- February 07, 2021
- Denise Lee
A lot can change within a year. And I don’t quite know where to begin. For all of us, collectively as the human race, 2020 was a year of endless trials and let’s be honest, there really is no clear end in sight as we continue the fight against this pandemic. It’s the crushing reality of how broken this world really is. But even with this shared struggle, we have our own unseen battles. There’s a sense of isolation in our individual journeys. Everything compounded makes life a little harder for each of us. My life in 2020 crumbled like an old dilapidated building.
If you’ve been here long enough, you would know that I’ve always been very open about my life and experiences. So it’s no secret that 2020 was a shit show for me. Those who know me well would be able to tell you that I’m a pessimist. But when I turned 27, I thought that maybe things would stop being so turbulent. It was as though my world had finally clicked and I could enjoy some stability. For the first time, I was optimistic and hopeful. Oh, how wrong I was. Anyway, I’m not here to talk about my broken heart and journey of healing. I’ve already written about it extensively. Besides, we all know that I’ve had a pretty pathetic love life since the beginning of time and I have had zero luck in meeting decent men.
In retrospect, the last 7 months were instrumental in my growth. It wasn’t easy — it was terrible, in fact — but I think these life lessons are important. I’ve decided to share them with you today because they really helped me through a difficult season. And also, I am sentimental and will want to look back on this one day. So here are several things I learnt in year 27:
ALWAYS PUT GOD FIRST
No matter what the world says or how you feel, there is no compromise for this. Trust me, the moment you put anything (and I mean ANYTHING, even if it is a good thing) before God, your entire world will fall apart. My last relationship failed for many reasons — and we could have jolly well broken up anyway because honestly, he had a lot of undealt issues — but I should have known to walk away the moment he chose to stop going to church. Personally, I put him on a pedestal because I thought this was it and we were going to get married one day. God became a back burner. Even through my trauma, I felt like my ex was there for me a lot more than God was. The truth is I was so far gone, it was worrying. But God is gracious and saved me from a relationship that was bound to ruin me even though it was excruciating.
In the last 7 months, I have seen His faithfulness and goodness in my life through big and small things. He truly is who He says He is. And if you take time to get to know Him, and I mean really get to know Him, He will reveal to you so many facets of His character. Faithful, true, steadfast, gentle, loving, forgiving. I could go on and on. But will I still fall short? Definitely, because I am only human. But I know that He will pick me back up. I hope and pray that I will not lose sight of Him like that again. To think that I could have easily let go of God is scary. I cannot imagine a life without Him.
INDEPENDENCE IS A CHOICE
For a lot of my life, I’ve been waiting on people to do things with, whether it was family, friends or a significant other. So after the breakup, I decided to screw it and just go for my first boxing class at Tribe alone. I did not tell a soul about it until after my class ended. It was liberating. And I have been working out daily ever since. Yes, the most un-athletic person in human history — I’m exaggerating, obviously — now works out daily. The point here is not about me working out, which in itself is an achievement. But deciding to do things alone has made me a lot more resilient and secure in who I am. It no longer bothers me (well, most of the time anyway). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’ve never done things alone before. I lived alone for 2 years in the UK but the mindset shift was what changed me. I now do things for me, not because it’s expected of me or to just make someone happy.
BE OPEN TO TRY NEW THINGS
Being mindful about my decisions has allowed me to explore my options and created space for me to grow. Other than boxing, I also tried out Barre and Pilates. Guess what? I enjoy them so much! I have seen my body strengthen in ways I never thought possible and it’s such a confidence boost, knowing that my hard work is visible in the form of toned muscles. I’ve never felt fitter and stronger. Will I consider going hiking again though? Probably not cause there will always be things that I hate but I am willing to try something new at least once — as long as it’s reasonable, of course. Still won’t jump out of a plane even if you paid me to do it.
THE LITTLE THINGS ARE THE BIG THINGS
This isn’t a new revelation but I’ve come to really understand it in the last 7 months. We often think that we need a lot to be happy but the truth is, the big things are not always the things that make you fulfilled. Since I started freelancing, I’ve come to appreciate the little things a lot more. Like waking up after a good night’s rest — especially when I spent almost every night crying to sleep from July to September. I also enjoy watching my plants grow as I water them every morning, even though I don’t know what half of them are. There have been times where the highlight of my day was simply going to the supermarket and them having my favourite yoghurt in stock. I’m slowly unlearning many of the bad habits I’ve accumulated over the years — like how to stop rushing for the “next big thing”.
KNOW WHO TRULY LOVES YOU
Honestly, it is so easy to take our friends and family for granted. I’ve done it plenty of times. But after 2020, I have to say that the people who really do matter are the people that choose to go through hell and back with you. Family and friends who showed up when my world imploded have loved me so patiently and sacrificially. I was probably a pain to deal with during my period of grief but each took time to just show up and love on me. Community is so important. You don’t know what a difference it makes.
And of course, this applies to God. People can love you but people will disappoint you. It’s just something that I learnt to accept. But God will not disappoint you. The way He loves is unimaginable. We can never fathom how He loves us even when we are undeserving. So that is something I now hold on to when the days are hard and the nights are lonely.
So this is what 28 looks like.
Strength of a warrior, scars from the battle.
Confidence in knowing who I am and why I’m here.
Peace that comes in waves of endless grace.
Knowledge that the world will fail but He remains the same.
Whatever it is, He is faithful.
And His promises are true.
In the highlands and the heartache all the same.