2015 has been a year for the history books. It has been filled with family fun (and a little drama, of course), new friendships, spiritual growth, and self-discovery. As I reflect on the lessons that have really stuck with me this year, my mind keeps coming back to these things:
1. Getting rid of clutter is like a breath of fresh air. Keeping only what is useful or brings joy has revolutionized the way that I look at my possessions. I do not know how many bags of stuff we donated to charity this year, but it was a whole lot. Freeing my home of excess has made it so much easier to keep it clean. It is never spotless for longer than five minutes (and only every once in a while), but we are able to pick up and make it presentable very quickly. The closets only take a few minutes to put back in order, as opposed to hours. Plus, less clutter amounts to less stress for me, and that is a blessing for all who live here, if you know what I mean. 🙂
Now, the kids’ bedrooms…those are an entirely different ball of wax…(I mostly resort to keeping their doors closed.)
2. You should never get rid of your husband’s stuff without asking him first, especially if he is the sentimental type. Don’t ask me how I know that.
3. Making your bed every morning is a simple way to start the day off on the right foot. I started doing this a few months ago, and it has made a huge difference for me.
On the days where I fail to complete this simple task, I feel noticeably more stressed. Not only that, but I do not want to go into my bedroom at all if the bed is unmade. For me, a relaxing bedroom starts with a tidy bed. I had no idea that such a simple thing could make me feel so much more at ease.
4. America was founded on a belief in God. We took a family trip to Washington DC over the summer, and I loved seeing history come alive. It was one of my favorite vacations ever.
I was especially struck by how religious our founding fathers were, and how much they relied on the hand of God in fighting for and establishing this free nation. I would dare say that winning the Revolutionary War was largely due to divine intervention, as the odds of such a feat were minuscule at best.
I especially love this quote that is engraved upon the wall of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial:
“Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?” Profound.
As I left our nation’s capital, I did so with great respect and appreciation for the courage and foresight of our forefathers. I also felt a deep sadness because God, who was integral in the establishment of this country, is now being pushed aside by far too many people, especially in the public square.
The words of The Pledge of Allegiance continue to echo in my ears: “One nation under God…” It breaks my heart that some Americans no longer see it that way.
5. Sometimes stepping away from social media is the perfect prescription for finding joy in your own circumstances. After a month-long break, a big part of me wanted to sign off for good. I found it much easier to abstain than to moderate, and I did not really miss it at all after the first couple of days. It was actually freeing and energizing in a way that I had not anticipated. I was no longer caught up in everybody else’s lives, which made it easier for me to focus on enjoying my own. I’m not ready to give it up completely, largely because of this blog, but I did take the social media apps (except Instagram) off my phone. That has been a huge help in controlling the amount of time that I spend mindlessly scrolling through feeds. And don’t be surprised to see me take a few weeks off in 2016, as well. I’m already looking forward to it.
6. Understanding yourself sometimes requires that you let go of the person you want to be and accept the person that you are. Self-discovery has been a huge theme of this past year for me. I have felt a deep and pressing need to better understand myself as I have worked to nail down my message and purpose as a blogger and as an individual. That process has required me to let go of some ideas that I had about myself that, when looked at with a critical eye, turned out to be more wishful thinking than reality – a process that has been both difficult and freeing. Through it all, I have realized that my quest for personal growth starts right where I am- with my weaknesses that need overcoming, as well as my strengths that will carry me through.
7. When the storms of faith come (and 2015 was the stormiest year that I can recall), the best place to look for clarity is up. I know of no better person than God to turn to for answers about faith. The loud (and sometimes convincing) voices on the Internet and social media will almost certainly overpower the still, small voice of the spirit if you allow them to do so.
What things did you take away from 2015 in your own life? Tell us in the comments below.