How You Can Prepare For Your 2018 Part 1: Reflection

Reflection image
Photo Cred: Berveley Shiller Tumblr

 

Hi bAw family!

 

The New Year is LITERALLY around the corner. Can you believe it??! I feel like I blinked and 11 months swooshed by. It’s crazy how life can happen to you sometimes which is why I decided to do this post.

 

Just FYI: this blog post is a tad long but that’s because it’s more of a coaching post which will get you involved. It’s well worth it though I must say so just set aside an hour one of these days to run through it. You’ll be glad that you did.

 

In brief, this is what this post will help you to tackle:

  1. Reflecting on yourself – noting your strengths, weaknesses, gifts, talents and other qualities that you discovered in 2017. You will learn what these reveal about you.
  2. Reflecting on unhealthy habits/mind-sets – you will intentionally discover the blind spots that may be preventing you from progressing in life.
  3. Reflecting on your greatest victories – you will look at the things you achieved (big or small) to help you repeat or build on them going forward.
  4. Reflecting on God – you will reflect on how you experienced God in 2017 to equip you for the New Year.

 

Writing in your journal
Photo Cred: Ana Rosa Tumblr

 

As I’ve alluded to already, I’m going to put on my Coaching hat in this post, and hoping it helps just one person. I used to be that person that never planned for anything to be honest. I played victim all too well and at the end of a year, I would just go out and have some fun hoping that the New Year would magically be amazing. That I would finally achieve the things I hoped to in life without actually having to think about or change anything.

 

And honestly, it was because I didn’t know better. We’re hardly encouraged to be intentional about stepping into a new season of life, and into a new year, within our black communities. December is about playing – eating mounds of food; having party after party; and just really kicking back.

 

There’s nothing wrong with this at all. We certainly need to take it easy and rest our weary souls after a tough year. But when we set aside a little time to prepare for our new chapter in life, it makes the celebrations all the sweeter. Plus, we get to enter a new year with a clear mind and renewed, directed passion! For your year to be better, you need to plan for it. You wouldn’t travel to a foreign country without doing some form of preparation.

 

Road ahead
Photo Cred: Linxspiration

 

Today I’d like to share a brief exercise for you to do before all the crazy December celebrations come through. The most important step in preparing for a new year, is reflecting on what the current year was all about. You can learn much from it and also see what areas to target in the new season – whether relationships, career, habits, mind-sets, ministries, businesses, school etc.

 

Go ahead and get yourself a fresh journal or fresh writing pad, and find yourself a quiet spot and invite the Holy Spirit to help you with this exercise. He will point out the truth to some of the questions I will be asking you (John 16:13). You can choose to answer the below questions as they relate to your life generally or to specific parts like relationships/business/emotional health/physical fitness etc.

 

  1. Reflecting On Yourself

On your fresh piece of paper, make 5 columns and give them the headings: Strengths, Weaknesses, Gifts, Talents and Other. Under each column, write out the things you learnt about yourself in each of these areas – for the “Other” column you can choose an area not mentioned. Who does this reveal you to be?

You may have gone through this year or even your whole life without realizing who you really are. This little exercise is not going to give you the full picture, but it’s a great start. Understanding what you are made up of wakes you up to what you’re able to do and where you need improvement or external assistance. Seeing yourself right (not through foggy glasses), means that you’re better equipped to face the challenges and opportunities that a New Year brings.

This year, I learnt that one of my greatest gifts is the ability God has given me to see people right – to see the potential He has put inside of them that they often overlook. And to encourage them to pursue that relentlessly. One of my weaknesses is lack of discipline and follow-through. If I do not consciously work on tasks, I do not finish what I started. What about you?

 

Fall in love with taking care
Photo Cred: Soul Wellness

 

  1. Reflecting On Unhealthy Habits/Mind-sets

What unhealthy habits or mind-sets did you consistently engage in this year and what led to them? On the left-hand side of a new page/paper, list each habit or mind-set and next to each, jot down the things or people that led to them.

It could be habits or attitudes like eating too much junk; believing you have nothing of value to add to anyone; not getting enough rest etc. Unhealthy habits/mind-sets can block your progress in life. Doing this exercise will help you become aware of what to avoid or adjust in the New Year. You will keep repeating what you don’t acknowledge.

This year, one of the worst habits I engaged in was to blame other people for my unhappiness. Whether or not their behaviour was wrong, I was not taking responsibility over my own feelings and well-being. It meant that I was constantly open to other people’s manipulations because I was waiting for them to fix things or to do right. Next year, I need to seek to recognize unhealthy conduct from people and choose to set appropriate boundaries or speak up without sulking endlessly or expecting someone else to change.

 

We repeat what we don't repair
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

  1. Reflecting On Your Greatest Victories

On the left-hand side of a new page, list your greatest victories in 2017. Maybe you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro or you finally got your Driver’s License. Maybe you broke off an unhealthy relationship, or you started to serve in your local church. It doesn’t matter how small or big the milestone, it’s just one that fills you up with pride when you think of it.

Next to each victory item, jot down what you believe led to that specific victory – external sources; your skill/effort; opportunities that you grabbed; an attitude you adopted; people around you etc. Reflecting on your victories will reinforce to your mind that you can achieve your goals, and it will help you see how you can repeat or build on these for 2018.

One of my greatest victories for 2018 was stepping out of my comfort zone and hosting events for women I had never met but that God planted a passion in my heart for. This victory was a result of the help of amazing friends, family and strangers who gave of their time, money and skills to make them a blessing. Going forward, I am encouraged that what God has called me to do, He will fulfil and provide for.

 

Success is a series of small wins
Photo Cred: Instead Of Ashes

 

  1. Reflecting On God

This is probably the most important reflection theme. What did you learn about God this year through the good and terrible circumstances you faced? Do not limit yourself with this step. Let your pen free-flow on your page as the Holy Spirit reveals the truths you experienced about God and His character in 2017.

The most important thing we can do in our life is to see God right. He reveals His character through our experiences in life whether good or bad. This is why Romans 8:28 says that “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose”. God does something amazing with every experience we go through, if we would just allow Him to show us. Seeing God right through your past experiences, equips you for the new ones you will walk through.

One of the things I learnt about God in 2017 is that He is good even when I don’t feel it or see it (Psalm 145:9; 1 Chronicles 16:34; Nahum 1:7). His intrinsic nature is to allow things to shape up in a way that ultimately benefits me. I have learnt to wait on God rather than throw tantrums when things appear to be going pear-shaped because He always reveals His goodness to me. Going forward, this gives me such confidence in Him as my Father and Sovereign Lord over my life.

 

The coolest thing about God
Photo Cred: YouTube

 

Once you are done with your reflections, you will find that you see yourself, life, people and God through different eyes. You are no longer seeing through eyes that have been tainted by society or lies or fears and doubts. You are not seeing through your own desires or wishes. But, through the universal and omnipresent perspective of God who sees where you’ve come from, where you are and where He is taking you.

 

I hope you found this exercise useful. If you have any questions or would just like to share your experience of it, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email at theblackafricanwoman@gmail.com. You can also get a hold of me for personal coaching sessions if you feel stuck in a rut in your life or you desire healing and to see yourself the way God sees you. My desire is to help you live a more fulfilled and wholesome life as God intended.

 

Look out for the final instalment of posts for this year which will help you plan forward for the New Year. Thanks for reading as always!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

Me.jpg

 

Advertisements

Our Perfect Expectations Of Love

Perfect Couple 2
Photo Cred: Munaluchibride 

 

There is no such thing as a guy who is “ready for marriage”.

 

Well, this is the conclusion I have come to based on endless hours of reading up on relationships and marriage, and speaking to married folks that I respect and look up to.

 

For some reason, our generation has been convinced that before you marry a man, he has to have all his stuff together – this is a belief held by both females and males mind you. We believe that he needs to have a good job, a great house, big fat bank account, and a fabulous car to chauffer you in, plus an extra one for you of course!

 

For the super spiritual peeps, we also believe that he needs to be serving deeply within the church or his own personal ministry. He needs to be so deep in the word of God that you feel like you’re listening to Jesus when he is speaking. And and and. In a nutshell, we’re expecting the brother to pretty much be Jesus Christ Himself. These are honestly great and important things to seek in a partner but I do not believe they are deal breakers, especially because we ourselves are not this way as women.

 

What screws us up most
Photo Cred: Nice People Are Cool

 

The thing is, this is what I believed for quite a while. Because truth be told, what I desired was good and I wanted to be wise in my choice. I felt like unless you ticked all the boxes I had presented to God (not the ones God had revealed to me) about my ideal Christian man, I wasn’t even going to give you a second thought.

 

You were just going to waste my time and reverse all the “hard work” I had been putting in to become this amazing Christian girl. If I gave you a chance it would be a reflection on me that I don’t have worth – that I allow imperfection into my space (ouch!). It would suggest that I am not destined for a great and life-changing marriage. I couldn’t have that!

 

Then I purposefully engaged in some research on real-life relationships: from conversations with family and friends; to reading testimonies online. And I realized that the picture perfect pre-marriage state was actually not a thing – was not necessarily the experience of most married people.

 

I mean, I learnt that a man (even the most devoted and God-fearing) is not fully who he has been called to be by God when you meet him. He is not a finished product. He will make some really dumb choices. Lol. He will probably hurt you at several points. He will test you and the wonderful Christian qualities you’ve been racking up. And that is because no person is perfectly prepared for any stage of their life.

 

Rather, the stages of life perfect characteristics in a person as God leads them. We love to say that saying, “God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called”. But we love to say it in context of serving in ministry for God and we do not apply it in other areas of life including romantic relationships.

 

Expectations vs Reality
Photo Cred: Brian Tracy Online

 

Today, I’m speaking to my fellow perfectionist sisters who literally fear giving a man a chance because he is not a walking Bible character. The truth is that God does not bring you a perfect person to marry and because of that we may keep passing on our potential partners (talking to myself here as well). I think what has caused us to believe this deception is mainly social media. Social media influences our perceptions of relationships in the following two ways:

 

  1. Perfect Expectations – we are a social media generation. Social media has given individuals the power to be who they want the world to believe that they are. We post up only the best pictures that we have edited several times so that they are appealing. We post up our successes and victories and seldom acknowledge our struggles or fears. We have this whole “Stepford Wives” vibe thing to a tee in terms of how we represent our life.

 

The problem comes when we start to believe that this perfection applies to every aspect of our lives: Our food should arrive the way we see it perfectly depicted in food magazines; our outfits should sit on us the same way that they are displayed on the mannequin; and likewise, our potential hubby should possess all these wonderful qualities that we read about on Christian blog sites or according to men in the Bible that we are told to look up to (à la Joseph/Abraham etc).

 

The reality of life, however, is that we all have defects in our characters (Romans 3:23). The reality of life is that our backgrounds and circumstances have shaped our thinking and informed the behaviours that we are trying to overcome through Christ (Romans 7:15). The reality of life is that we are still a work in progress and still being sanctified. We have not attained perfection yet – yes, even us “good Christian girls”!

 

So when we meet a guy and are considering a relationship, we act like we are shopping in a catalogue which should only possess the “air-brushed” man for our consideration. Should any defects pop up, we convince ourselves that these are warning bells from God that this is not the right man for us. Just as you have your own hectic flaws within your lovely qualities, the man God chooses for you will have some qualities (not foundational to his character) that will drive you UP THE WALL! Let go of the perfect expectations.

 

Who hurt you
Photo Cred: We Love Soccer Online

 

  1. Perfect Comparisons – I love to read up about fellow Christians who inspire me and have come through the other side of tests and trials in Christ. Not that they are now perfect, but they have gone through seasons with God and their faith is being proved. These people naturally like to celebrate their love and to inspire and encourage others by sharing images of themselves with their spouse doing life. It’s so beautiful to see but the problem comes when I begin to convince myself that it should always look that way from the beginning. We convince ourselves that a man should already be kind; loving; patient; hands on in the home; willing to rub your feet when you’re exhausted etc from day one of marriage.

 

The truth is that these people we look up to were not always like that. They have worked hard with God and with one another to grow into the people God calls them to be. They have prayed earnestly through some really rough seasons. They have almost called it quits because they couldn’t believe that this was the same person they fell in love with.

 

But we only see the end results and compare our potential partners to years of experience, moulding, prayer and testing. The devil encourages a lot of comparison in today’s world which leaves us feeling so discontented. One of God’s 10 commandments is to not covet what belongs to another (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21) and that includes wishing you had someone who was like the husband of another woman.

 

God is so wise in this admonition. He knows that as humans we don’t get to see the full picture. We have not walked the exact journey that this couple has. We do not possess the same qualities that the wife had that He worked with to mould and build up the man to be the amazing husband that he is today. And so, when we are considering our own suitors we cannot compare them to finished products but to the standard Christ reveals to us personally.

 

God won’t give you a finished product because then what would be the point of marriage? Marriage is there to challenge us and expose our sinfulness and to change us to become more like Christ. It is there to ensure we fulfil our oath to God on this earth. That is the main aim of marriage. And so that means you need someone who needs challenging and exposing and who is sinful – just like you by the way. That may be the guy currently hollering at you that you’ve written off.

 

Have courage and be kind OG
Photo Cred: Etsy Online

 

In a nutshell, my fellow single sisters, I am just encouraging us to not be unnecessarily hard on and demanding of our brothers. Let us be kind as they shall have to be kind to us and our shortcomings. I am not saying take someone who is an obvious liar or adulterer or just someone with no basic regard for God’s law (which by the way is summed up as loving God wholly and others as yourself).

 

I am saying let us look for a man who is willing above all else. That is a good man. A man who has a teachable spirit and is willing to work with God and with you to become all God has called you both to be. Let us let go of our fantasies of Mr Perfect, and let us embrace the Mr Imperfect with whom we will have the pleasure of walking through the journey of life to grow to be all God has called us to be. This, I believe, is the true definition of love.

 

Because, at the end of the day we will experience more joy and fulfilment when we can stand back, watch that man care for his children; treat us like a Queen; and honour God in all he does because we were willing to go through the rough patches with him. I mean think about it, you would cherish the Chanel bag that you had to work and save up for despite how hard it was much more than the one someone hands over to you for nothing.

 

What have been some of your expectations of a spouse? How do you think we can attain the right balance in accepting a godly but human man as a husband? Let’s chat!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee