In Memory of 2016

"Either way, I WIN."

I remember listening to Christine Caine sometime ago, when she told a story that has come to matter a great deal to me. She talked about being diagnosed with thyroid cancer and needing surgery. She was scared and terrified, as anyone would be in the face of such a precarious situation. So she prayed and cried out to God for help. After praying she realized there could only be two possible outcomes: one, the surgery is not successful and she dies. In which case, she goes to heaven, and that's a WIN; The second outcome is a successful surgery,  where she comes through hale and hearty. In this outcome, she also WINS. She said upon this realization, she assumed a new level of confidence and said “Either way Devil, I win”. Whatever the outcome, I WIN. That’s my biggest lesson from this year. In retrospect, I wish I was more confident of this fact. That whatever happens, NO MATTER the outcome, with God on my side I WIN. In the course of this year, I KNEW without any iota of doubt that there's a God and he's rooting for me.

And, If God is for us, who can be against us?

This year started very much like 2014; filled with optimism and confident in what was to come, I was certain the sky was the limit. But like the annoying sequence of my life I described here, things started to take an awkward turn when rejection after rejection started to pour in. When I say rejection, I mean from every single facet of my life. Everywhere and everything and everyone kept saying NO. I did not understand. I hard worked very hard, I was very qualified, I was ready; why were things not going my way? Anyway, it was a new year, but I was sad, depressed, angry, and most of all the situation was familiar. It was turbulent emotionally: one minute I was hopeful, the next I was ready to give up.

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.

In the course of all these, I learnt how selfish people really are, and I decided  to care less about others or what they think. Because in the end people only mostly look out for themselves.  This brings me to my next point: family. I can't say this enough, but my family really, truly rocks. This year taught me the importance of family.  My family always supported me and believed in me even when I couldn't dare believe in myself. My parents always insisted that no matter what, we should count our blessings and trust God. They were (as they always are) right. God kept picking me up even at my lowest. He kept reminding me of how awesome, steadfast, and amazing he truly is.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

For the first time in my life,  I almost bought a lie devil sold to me. I thought, "perhaps there is a God, but maybe he doesn't really care about us." But nah, God SHOWED me he rules in the affairs of men. I will never forget watching Bishop TD Jakes' A Crumb in Crisis on YouTube.  My God!  It changed my life. I watched it when I needed it the most.  I became rejuvenated. All that anger, hurt, disappointment, rage that I was feeling just dissipated. God reached out to me even when I wasn’t looking. He reminded me that no matter what happens, God loves me. I wasn't out of the woods, but it was clear the battle was not mine but the Lord's. Hence, devil had lost.

This year, God taught me to wait; life is more about the journey than the destination. Now, for a control freak and quasi-perfectionist, this is terrible news. But we must learn to forget about our own timelines and completely depend on and wait upon God. He taught me there is no surviving without God. Most of all, he taught me it's okay to question things. It's okay to be lost. It's ok to express your feelings to God.  I would advise anyone going through a tough time to check out Matt Bay's "Finding God in the Ruins" on YouVersion/Bible App.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

See, God had plans for me.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

April 2016, doors SWUNG open.

When it rained, it POURED.

God came through with full force. The miracles that have happened  in my life since April till this moment have been nothing short of God's relentless love. There is a God, and he loves me. Grace came through. Grace told me, "screw your achievements. Screw your qualifications. Screw your efforts." This is not platitude; It is not a cliche: God ALWAYS comes through. I am now on the path of achieving one of my biggest dreams. It's HARD but it is worth it. Most of all, I feel at ease.

2016 was the year I did the Whole 30 challenge and was pushed to my limits. I saw M twice this year after not seeing each other for years. I even had the time to take a vacation out of the country. I served in church for the first time ever. I remember first joining the presentation team and just mighty frustrated with how hard it was. In retrospect, everything this year seemed unnecessarily hard. I have since come to realize that only a few things give as much pleasure as the joy that comes from contributing to God's kingdom, no matter how little that contribution is.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

The above was the YouVersion verse of the year 2016; the bible verse that was shared, bookmarked, and highlighted most often by Bible App users worldwide in the year 2016, according to YouVersion. Indeed, if I had a verse of the year, it would be that. My plan on living intentionally was not completely foiled. I consistently blogged every most Sundays this year. That's great news for my constant journey to be  more disciplined. Further, I felt led to change the name of my blog to further reflect who I am. Despite a crazy and hectic schedule, I took the time to read for leisure, and went a step further by reviewing them on this blog in the Book of the Month series.  I gave my time more this year by serving and volunteering more for those around me who are less privileged. I lost my grandfather this year, but it was a life well lived and I'm grateful for the life he lived.

I can't talk about 2016 without talking about the election that shook many of us to our core. Like I mentioned here, I am enraged, furious that America did not elect her first female president. Yet when the story is being told in the future, I want my unborn children, niece(s) and nephew(s) to know that I stood on the right side of history; I stood with Her. I'm still constantly intrigued at everything that happened globally and politically this year. I read about what he whose name shall not be mentioned called Michelle Obama: an ape that belongs to Zimbabwe's forest. I just couldn't understand how one human being could have that much hate and vitriol in them. The election was devastating but it made me much more resolute to stand for what I believe in; and to always  embody the very values I profess. For a little while I was so uninspired by the political climate of the entire freaking world, that I forgot my principles. But the biggest lesson from that is when you fall, get right back up and keep fighting. I am more determined than ever to speak out for the poor, marginalized, voiceless, destitute, oppressed...because I'm confident that's what Jesus would do. I realize that I live in a bubble of my excessive privilege. Grateful as I may be for that, I am inclined to do more with the plenty God has bestowed me with.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.

To those who found this year challenging; those who mourned; the people who failed woefully; those who tried so hard and struggled so hard, yet have nothing to show for it; those who demonstrated faith, unwavering faith, yet had their prayers unanswered; the people who felt like if there is a God, he probably hates them; those who don't even know who God is; The ones that spent every minute of 2016 in hospitals; those who cried themselves to bed every night; I hope you find joy, peace, and laughter in the coming year.

I have written down specific goals for 2017. But I'm not naive; I know I need God more than ever. I'm excited and hopeful for 2017.

Bring it on 2017. my FAITH is STILL UNWAVERING.



P.S: sorry this was very long. You are the real MVP for reading all the way through :-)

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