lifestyle · mental health

Risk and Resilience: My Experience of 2017

Once again, the past year has proven to be extraordinary. A lot has happened, not all of it good, but just like every year, I look back over the last 12 months and I’m utterly astonished at how much has changed, and how much I’ve grown.

This year has been full of change, both good and bad. I’ve been stretched in new ways and now, as is the same case every year, I feel like a completely different person to who I was 12 months ago.

My One Goal for 2017

This year I had one basic goal – to move out of home and support myself financially. Sounds easy enough, but there were a few other factors at play. Do it with:

  • A part time income
  • While managing chronic fatigue syndrome
  • In one of the most expensive cities in the world (rent alone was roughly 50% of my weekly income)
  • Without any big savings
  • Without any support from parents
  • If possible, ideally – without any debt – no personal loans, no credit cards, no borrowing.

To some, this might sound straightforward. But let me tell you it wasn’t. And now, 6 months later, I can honestly say it’s one of the biggest achievements of my life. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and it was possibly the biggest test of faith I’ve ever taken. I had so much self-doubt, so much worry day in, day out for the first few months. Pushing through that fear was extremely hard, but I’ve done it. I’ve climbed a tremendous hurdle to get here now.

At the same time that this was happening, my family were going through a crisis. I moved out because of problems we were having. One day I’ll write a post about that but now probably isn’t the right time.

Grown Up Stuff

I ended up moving three times this year. The first time, around April or May, I stayed with some friends while I got back on my feet. During that time my health improved, I worked overtime, saved for a bond, and eventually found a good place to move to in the area that fit my price range.

Then I started proper “adulting”. I read The Barefoot Investor and started to get my crap together. I made a tight but reasonable budget, and stuck to it. I worked hard and overall did a pretty good job supporting myself. I cooked meals every night, did the dishes, laundry, ironing, paid all the bills, and didn’t complain or make excuses. At the same time I was managing chronic health issues and processing a lot of things going on.

Fear Drives Faith

During the first few weeks and months that I was supporting myself, I’d never felt so genuinely afraid. What if I lost my job? I couldn’t move home. What if I ran out of money? What if my health grew worse again and I couldn’t pay the bills? What would I do then?

Eventually I began to relax as I applied common sense to the fear. Of course, if I really needed to, I could always borrow money and pay it back gradually. If I lost my job, I’d get another. I kept reminding myself, It will all be OK, and it was.

It was tough, but it was also beautiful. At the same time that I was so terrified of failure, I also felt powerfully alive. I was “treading my own path”, and it felt damn good. Every week I could feel my confidence growing, as  I started to gather a bit of momentum.

During that time my prayer life had never been stronger. I’d never felt so desperately in need for God’s help before. Prayer was not just pointless platitudes, asking God to give me my Christmas wish list. I was genuinely afraid for my safety, and yet in that dark place, in the quiet of the evenings, I found great comfort in God’s promises. If God loved me enough to send Jesus, how would he not take care of everything else? (Romans 8:32).

I had a lot to process and work through, and over the weeks and months I could see the change.

6 Months In

And today, after 6 months of storms and struggle, I’m finishing 2017 a much stronger person, and even more dead set focussed on the few things in life that really matter – my faith in Jesus, my purpose, and relationships.

My emotional health has improved a lot too. This journey has made me aware that I’m more capable than I give myself credit for. Low self-worth is not as much of a problem any more. Depression and anxiety are no longer normal for me. They turn up every now and then, but they don’t take centre stage.

I have many rough days (some very rough), but overall, I love my life. I am usually pretty happy. I am blessed to be where I’m at. I like the person that I am and the person that I’m becoming. I’m hopeful and confident that whatever comes, God will be there with me every step of the way.

2018

I won’t lie, I want next year to be different. This year was full of struggle and I don’t want next year to be the same. Right now, I really have no plans for next year, and it terrifies me sometimes. But I know that whatever happens, I’ll handle it. I’ll handle it, because “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

One day at a time, through the pain, the tears, the hurt and the worry, I will keep moving forward. I long for a better day, but even if it is waiting until heaven, I will wait.

I will do everything in my power to make next year even better. I will try new things, I will take risks, challenge myself, and keep stepping forward one day at a time. Whatever happens, I’ll be OK.

Whatever this year has held for you, none of it is meaningless. God can take the worst situation and use it for good. He is worth trusting – with your fear, worry, doubt, sadness. All of it can be unravelled and your joy can be made new.

I hope that in this new year, you are able to keep taking steps forward, and that 2018 is a blessing for you.

Carlin


Grace for Failures is the blog of Carlin Doyle, to encourage and inspire those who have gotten life wrong for a long time, and want to try and do things a little differently. Click here for more info, and here for more posts.

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