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Growing up, celebrating the New Year means counting down the days to my birthday. It has always been a time for me to ponder and evaluate myself, the time where I learned to come up with notes filled with life goals and plans for the coming year. As self-serving as it sounds, I love the idea of celebrating my birthday - be it in the confinement of my simple home and loving family, somewhere out of the usual places I visit, or having a grand gathering with family and friends. Celebrating January 6 means so much to me because it is my expression of gratitude and love toward the borrowed time God has gifted me in this world. And so no matter how beautiful and tough every year went by, my birthdays continue to serve as a reminder for me to keep seeking for what is more important and valuable, something more eternal than the temporal and earthly things.
I wrote about the first half of my 2019 here and as the year finished, I have come to realize that it was indeed a year of continuous growth and acceptance. I have learned to accept myself - flaws included. I realized that there were a lot of things I have not completely healed from; situations I haven't fully grasped and accepted; expectations I built upon myself that led to frustration and heartaches; emotions and thoughts I have hidden deep down that I failed to give up to God. I realized that in the process of acquiring such trivial things, I have hurt a lot of people, affected life decisions, and built a wall around me. 

The great thing about realizing all these things about myself is the realization that in all these shortcomings and voids, God has remained merciful and true in every aspect of my life. In the midst of my weakness, God's strength has become more visible and true in my life. As months went by, rather than complaining and finding faults and blame on situations, myself and people, I have learned to process my thoughts and judgments without having to make rash emotional decisions that I would later on regret.
As I turned 31 and began looking back at how I lived the rest of 2019, I came to realize that each and every single trial and triumph had to happen in order to mold my character and the true definition of relying on and building a relationship with God. This year has taught me to enjoy the art of spending time with myself, whether in complete rest and silence or keeping myself busy. In doing so, I've become more aware of my attitude and how I treat people, things, and situations around me. When you are self-aware, you become more considerate of other people and their situations; you tend to spend more time processing how you really feel about someone or something without having to hurt anyone and even yourself to feel vindicated; you get to go way past your pain and realize that it is a momentary season that everyone goes through on a daily basis; you become more secure and accepting - to both yourself and the people around you.
I also realized that growth comes with a lot of outgrowing, this could be related to both preferences, habits, and relationships. I used to think that outgrowing is a bad thing but it's actually a sign of progress; how can we claim to grow if we have been doing the same things, acting in the same manner, and forcing ourselves to people? These are things that spoke well to me this year. Outgrowing means having to shed a few layers of yourself in order to fully realize who you are and what you can still grow to be.
Lastly, one of the biggest learnings that I had last year was to take a step back and have a good look at the bigger picture. As cliche as it might sound, I regret rolling my eyes to this saying when I was younger for it is indeed true. I have always been the impulsive, in-the-moment kind of person and it didn't sit well with me every time I was asked to 'wait', 'hold on', or 'calm down'. There were a lot of times in my life that this impatient and hot-headed personality has put me at the edge of the cliff and it was too late for me to take back the words and actions I gave out. It took me a while to realize that I had to outgrow this. When we learn to step back and wait, we get to process more and decipher our next approach to any situation without having to regret anything afterward. When we step back, we learn that we're not the only ones struggling, that there are a whole lot of people who are hurting and also figuring things out for themselves. When we step back in silence, we eventually realize what's worth and not worth it; we get to see that there are better ways to approach our situation.
I feel very grateful to be able to wake up and say that I am 31! As of this writing, I have learned that there is always a choice in life - and it's always a goal to press on, move forward, and opt for the better choice. We can choose to preoccupy ourselves with past hurts and grief, it's always easier to mull over things we do not have and compare ourselves to others in the process, and yes, it will always be a struggle to choose to ignore the negative things we hear and experience. At this age, society would expect me to have children, to have a house of my own and a blossoming career, to have an established bank account and to have things figured out. But it is a constant and daily choice for me to remind myself of the blessings that are before me, to focus on what is eternal and intangible because our time here on earth is nothing but borrowed; none of these material things, social stature, and accomplishments would come with us when it's our time to leave this world. In the end, we are all but souls, operating by grace that was bought by a precious price.

7But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in a Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:7-14

2019 was pruning year for me and it was indeed painful because nothing seemed to go my way. It took some time to understand what it really meant to surrender your whole life to Christ, it was easier to rely on gutfeel and chances only to, later on, realize its consequences and defeats. But through all the stages and seasons that I had to go through, God was able to give my heart and soul peace and assurance enough to go through every day, come what may, and just keep living.

To you who read through until the end, I hope that you're doing well. If you are going through some sort of season in your life, I pray that this little gesture of sharing my testimony and lessons from last year would be able to encourage you to go through life and see things from a broader perspective.

Cling unto hope and just keep living 💟

Happy New Year!


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