While 2017 is well on its way, permit me to tell the truth about my 2016. It was a year of swimming in unknown waters. Imagine that after some time walking out your journey of life, you reach a deep and mysterious sea. It’s the next phase of your life, and you need to cross it to get to the other side. You can choose to avoid the sea entirely, but that means you continue to camp around the familiar. With this choice, you settle for the things you’ve known for years. The familiar faces, the familiar places, and the familiar ways of getting things done. Or, you can choose to jump into the sea, with all of its mysteries. The end result could be absolutely beautiful, or downright catastrophic. Either way, I chose to jump into the waters before me in 2016.
For one, I was living out my first year in marriage after being single and independent well into my twenties. I started a new job on the first work day of the year, after leaving a place where I had a strong reputation. On top of that, I was led out of my place of worship which, for a Christian, creates changes in other things. I personally authored none of these events, but I said yes to them all believing that God was at the helm. I gave the year a personal theme to reflect all the newness I was experiencing – ‘Sweet 16’ – then I jumped in and began to swim.
As the new kid on the block at work, I learned how such a compartmentalized area of life can affect you in so well rounded a manner – physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. I found myself in a work environment where I had no reputation, and didn’t know how things were done. I was vulnerable. In this state, I was either to be helped by a good Samaritan or to be taken for granted by a shark. While I met some good Samaritans, I also encountered the latter; and some of their decisions left me reeling in pain for a good portion of the year.
Settling into this environment, I found myself in an arduous battle to preserve the vision I have for my life. And for a large part of the year, it felt like I was losing. In my line of work, your reputation greatly matters. I encountered some sticky situations that I knew I needed to be vocal about, but at the same time, I didn’t want to paint myself as a nuisance in a new environment. I rightly turned into a fighter, but sometimes the lines blurred as to when and where I was to fight. For a moment I allowed my voice to go silent. ‘Sweet 16’ suddenly started to have a bitter taste to it. Was jumping into the waters a mistake?
But then, August hit. In my quiet time one morning, the word ‘Awaken’ came alive in my heart. In response, I wrote down a phrase of encouragement. “Awaken to your royalty. Take your place of kingship.” God was giving me the words I needed in the midst of my frustration. I realized that morning that I had allowed events of the year to affect me so deeply. So much so that my focus had gotten blurry, hence my silenced voice, and frequent anxiousness. My heart had been unsettled, and God needed to remind me who I was in Him: Royalty.
That day, His words inspired resolute action on my part at work. Sometimes, my actions went against the grain of the powers that be (respectfully so, I must add). They required boldness mixed with patience, and staying true to my heart’s vision. I learned in that season that circumstances in life may put you down, but you alone are the one who determines if you will stay down. I kept on with my course, trusting God all way and by the end of the year, I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
In December, I spent some quiet time gearing up for 2017. Through the creative ministry I lead with my husband called GodKulture, we have called 2017 a year of ‘Vision and Valor.’ I have modified the phrase for my personal life, given what I learned in 2016. For me, 2017 is a year ‘Clarity & Courage.’ Clarity to see and know the focus of the season…the big picture; and courage to keep moving towards it despite the arrows that may come attacking.