Engagement, marriage, new work, drastically different commitments, and a set up for a big future – 2018 was really a picture of life when everything changes.
I am writing this blog in week 51 out of 52 weeks in the year. Can you believe it’s already been another year? It can seem at times when all you have to do is blink and bam, you’re having to remember which number you’re supposed to write down in those date boxes again. A new year brings the hope of something new, whilst the end of the old year tails out on a somewhat sombre, reflective tone, as you remember the year that was.
For me, this year brought so many different new things and significant shifts, it was hard to keep up. It really was a year summed up by, “When Everything Changes”, or at least it will be when Universal approaches me for the working title of the movie they’re doing on my year this year.
But yes really to all the changes that took place in my life in 2018. I pretty much ticked off all the big milestones you’d ever want to do at the same time, and then some. This year:
- I got engaged
- I got married
- I turned 30
- I got a new job
- I had my responsibility and role increase at the same job
- I traveled to a country I’d never been to before
- I finished up at a church I had been going to and leading at for 15 years
- I made and deepened a whole bunch of new friendships this year
- I got more involved in my new church
- I got a hot new roomie (see #2)
- I became a dog owner
- My site is now approaching 500,000 visitors
…and that’s just a few of the things that happened this year.
Just for the record, this year has been an absolutely great year. It’s a far cry from the year I had last year. My wife is a wonderful woman, my dog is a crazy ball of happiness, my new job has been working out very well, New Zealand is gorgeous, and I feel like I’ve been set up for a lot of great things in the future.
I know I could easily sit here and tell you how much better my life is than yours at the moment, but really, there’s some serious work, effort, thought, and unfamiliarity that comes along when everything changes. It’s been great, but it’s been a real twisting journey with multiple things to consider at every turn.
And saying goodbye to some old commitments and ways of life wasn’t necessarily easily. My old normal is gone, and my new normal looks completely different. Whilst exciting and definitely the right step, everything looks new, and it really is uncharted water what happens from here. It was sad to say goodbye to a few of my past commitments in order to make room for some greater ones ahead.
It’s been a year of prominence. Things coming to fruition. Old things being replaced. And really, for anything new, old things do have to be replaced. As good as things were, as influential as the opportunities I have had in the past, as valid and rewarding as my previous work has been, as free and open as I maybe once was in certain ways, there really is much more I am now poised to be able to achieve in 2019 and onwards.
30 is a pretty prominent age. It sucks that so many people still feel like they’re a child by the time they hit 30 – still directionless, still wondering who they are, still trying to find regular routine and a place to call home – if you’ve done your 20s well, it really is a time of pronounced influence and to really ramp up the contribution to society. I look forward to being able to share my life in a more targeted and established manner based on all the experiences I’ve gone through, and to continue on addressing my Big 4 in everything I do (relationships, people finding purpose, Western poverty, and Christian leaders).
I think what’s really amazing about change, any change really, good or bad, certain or uncertain, happy or not sure about being happy, is that it takes a lot of it to make anything happen in life. One thing I really didn’t enjoy about change this year was that I needed to buy a new engine for my car. In my time of being sick, I had failed to look after my car properly, and it really was a process of trying to get it going. Man, if you’ve had car or any sort of maintenance issue, you’d know exactly how many moving parts those things have, and all it takes is one of them to be out of line to throw everything into jeopardy. And then once you’ve fixed one, you find the next little thing along. And the next. And the next. When you consider an engine is made of 30,000 little parts, you really get an appreciation for just how big a “little part” really is.
The human body is the same. Marriage is the same. Relationships are the same. My life is the same. It really was a year of remembering how many little changes need to happen for anything significant to ever take place.
And really, it’s amazing that anything of note ever happens at all. I wonder if you’ve thought about or appreciated just how many little things need to happen, how many tiny things needed to have taken place, for you to be the person you are today. If that person had said yes instead of no, if you hadn’t watched episode 13 on Tuesday of that week when you were 14 years old, if you hadn’t bumped into that person at the shop, if you hadn’t stopped for petrol last Friday, if you hadn’t been born into that family, if you hadn’t have made those friends, if you hadn’t have studied that course. Even your daily commute to work is multiple thousand people making multiple thousand little decisions based on multiple thousand little factors, and all of you still make it to work on time. Imagine all the factors that play into your life.
And what if you hadn’t made the choices that you did?
That’s a scary one. That’s a real two-edged sword that is your greatest source of happiness and the greatest source of despair in your life – the choices you make. I might be excited and happy with the choices I’ve made this year, but by the same token, when you think about your year, you may look back with utter regret and uncertainty. What on earth were you thinking? You knew better. Or maybe you didn’t. But if you had…
People talk a lot about change. Fortunately for me, 2018 was a year where everything changing meant things got a lot better. But I also had to make a lot of the right choices, and also choose to have the right perspective. There were a huge amount of changes this year that I could have perceived as a step backwards in life. Or a step over from where I could have been. But instead I have been able to understand that there is great strength in getting established in new seasons to be even more established as the seasons go on. I have seen that I couldn’t be the man I need to be without the people in my life who are in my life right now. I couldn’t reach the fulfillment I could without the commitments and the partnerships I’ve made.
I wonder if you can see your own life in the same way? That you can see how many little things have had to take place to get you to where you are now. And how many more little things it will take to get you to the place you want to go? That you could see the little choices that you’ve made along the way. And I think more humbling, that you can see the little things that took place in your life that were the hand of God preparing you to be the person you need to be.
A lot of people write in to me about how they’ve read something on one of my blogs about some paradigm changing piece of advice that’s changed their whole marriage or outlook on life. I think that’s absolutely brilliant. And yet the real truth is that the things that I reflect on and try to share aren’t my own idea. I am unashamedly a Christian, I unashamedly share the great wisdom that can only come from Scripture that consistently prove to epitomize the best way to live, and I can unashamedly say that this year, and the 30 that I’ve been alive for, prove and demonstrate the faithfulness of God.
When I look back on my life at the age of 30 and at the end of 2018, I could see how many horrible things have happened. I could be paralyzed and weighed down by things in my life you would possibly shudder at. And yet I can look at those things and say, it was good for me that I was afflicted.
I could look back on the good in my life and say that I wish it was even better. I could complain about my lot in life and wish that I got the income of Mr Zuckerberg or the fame of Mr Sinek or the good looks of Mr Jackman or have gotten married at a younger age or blah blah blah blah. And yet to do so would be to tarnish the brilliant gifts that have been given to me that I alone get to enjoy in the way they’ve been crafted for me.
And so I look back on my life and my year blown away by a verse I read during my birthday weekend when my wife took me away to Lake Baroon, one of my favourite places on earth, and these words spelled out exactly my story:
Be glad then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the Lord your God;
For He has given you the former rain faithfully,
And He will cause the rain to come down for you—
The former rain,
And the latter rain in the first month.
The threshing floors shall be full of wheat,
And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.
And indeed, all I can see and say about when everything changes, is that God will always stay faithful. I can see in the times in my life when it wasn’t great, that He was faithful in being there for me. I can see at the end of a year of great achievements and love and wonder like this one that He has indeed been faithful in being kind to me. I can see that the places I am and the opportunities I have set me up for something even greater than I ever thought. And I can see that the new year ahead is indeed a year of new wheat, new wine, and new oil, symbolic of all those great things I could never achieve on my own.
I’m not sure where you find yourself at the end of this year, or whatever point in time you’re reading this. I’m not sure if you actually enjoy it when everything changes, or if you’re still waiting for things to get better. I’m not sure if you’re happy with or unhappy with the decisions you’ve made this year. All I can say is that it’s going to take a lot of little things, and indeed it already has, to get you to where you are today, and it’s going to take billions more to get you where you need to be.
And so I hope that you can look at your life, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and really see the little significant things that are taking place and that you’re having the opportunity to respond to. In the same way that a great structure is built brick by brick, pipe by pipe, cable by cable, level by level, layer on layer, so is the way your life is being built.
And what has been built so far is already a great foundation. A foundation for what? I’m not sure. God knows. I’m sure if you had enough of a look at your life so far you’d be able to work it out. Why not go on the adventure of finding out what the purposes of heaven have in mind for you, and make the decision to build something greater than you’ve ever been before?
So, how about you? How was your year this 2018? How do you deal with life when everything changes around you?