At the beginning of 2018, I vowed to myself that it was going to be a great year. I was going to learn a lot, I was going to be willing to learn a lot, I was going to go places, I was going to push myself to try new things… And I did all of the above.
Followers have been asking me to talk about my last year – favorite things, worst things, to share what I’ve learned, which resolutions I actually accomplished, etc. Here are a few:
- Road-tripped to Redding, California, by myself.
- Got septum, navel, and industrial piercings. (The septum piercing didn’t stick around for long)
- Got more tattoos.
- Became manager at Black Rock Coffee Bar.
- Expanded my plant and crystal collections.
- Read 12 books.
- Started boxing training.
- Visited family in California and Texas.
- Read at a poetry slam.
- Road-tripped to Canada.
- Became a worship leader at a church.
- Didn’t eat fast food.
This year has been one of the best and worst years of my life. I’ve lived and learned and lost a lot. Honestly, sitting here and writing this is helping me process it all. And it’s not easy. But I know it’s for the best. I need to. I’ve kept things at bay for far too long, afraid to feel what is bound to be felt when topics are brought to light and memories resurface. It’s crazy to realize how much I’ve changed and developed in the last year.
I titled this post “What 2018 took from me” because at the beginning of the year, I asked my heavenly Father to expand and decrease me. To bless me in ways only He knows how to, but to also take away anything that wasn’t for my good. Anything that wasn’t His best for me. And anything that needed to get out.
Two months ago, I watched a sermon by Pastor Robert Madu, when he guest spoke at Elevation Church in Texas. I can honestly say that it was the most life-changing and impactful sermon I have ever heard. Throughout the last two months, I have re-listened and re-watched it almost a dozen times. The sermon title is “Get Out” and in short, Pastor Madu speaks on telling anything negative, unbelieving or ungodly to get out of our lives. Because, as believers, we “have not been given the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Therefore, anything other than the fruit of the Spirit needs to get out. The sermon is so much more than that. Honestly, if you have 45 minutes to do anything today, watch/listen to it. (Seriously, stop reading this and go do it right now). Another topic he touches on in the sermon is how we, as humans, are all connected. Not just because we are all made by the Creator, but because our lives are all entwined by feelings and emotions, situations, experiences, everything! We affect each others’ lives through words and touch. The impact you leave on someone just by a five minute interaction can affect them for the rest of their lives. How are you choosing to influence others? How are you choosing to decide things for your own life?
Not only was this sermon motivational and affected me so deeply because of the pure authenticity in his words, but it also resonated with a lot of what I learned this year. And if there are three lessons that I want to share with you the most, they are these:
1. 2018 took loneliness from me.
There is no one you should invest time in more than yourself.
I’m not saying this in a self-centered way, but rather “put your oxygen mask on before assisting others”. If you can’t love and care for yourself first, no one else will. If you don’t respect yourself, no one else will. And here’s the biggest one for me – if you can’t enjoy your own company, no one else will value it either.
I have always been a social person. I would rather spend time with other people than spend time alone. I have never enjoyed going out and shopping or being out in public by myself. I always wished I could have someone to call up and ask them to join me. Quality Time is my greatest love language, so naturally, I want to spend time with other people. That’s how I get my cup filled. Or at least, how I thought I needed to.
Until God really started teaching me about embracing – and enjoying! – my own company. No, Raquel, it’s not weird to go out to dinner alone. It’s not crazy to road trip by yourself to another state. It’s okay to go on a date with yourself. It’s hella fun to go to a concert by yourself.
For so long, I think I just felt awkward because it was so far out of my comfort zone to do anything like that alone. But once I started challenging myself and stepping out to at least try doing things on my own, it honestly wasn’t so scary anymore. You can often find me strolling through downtown Portland, exploring parks, going on hikes, road-tripping, perusing in a bookstore, at a nice restaurant… all by myself. 2017 taught me much about choosing the right people to surround myself with. 2018 taught me that I’m my own best company and friends will cross my path when God orchestrates them to. Until then, I can be my own best friend.
2. 2018 took misplaced security from me.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in people or places that you feel comfortable with/in. You can even go so far as to say that you love them so much that you set your security, your value, and your worth into whatever you gained from being around them. Whether it be words of affirmation or feeling like you have purpose or direction in life. It’s not easy to admit this. And usually you only realize it when circumstances change and those people or places aren’t as prominent anymore. It throws you off. The rug gets pulled out from under you. Because basing your security in anything changeable will mean that your identity will shift as well. And I learned this lesson well in 2018. God gently reminded me that my occupation(s) in life shouldn’t be where I focus and base my identity on. And it takes a lot of refocusing to rebuild a foundation of security. But this new year is going to be so good.
3. 2018 took unhealthy relationships from me.
In the words of Halsey, “And I was like ‘You know what? I’m done.’ And I cut a lot of people out of my life. Some for a little bit of time, and they came back around. Some for good.” This just about sums up what I did this year. And I hope you know that you have the permission and the power to do the same. Anyone who reminds you of your past, continuously points out your flaws, manipulates or takes advantage of you, makes you cry on a regular basis, needs to get out. You deserve to be surrounded by people who build you up and remind you of the good they see in your heart, the amazing impact you have on lives around you, and encourage you to love life and always strive for better.
Happy New Year, dear readers. I pray it holds many lessons and blessings for you. It’s going to be an amazing year.
“For thus says the LORD who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), “I am the LORD, and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in some dark land.”
- Isaiah 45:18-19
“But remember the former days when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings.”
- Hebrews 10:32
“O LORD, You are my God. I will exalt You. I will give thanks to Your name for You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.”
- Isaiah 25:1
“Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves. So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He inflicts pain and gives relief; He woads and His hands also heal.”
- Isaiah 5:17-18
“Finally, be strong in the LORD and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
- Ephesians 6:12-13
Sing My Way Back – Steffany Gretzinger
Born Again – Cory Asbury
Tethered – Phil Wickham
Steady Ground – Christian Carcamo
Defender – Rita Springer (Upperroom version)
Freedom – Kim Walker-Smith
Move – Chris McClarney
Known – Tauren Wells
Living Hope – Phil Wickham
Hypnotized – Tory Lanez
Forever Right Now – Conor Matthews
You & I – Picture This
There’s No Way – Lauv ft. Julia Michaels
Drunk Me – Mitchell Tenpenny
You Might Be – Autograf ft. Lils
Electric Touch – ARIZONA
Born – OneRepublic
Over & Over – Ben Rector
Battle – David Guetta ft. Faouzia
Born To Love You – LANCO
Jet Lag – Gavin Haley
Fractures – Illenium ft. Nevve
My Thoughts On You – The Band Camino
Green Lights – NF
Jump – Julia Michaels ft. Trippie Redd
Without Me – Halsey