could well be a sudden drop at the cliff’s edge.

As I looked back on 2022, I could sense a giant umbrella over my head to shield me from the rain pounding on me. The umbrella blocked off the splattering sounds so I could better hear the whisperings of God. It also parted the rain in my line of vision so I could better see Him walking beside me.

With that, I had a little more wisdom to glean rich lessons from my trials and to feast on these tribulations. And in turn, I could gain more wisdom. Finally an inkling of what it means to eat at the table God has prepared before the enemies. So even in the midst of trials and tribulations, I can see the work He’s doing in my life and the new perspectives He’s unfolding. This makes the bitter tea more palatable.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Psalm 23:5

Moreover, with the vision of 2023, I saw how the past three years were somehow in preparation for what’s to come in the years ahead. I don’t know what goes before me, but I know God who is with me. Recently I read about Israel’s rebellion and God then specifically told them that “I am not among you, and the Lord would not listen to your voice nor give ear to you.” (Deuteronomy 1:42-46). And that’s scary to me.

2022 Lessons for me

At Phuket, with a book

In 2022, I got to make more sense of my past and thus understand myself better. In turn, I could peel away the layers on me to appreciate who God made me out to be and the talents He had placed in me. Understanding is also a precursor to changing for the better – like managing my expectations of others and changing my extreme perspectives and emotions so I don’t swing like a pendulum.

Me and My Friends

Knowing why I am who I am, I am learning to have more self-compassion – to trust myself more, to be kinder to myself and love myself more. Which leads to, friendships. I have often heard how one can keep craving for love in the wrong places (boyfriends/girlfriends). Something along the line of, you got to love God and yourself before you find the right one (husband/wife). Or let your needs be fulfilled by God instead of your spouse or partner, if not your continued demands and expectations (of the imperfect person) will strain the relationship.

This year God revealed and showed that all these apply to my friendships too, to have my needs of love and companionship met by God and not others. Moreover, logically speaking there’s less basis to demand loyalty from friends compared to my husband. Hence, I got to manage my perspectives and expectation of my friends. I am also learning when to hold on to friends who treasure me and when to let go of drifting one-sided friendships (even though they are dear to me). When I set boundaries, I saw better. Anyway, it’s back to loving God first and trusting that God will bring me to the right friendship or comradeship.

Trust and Money

The next two lessons are huge ones – I mentioned them previously in the review of my 2022.

I saw how I need to be wise as a serpent in where to place my trust. I felt betrayed, but still gave the person the benefit of doubt and a big second chance. I would probably feel better if the other party had admitted to the mistake and apologised. Anyway, this episode taught me to be more wary and vigilant in the future. We learn from our bites of mistakes, don’t we?

Then I saw how I need to be harmless as a dove and be a trustworthy person who keeps my word. I know I have a weakness, which is second-guessing and then regretting my decisions and promises. I would then sometimes u-turn to not honour or revoke the agreement and thus causing pain to other parties. I had friendships lost because of this. This time, the stakes are high and it’s harder to u-turn. Still, I wanted to push through the u-turn, but God stopped me. It’s a big lesson time – God told me to let my yes be a yes.

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

Matthew 10:16

In 2022, God continued to dig and unravel a big idol in my life. He showed me how much I love and trust money, and how money is such an idol in my life. My scarcity and poverty mindset is also the weed of such misplaced trust in money.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Matthew 6:24

Justice and Forgiveness

Lastly, justice. I had a sense of why God specifically said to give justice to the weak, etc. In this power-imbalanced world, the rich and powerful are more likely to get their justice or get away scot-free, whichever scale they are looking for.

“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute,”.

Psalm 82:3

Because of the injustice upon my family, I read about other injustices too. And then ask God why, oh why the bad guys can go away scot-free to continue sin and harm others. I don’t wish the perpetrator had an eternity of burning but at least be punished on earth. God told me to leave the final judgment to Him and in the meantime, try to forgive.

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Revelation 21:8

This year, I can easily think of three people I need to forgive – over fresh wounds. Two financially wounded me, causing me deep distress mentally and emotionally. The other one, hurt even deeper, and I really wish to publicly warn others about him, but I am not sure if I could, perhaps in some way in future. I need wisdom.

Meanwhile, I need to forgive them, trusting God has His reasons for how things turned out and for His justice, that is to come. And I need to forgive myself too – I didn’t have the power of hindsight when I made the decisions, and I couldn’t help it when my survival coping mechanism of freeze mode kicked in when I could have possibly prevented or minimised the misfortunes.

Do you also have anyone to forgive as we stepped into 2023?

Blessings and Thanksgiving

I had some hard and painful lessons, but I saw God coming through for my family this year. The open doors were subtle yet miraculous nonetheless. I did feel that God had opened up our storehouse (we didn’t know/plan for) for the famine ahead in 2023, yet the provision had been leaking away quite badly – things missing, damaged, etc.

The famine was over all the face of the earth, and Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians. And the famine became severe in the land of Egypt.

Genesis 41:56

His revelations about the church, Christians and my inner world had been refreshing to my heart and mind too. I continue to thank Him for allowing me to indulge in writing as a hobby and hone my skill. And I am ever so thankful none of us had major health issues or accidents in 2022, except for Covid and the monthly sickness of Joy.

May I count my trials and forget them,

May I count my blessings and keep them close to my heart.

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