Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Temperance: Reflecting on 2016

Perhaps I'm a few days late, but I would like to reflect on 2016. This year was emotionally draining, but spiritually filling. I learned a lot about myself in regards to what I am capable of, my strengths and weaknesses, and what I want. I discovered that I was capable of discipline, of chasing ambition.

photo by Jinny K. Photography

Summer of 2016 I was haunted by the thought that I don't know who I am or who I want to be.  I prayed, talked, and wrote about. I went to wise people and foolish people, hoping that someone could console my anxious questions. I wrote this just before seeking out a wise professor, an unofficial mentor, really. 

"Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be a story teller. All my stapled paged "books" from preschool prove that. I wanted to see the world and tell people what I saw and about who I met. Little did I know the wisdom in the heart of the small child that I once was. But as I grew older, I wanted something more realistic and tangible: I wanted to be an astronaut, the first woman on the moon, to be specific. 

After getting a telescope and science books for Christmas, my interest in the heavens grew. I knew constellations and I could recite the formula of the speed of light (300,000km per second). Yet still, I wondered if I could best explore the stars with my head or with my heart. My aspirations reverted back to the vagabond writer I'd once dreamed of. I wanted to see the universe via rhetoric instead of rockets. 

Later on, marine biology was my obsession. The depths of the ocean fascinated me. I wanted to know the secrets of watery graves, I wanted to know about all the creativity that went into God forming the seas. The adventure of exploring and researching captivated me-- the idea of the depths of the earth defining "deep" intrigued me. ...And ultimately pointed me back to my metaphoric pen. I decided the same as before-- I enjoyed the depth of great writers more than the ocean's. 

 Later, as a high school upperclassman, I thought if I wanted to write, I would need to teach. I considered being a theatre or literature teacher; or using my gifts with children and teaching kindergarten. I had this moment my senior year when I realized how much structure I would have-- how I loathed the future I had planned for myself! Once again, I was back to wanting to be a gypsy for Jesus. 

Now I know cross-cultural ministry is where I am supposed to be, writing, story telling, along the way. But who I am to be, who I want to be, is just as much a mystery as the galaxies or the oceans.

After I tried my hardest to communicate my questions to him, he told me that I'm asking the right ones, but followed with the best one. In 1 Chronicles 1, God tells Solomon that whatever he asks for will be given to him; my professor asked me what I would want from God. "Self-control," I whispered quickly. 

My choices, my attitude, situations I had put myself in flashed before my eyes. The people I was surrounding myself with or pining after, it all had the same root. I was creating these things with a paintbrush full of everything but temperance. After that, full of doubt, I prayed for it, for discipline. I prayed for faith to ease my doubts and love to purify my skeptical heart. I took control of the mundane things that were holding me back from using my volition for good. I've always been stubborn, but rarely have I sighted that in to help me. 

I changed my diet, I exercised more, I read instead of binging Netflix, I didn't let my anxious mind have control over my emotions. The following semester, my grades got better because I managed my time. I watched my spending. I got better sleep. I attended more classes. I sought temperance in every aspect that I could. I'm not perfect, and I still screw up in the mundane, but in the bigger picture, I have, by the grace of God, more self control now than I ever have. 

In addition to this, I sought healing from the demons that have hurt and haunted me for too long. I fought depression and anxiety so much that my panic attacks are at an all time low. I worked everyday on how I saw myself. I gained confidence and security in who I was, finding that who I've been looking for has been hiding under Pride all this time. The answer to my echo of questions this summer is that I want to be a person who remains in Christ so much that the fruits of the Spirit are growing in glorious abundance. 

I want to love my God and those in His image. I want to bring joy to those in mourning. I want to share peace to those who have none. I want to be patient with myself and anyone who needs it. I want to be kind to those who are persecuted. I want to do all things in goodness. I want to be more faithful than the largest mustard tree. I want to exude gentleness to everyone I touch. I want to be controlled by a mind of Christ. 

I know who I want to be. My prayer for 2017 is that, in Jesus's name, I will be this person. I pray that I will grow to be the woman of God I was created to be. 2016 was a year of learning, I hope 2017 will be a year of doing.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post. I believe that you are actually where you want to be, but you just don't believe in yourself. We are always working on ourselves and trying to improve ourselves as a whole, and I think you are doing a great. You have definitely encouraged me and showed me what the love of Christ is like. So much love for you, friend!

    Prayers as you continue this journey of temperance in this new year.