(Check out my previous 27 Life Lessons too)
I learned a lot of incredible things this year, such as:
- I can’t blame myself for not loving someone (romantically) and I can’t blame another for not loving me.
- If I am in the midst of a trial I can pray to God, “teach it to me, or take it from me.”
- Networking covereth a multitude of sins.
But this year, my main lesson was one that has not just impacted a portion of my life, but has been a beautiful blanket that, at the end of every single day, has soothed a stress and warmed the weariness.
On my birth-week last year, a dear friend of mine, Fred Hockenjos, challenged me to write two ways I saw the hand of God in my life that day.
Two ways, every day–and I never missed.
Some days when I was feeling selfish, it was hard. But most days it was hard to keep it to just two ways! And then some days I couldn’t even pick one way because I felt as if God was carrying every moment of my day.
It wasn’t that my life was changed, but my perspective. Capriciously concocted conversations became orderly orchestrated opportunities. Serendipitous situations to serve changed into calculated chances to care. “For one brief moment, heaven’s view appear[ed] before my gaze” (Testimony, hymns, p. 137).
—If you don’t like numbers, skip this part—
I did a statistical word analysis of how the content my journaling has changed as a result of this challenge (since I type my journal, this was pretty simple). My sporadicly kept 2007-2012 journal has 219 pages using 93,998 unique words. My 2013 journal has 154 pages and uses 6,945 unique words. I compared words that are important to me and their usage per (single spaced) page.
What words would you expect to find more often and less often?
I was very surprised.
Words like “happy,” “hope,” and “love” have remained a constant 1-2 times per page in both the ’07-’12 and ’13 with an equal usage. Seemed normal.
“God” went from less than 1x per page in the ’07-’12 to over 6x per page in the ’13 journal. Now since I am talking about ‘how I saw the hand of God,’ that makes sense.
BUT, here is where things became VERY interesting.
The word “grateful” was where I was shocked. I went from using that word once every other page to 4 times per page. FOUR! Basically, I expressed gratitude seven times more often. From 24 times per year to 582 times in 2013–even though I wasn’t ‘supposed’ to write things for which I was grateful.
And what’s more interesting is that the words “I” and “me” were used 4,128 times LESS in the 2013 journal.
—are you still there?…numbers are over—
Basically, by looking for the hand of God, I saw that the things worth recording have so little to do with me!
So what did I write about? Usually it was opportunities to serve or people who served me. That is how I saw the hand of God. I felt whole by giving and felt supported by receiving–every single day.
Isaiah spoke the truth when he spoke for Christ, “Even to your old age I am he…[who] will carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry , and will deliver you” (Isaiah 46:4).
And seeing how God carries me has filled me with such overwhelming gratitude (maybe not to seventy times seven the gratitude, but at least seven times).
So what is my lesson that the last 365 days have taught me?
It is this:
If you want to see the hand of God, look. If you want to hear the voice of God, listen. If you want to feel the love of God, serve.