Sometime around end of November, I tried to recall what had happened to my 2014 when I was hit with a realization: whoa, a lot of things happened this year. No kidding.
I think the thing about 2014 for me, is how a huge chunk of the year seemed to go by in a blur. The obvious culprit for this feeling this is work, as it really ate a lot of my time, but I think other than that, there were really so many things that happened this year that it was almost overwhelming.
When 2014 started, I tried to make it a habit of tweeting at least three joyful things that happened to me in that day, using my 2014 hashtag, #takedelight. I think I lasted doing that daily up until April, where I stopped, and then started somewhere else again, and then stopped again. It was an attempt to remember and be grateful everyday, which was a fun and hard exercise. I wished I had kept at it, but even if I didn’t get to do it everyday for the year, thinking about it reminds me of what my 2014 was supposed to be: a year of delight.
And this is why I like year-end recaps, because it gives me a chance to go through the year one more time. I suppose writing this would have been easier if I had managed to keep at the daily #takedelight things, but even if things weren’t documented, it didn’t mean it didn’t happen. To me, anyway.
This 2014 recap is a lot less…I don’t know, emotional (or heartbroken, really), than 2013, but like I said, there’s a lot in 2014 that happened that I didn’t really expect. And in the spirit of that daily project I never got to finish, I’m calling this 2014 recap 14 Joyful Things About 2014. :)
- I think the biggest and most important joyful thing that happened to me this year is doing the 33-Day Consecration to Jesus through Mary retreat.
I heard about this through a friend last year, but because I wasn’t really a Marian devotee back then, I didn’t think about it much. Then came January and my friend encouraged us all to do it. I ordered the book, thinking it would take a month to arrive, but it arrived in 2 weeks, just in time to start the retreat on the next suggested date. This led to my first consecration date on March 25, which was a pretty significant date before but because of this consecration, is now significant in a different way. Then I did it again with our community, and I finished on December 8, which, again was another significant date for me in 2013. I don’t think these are coincidences, really, but a way of Mama Mary telling me that she’s got me, and she has me under her care, so I need not be afraid. My friend said that to prepare for miracles when we do this consecration, and you know what? She’s right. :) Ave Maria.
- Travel, as always. I think there was one time early this year when I realized that I seemed to be going places almost every month. That kind of stopped around May, but there were still a lot of places I went to, near and far, this year. There’s Cagayan de Oro in February (that I never got to blog about!), then Calaguas in March for my birthday, a part of Quezon that I haven’t been to in April, and then Pangasinan in September. On the international front, I went to Japan in May, and Thailand and Cambodia (will blog about Siem Reap soon!) in October. I almost went to Sagada this December but we scrapped it because of some changes that was happening in our lives, but that just meant I’ll probably go there next year. Here’s to more places in 2015!
- I released my first book. Wohoo. As my thesismate told me last night: you are now an AUTHOR. Sometimes, it still feels a bit surreal. :) I’ve always been so scared to send the things I write for editing, and releasing them out into the wild because they’re my babies, you know? But I realized that there’s really nothing to be afraid of, and it’s actually fun. And this is a fulfillment of all those dreams since I was a kid. :) I realized that this thing is something that I wouldn’t mind doing for my entire life, on top of speaking about books, and just doing wordy stuff. Because man, I really love words.
- New work. I was pretty much lost in transition the latter half of the year because I applied for a new role at the office and got it. This pretty much ate up most of my time, and most of my thoughts! It’s been challenging and interesting being where I am, and I find that whenever I am challenged, I pray more, and I seek His will more. Heh. Overall, though, I think this new job really, really taught me about choosing joy, about seeking joy, and knowing where my joy is coming from.
- Onto more new things, except this isn’t a thing. Perhaps of all the newness this year, my favorite, favorite, favorite one will be my nephew, Apollo Rafael.
I really don’t know how babies do it, but one look at his sleeping (or awake) face and all my stress goes away. I would sit in their room and play with him, not realizing that I had spent so much time with him already, but also not minding that. This little boy has brought so much joy in our house that I am so, so, so excited to see him grow up. Legit Tita of Manila here, yo. :P
- Beloved, Brave, Beautiful, Worthy.
There were many remnants of 2013 that kind of hung on at the start of 2014, so much that I thought that those things that plagued me at the end of 2013 was going to go on. There was one particular instance where I had to go to this event and a part of me really didn’t want to go, only because there were some things I learned that I didn’t know if I can handle. (Ugh, cryptic, but bear with me here) I talked about this to friend, who told me:
I totally get how you feel about running away and feeling nervous and the whole shebang of emotions that may or may not come spilling through once you face him. But when I faced it – and we all must; to face it is to finally set ourselves free from the prison in our head and to set us free from fear — I found that I could name myself. So I went into that room carrying the name BELOVED. WORTHY. BEAUTIFUL. BRAVE. STRONG. BLESSED. CONQUEROR. GAME CHANGER. And I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t afraid.
But when I let the calm take over, and I let those names roar loudly from within me, I just got the sense that I would be okay. That I would survive the night with my self-esteem intact.
I believe the same for you.
On that day, I named myself BELOVED, BRAVE, BEAUTIFUL, and WORTHY, and my friend was right – in the end, it all turned out okay. Not just on that day, but in the following days after that, and up until this day. I carry these names with pride and boldness, because I am His, and no one can take that away from me. :)
- 2014 was a year of dreams coming true because in May, at my first time to attend the TEACH Expo for Cornerstone, I was asked to share onstage for the first talk. A little background – it had been a tiny, YFC dream of mine to give a talk or share onstage at any community event. Of course, I kind of put all of that on hold when I became inactive, and I didn’t really think about it anymore when I went back because I didn’t think it would happen, you know? But when it finally did, I realized several things: it’s nerve-wracking, it made me feel so exposed and vulnerable and partly uncomfortable but it was really, really good knowing that God used you to share His message. :)
My favorite part of this, really is when Tito Joe, the speaker for the talk, tells me, “Tina, you’re healed.” :) Which brings me to the next item…
- In 2014, I experienced healing. To say that there was a lot in 2013 that kind of scarred me is an understatement – whenever I read some of my older posts here, I kind of cringe at how much subtext they contain. Haha! But really, in 2014, I experienced the kind of healing that only God can give, and I learned how to help in this healing. Perhaps I will blog about it more eventually, but my most important takeaway for this year about my own healing is that everything that happens in your life is a way of God’s healing, if you surrender it to Him. We cannot heal ourselves on our own – we need our friends and family, and we need God, most of all. In 2014, there were times when I got frustrated because I thought that I would never ever get over some things, but thank goodness God is patient. And that Mama Mary is around to help untangle the knots. It is true when they say that one day, you will just wake up and know that it is all okay…but getting to that one day is the more interesting journey. :)
- Part of that healing thing consisted of learning how to wish love and joy on the source of your pain. I think this is one of my most favorite lessons in 2014 that I learned at the start of the year but only really got to sincerely say by end of the year. This taught me a lot about humility, and patience, and how we’re all connected to each other, in the sense that wishing love and joy on someone who hurt us is also the same as wishing love and joy on ourselves, because the more we hold onto our anger, the more we hurt ourselves. It took me a while, but I knew it was real when I felt peace as I wrote the line, I wish you joy and love, always, in a letter I gave to someone last Christmas. And it was as if I was finishing a book with a very satisfying ending. :)
- I think 2014 would be the year where I had probably the most colorful friendships. If in 2013 I found my core people, in 2014, it seemed like the bonds with those core people were tested, somewhat, and apparently there was still more room to have more core people. :) This is the year that I spent a lot of time with my SFC household and our chapter, as well as people outside of our chapter. The year that I spent time with my old teammates who have mostly left the company. This is the year where I met up with some college friends to attend a wedding, and realized that we were all so different now, but we all still know each other. This is the year where I met new friends who helped us get a bus when we missed ours while in a foreign country. This is the year where I hardly spent time with my book club friends, and realized how much they mean to me in the end. 2014 is the year where I lost friends, and found friends, and regained friends I thought I lost. Through it all, this still proves true: I am surrounded by the most wonderful people. :)
- This needs to be mentioned in a separate item, because as I was going through my 2014 planner, I realized how my lower household (aka prayer group in SFC) was such a source of joy for me this year. I had always been challenged with getting my household together, but this year I told myself that my only job is to love them, and I will entrust everything else about them to God. Lo and behold, by the end of the year, my small household of three now has, well, enough for us to be called a proper SFC unit.
I love these girls, and I am so, so honored to be asked to take care of them. Here’s to finally having complete attendance in one household, soon. :)
- Forgiveness. I ended 2013 with thoughts of forgiveness. I prayed a lot about it this year – the grace to forgive others, to ask for forgiveness, and perhaps most of all, to forgive myself. I prayed that I would be able to forgive these people who hurt me, to forgive myself for not being a good person, and to maybe ask forgiveness…but the last I didn’t want to put too much hopes on. They say forgiveness starts with yourself, right? I prayed for forgiveness and to accept the fact that maybe I would never be able to see that other person that I want to seek forgiveness from, and to just learn to live with grace knowing that I was still forgiven because Jesus had paid for the price. But like what I mentioned in a previous post, there is so much grace in being able to forgive and ask forgiveness with the other party face to face. I am so, so grateful that 2014 will end without that burden on my shoulders. Hallelujah.
- Intentionality, for the third time. It’s kind of amazing how every year since 2012, I’ve written something about intentionality, but never really wrote a whole post about it. I think it’s because my definition of intentionality changes every year, stretching from the romantic kind of intentionality, to the heartbroken kind, and this year, to the overall life intentionality thing. I say this because in 2014, I learned that to be intentional means living in the moment. Don’t mistake it to the YOLO mentality, no. I learned that intentionality means living in the moment, not dwelling on the mistakes in the past and what if’s in the future because God has it all under control. If I may quote myself, early this year:
Being intentional means that you set off with pure intentions and you are ready to take responsibility for your actions based on what is happening in the present – knowing that the past is in the past and you are redeemed, and the future may be scary but it is secure, because God is faithful.
- And finally, 2014 is the year where I learned to take leaps of faith. A lot of what had happened to me this year was because of those tiny leaps of faith that I took, which led me to where I am now. Taking those leaps taught me that things aren’t always as scary or hard, and it also showed me some of the desires that are in my heart. These leaps of faith taught me that sometimes it’s not about taking that leap, but the waiting to take it, and the endurance we build when we wait on God’s timing. I’m really learning what having faith really means. It’s one thing to know that God is faithful, but it’s an entirely different thing to trust that fact, and to be faithful to Him as well, especially in the smaller things. I believe I will learn more about this in the coming year, and I know it won’t be easy, but as that good friend from #6 said, it wouldn’t be a leap of faith if there was no measure of risk. :)
Well getting those 14 things together was kind of hard. Heh. And this is where I end the post with my hashtag for 2014, #takedelight. It’s been an interesting year, but I say that a lot. What this list told me right now, as I am wrapping this up, is that despite a big chunk of the year going by in a blur, I was never out of God’s sight. I was never out of Mama Mary’s maternal care. All the good and the bad always brought me back to the one line that I held onto in this year of delight:
Joy and delight are not happy feelings: they are the choices to let love win. (Hilary Yancey)
Looking back, I find that the times I felt most joyful and delighted were the days where I let love win. They were on days when I chose to believe that God has called whatever it is in my life good, to believe that even in the midst of sadness, and to trust that all that is happening in my life is from the God who has created this world, and has called me His.
So thank you – to 2014, to the people who were a part of this year, to all the experiences, to Mama Mary who never stopped praying for me, and to God who made all this possible. 2014 has been indeed a year of delight, and I am grateful. :)
I can’t wait to witness God’s faithfulness even more in the following year. See you soon, 2015. :)