When I think about this past year, one of the biggest thigns that stands out to me is the way God has worked in my heart concerning relationships. As an introverted, lone-rider type of hermit, I hadn't really learned to rely, trust, and open up to people. God taught me a lot this year about need, about relationships, about love and support and what it means to live together as God's family.
I'm learning not to be such a hermit. That's a tendency I've been consciously aware of for several years, but more recently God particularly laid it on my heart and prodded me in that direction.
God puts people in relationships for a purpose. Even relationships that are difficult. Even with people who are hard to love and hard to relate to. Even when there is sin in my life and the lives of others. God is teaching me. He's stripping away the innate selfishness of my heart. If I never love...I may never hurt. I may never be uncomfortable, never have to apologize, never have to cry or show others my hurt and sinful heart.
But if I seal my heart up, it will die. If I remain a hermit, what happens then? C.S. Lewis said about this that if you never want to hurt, never love. But then, your heart will die, shrivel up upon itself, and ultimately, know neither Sorrow nor Joy.
I need people. My heart is sinful. My circumstances aren't ideal. And I need people by my side. I need to be honest. I need to allow myself to be broken because brokenness always precedes any healing. It's in the stripping off of something dirty that you allow yourself to be cleansed. It's in jumping into the dirt and mess that you find diamonds.
I've been blown away by the people that Jesus has placed in my life this past year, both new friends and old relationships that He's strengthened and given grace to. Specifically, in July of this year, a group of young people started getting together to talk about God, pray for each other, and really support and build into each-other's lives. It's become dubbed "Thursday Night Awesomeness," and the encouragement I have received simply from the regular time being with people who love Jesus has been immense. I'm learning to love others. I'm learning to encourage and challenge others. And I'm being loved and encouraged and challenged by others. I'm being challenged to break out of my selfishness and LOVE not just in words but in Truth. I can't underestimate the influence of this in my life in the last 6 months.
I'm learning that love means sacrifice and that people, not agendas or strategies is what God is really concerned about. Jesus came into the world to create a new kind of people, a people known for their love for each other. I've just begun to taste a little part of that in my own life, and I still, daily, hourly, have to battle the selfishness in my heart and fight to love and let myself be loved.
But, though the road is rough and I've fallen flat on my face more times than I can count, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. And I'm still walking this road gladly and with hope.
What else can I say? In 2011, God was good. He's taught me incredible things. He's broken me. He's healed me.
He's changed me.
How has God changed you in the past year?