2018 is almost over, can you believe it? No, neither can I.
This past week I’ve spent a LOT of time meditating and reflecting on the year past, and something the Lord has continually told me is that it is important for us to not only leave things behind but also cleave to different aspects of His character in order to move forward in our faith.
The Lord has done so many great things in my life this year and I celebrate his faithfulness, but I know that I must press onwards to the greater things that he desires to do in and through me, and that starts with being still, reflecting and make intentional plans about my coming year.
This post is quite personal to me as I’m pulling the blinds back on some of my lowest points in 2018. I’ve discovered what I need to leave behind and what I need to cleave to, and I hope that me opening up my heart to you will give you the confidence to open up your heart to Abba as we transition into the new year.
So let’s talk about the 4 things I’m leaving behind in 2018:
In the last quarter of the year, I allowed distractions to obscure my view of the King of my heart. I was so disappointed in myself!!
I am naturally a very focused and goal oriented person who likes setting goals and seeing them met (be it physical, spiritual or intellectual). I was doing pretty well until I became complacent and let my guard down. I didn’t exercise spiritual discernment and I opened up my heart to a few new toxic friendships/relationships.
These associations slowly (but surely) begun to take my heart and mind away from the things above and place them on the things in the world. It started small, but over time I noticed that my desire to be about the Father’s business was diminishing and though I was still passionate about studying the word and praying, I wasn’t taking my light outside my 4 walls (more on this later).
I was happy being comfortable, and we know that no good thing comes from the comfort zone. This was a typical case of what Paul warns us about and the importance of guarding those we associate with closely.
I thank God who is rich in mercy and opened up my eyes to see before it was too late. I repented of my double-mindedness because I know God wants 100%, and in 2019 I’m taking the decision to daily rededicate my heart, mind, time and energy BACK to my first love: Jesus Christ.
I’m warring against anything and anyone that tries to take his place in my life or fails to push me further on in my walk. I’m leaving behind anything that will disqualify me of my heavenly rewards and I’m cleaving to everything that keeps me running my race faster.
I’m cleaving more than ever to my sisters and brothers in Christ who push me towards holiness and I’m purposing in my heart to stay accountability for not only my devotional and prayer life but also for my God-given assignments, evangelism and kingdom work.
2. Self-loathing, Comparison and Discontentment
This is a hefty one.
I’ve noticed that I go through seasons with these three attitudes. Sometimes I’m so content in God, my ministry work and who he has made me, and other times I can’t recognise myself. I feel so dissatisfied with my life, I see nothing but flaws and convince myself that I’m not as good as X (insert favourite Christian to compare self with..)
This is not only relevant in terms of my giftings and impact, but also in my appearance and personality.
Though I’ve come a long long way in my journey to discovering my gifts and what beauty is inside and out, I’ve faced many hurdles along the way this year. From being tempted to imitate other female Christians in order to be more “likeable”, to being pressured by potential suitors to change my appearance in order to be more pleasing, my confidence in my individuality has been knocked down severally this year.
On many occasions I’ve been made to doubt my journey and question if I should express my gift like X (insert favourite Christian to compare self with..) or behave and dress like the women in the world in order to receive praise and acceptance, but NO. The still small voice of God continues to remind and affirm me in who I am as his daughter. He has helped me to block out the voices of the world that continually try and mould me into something and someone that He never intended for me to be, and things have really gotten better.
So in 2019 I’m leaving behind self-loathing and discontentment with my gifts, talents and appearance and relearning what it means to be loved by my Heavenly Father so I can love myself and my image which he created in his own likeness. I am rejecting everything that try to reduce my value to any standard below God’s, and I’m cleaving to godliness and contentment which is GAIN.
I am also cleaving to the spirit of gratitude and praise, I want to praise my God who made me, the work of his hands are PERFECT!
3. Depression and Anxiety
Mental health – this is a taboo Christian topic, but let’s go there.
I’ve battled with poor mental health this year on many occasions. From completing my master’s research project and writing final exams to the transition into medical school. I’ve experienced a LOT of stress and uncertainty, and my mental health has definitely taken a few blows. As an aspiring psychiatrist, I know that one of the reasons God has taken me through these trials is so I can better relate to my patients in the future.
During my low periods, the Lord comforted me through the story of the prophet Elijah. Though he was heavily anointed and had very close fellowship with God, he still went through seasons of despair and depression that were triggered by circumstances in his life. (you can read the whole story in 1 Kings 19). Reading this story really taught me how God uses low mood and anxiety to draw his daughters to seek and trust him, and that’s exactly what he does with me.
I was so encouraged!!
I don’t need to think that God has left me because he has promised that he never would. He is right there through it ALL and wants me more than ever to cleave to him for comfort and strength while I’m in the valley.
I can’t say for sure that I’ll never struggle with poor mental health, but I’m leaving behind the defeated mindset that wallows in self-pity, runs from God and lets days go by without warring against it. I’m cleaving to God’s presence, the promise of peace and His perfect love to restore a sound mind in me in the midst of my storms.
I will walk each day intentionally knowing that the destination of total healing I often seek isn’t where God gets the glory, but the journey where he prunes me and builds my faith is. I will no longer be naive and ignorant and believe the lie that “true Christians never feel anxious or depressed” but I’ll be ready. I will expect those trials to come and be prepared to use his word to wage war against every thought that tries to exalt itself above Christ.
We seal our minds with the blood of Jesus right now and as we transition into 2019. I trust him to deliver us out of every trial we face both physical and mental and I call his peace upon your heart right now if you’ve ever doubted his presence.
So here is the final thing I’m leaving behind. Intimidation.
When I think back to when I first got saved, I didn’t have a care in the world who thought what about me. All I knew was that you MUST know my Jesus by force. As time has gone on my fire has certainly matured but sometimes it simply hasn’t been burning as strong.
There have been times this year when God has given me an opportunity to stand on my beliefs in controversial conversations, and I’ve done it half-heartedly or completely backed off.
“Why Lord? These are the exact scenarios I pray for!!” I’d think to myself.
“I know that I’m not ashamed of the gospel, so why do I sometimes cower away? What is it that’s stopping me from speaking freely and truthfully?”.
The spirit of intimidation.
The spirit of intimidation pushes you into a corner even though you know the way of escape. It silences you though you have the power to speak, and it forces you to blend in when you were called by God to stand out.
I know that standing out is hard, and I’ve struggled with the desire to get along with and be liked by everyone, but that’s the carnal man speaking. I can’t carry on like that. So I am cutting off the timid spirit which is tied to the desire for earthly acceptance. I am leaving behind the sneaky desire to be approved of by man and I’m running completely under the shade of God’s approval.
I am cleaving to boldness, and I am choosing to remain committed to stand upon the words of Jesus Christ and never be ashamed to proclaim his gospel and the life that I choose to live in him.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV)
Many of us experience timidity, and if this is you, say this prayer aloud, write it in your journal or stick it on your wall. We are walking into 2019 with the freedom to make Him known wherever we go!
Lord Jesus, please restore the zeal and joy I once had and cast off this timid spirit that I have never known. I want to know you Lord and make you known in my home, my workplace, among my friends and family and everywhere my feet find themselves. Help me to be bold in your name and not shrink back. May you be glorified always by the words that proceed out of my mouth and may your name be exalted through my life. Amen.
So there you have it, that’s what I’m leaving behind in 2018, and what I’m cleaving to instead. I am honestly so excited for the new year. I believe that the Lord is going to do great things among us if we yield to him and cleave to everything that represents his nature!
I pray that you have a peaceful transition into the new year.