“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
- Maya Angelou
So, we are almost two weeks into the New Year already. Last week we talked about some of the lessons I learned in 2015. Trusting God, loving myself, being true to myself and perseverance. I asked you to reflect on your year and identify some of the lessons you learned. I hope you’ve done your homework, because the test is right around the corner!
Oh, you didn’t know that you were going to be tested? Well let me be the first to break it to you. Life will show up in 2016. You will be tested! There will be pop quizzes filled with multiple choice, true or false and even a few essay questions. Are you ready? If not, don’t fret, I have a simple study guide for you.
If you done your homework, you will have already identified some of the lessons you learned and with that awareness comes responsibility. It’s one thing to learn the lesson but a totally different thing to apply it. What’s the use having all this information if you’re not going to use it to navigate through life better? It’s pointless, right?
I’ll be the first to admit that I have had to learn the same lesson over and over and over again. I’m pretty stubborn. I think I know it all and I have trouble accepting that some things are just not good for me. So I find myself banging my head against the same wall and then wondering why the hell it hurts so much. So I totally understand that sometimes it takes a while before you really start living responsibly.
It took me over a decade to actually stop and take stock of my life. To take some time out to really soul search. To find out who I am, who I want to be and what I want out of life. Up until then it was a steady string of epic failures, toxic relationships, unhealthy friendships and all manner of mistakes.
But mistakes are normal. Mistakes are human. Mistakes are usually the catalyst for change. The problem occurs when we keep making the same mistakes over and over again without learning the lessons. And that was me. I made the same mistakes over and over again. Moving from one relationship to the next, allowing people to mistreat me, sacrificing my spiritual wellness for worldly satisfaction. This was my cycle until I finally allowed myself to learn from all the mistakes of my past.
And now that I know better, it’s my responsibility to do better.
For the last month we have seen posts all over social media talking about this New Year. The “new year, new me” trend was most certainly popping. But the truth of the matter is that no amount of status updates will change your life. No matter how many times you say that “this is your year” those words alone will not make a difference.
Change only manifests when changes are made. An internal shift must take place if you are going to see any outward signs progress. Sadly, many of us want the progress without the sacrifice. We want the reward without the work. But it doesn’t happen that way. You get what you give, so if you don’t like what you have been getting take a look at what you have been giving. I can just about promise you that the problem lies in the latter.
There have been several times that I have looked at my life and asked myself “how did I end up here?” I’m 29, soon to be divorced with three sons to raise. Not exactly how I envisioned things panning out. But when I sit in solitude I see exactly how I ended up here. I look at the choices I’ve made, the mistakes I’ve repeated and the advice I ignored. And in doing so I can clearly see the moments where I should have made better decisions, the opportunities that I squandered and the risks that I took. I see it all and acknowledge how each decision I have ever made has brought me to this reality.
For a while I used to beat myself up for those decisions, feeling as if I had completely ruined my life. But I had to give myself a break and remember that I was making decisions based on my spiritual condition. My decision making process was rooted in negativity. Fueled by things like fear, insecurity and self-doubt. I was incapable of making better decisions, I done all that I knew how to do.
But thank God there is hope! There is hope because finally after years of denial, I am LEARNING the lessons. Lessons that will carry me through this year and the years to come. Lessons that will change my reality. Lessons that will save my life.
I shared some of my 2015 lessons in a vlog a week ago (you can watch it here) but the tests are still on the way. Soon enough I will be confronted with situations that challenge me to my core and I will have to choose…either I do what I always done and get what I always got…or I do better because now I know better.
What are you going to choose for 2016? The same ol same ol…or are you going to take a risk and try something new. Are you going to continue to complain about your situation or actually take positive steps to getting out of it? Will you trust God with your whole life this year? Or are you only going to give him the parts that you are not afraid to let go of? Will you love yourself enough to give yourself the best? Or will you continue to settle for mediocre? Will you learn the lessons or repeat the mistakes?
The choice is yours and the options are endless but do not be misled, the test is coming my loves! But be assured that you already have everything you need to pass. Just take the lessons and use them.
Be strong…be courageous…BE GREAT!