There have been many more lessons this year - far too many to list - but these are ones everyone ought to learn at some point. If you haven't yet, take my word for it.
1. Give up. Give up control. Give up that protective shield with loved ones. Give up sin. Give up judgment and criticism and all of the offenses taken. Just give up. Those are battles that aren't worth fighting.
2. Love. Love deeply. Let the pure love of Christ wash over you for people and don't be afraid to let that love lead you into doing things that might be scary or received wrong. There's too little love in the world to hold back. Every smile, every act of kindness, every hug, changes things one degree at a time.
3. Keep digging. When you reach a point of thinking you know everything there is to know about God, Jesus, the Bible and what it all means - you're lost. Keep digging like you're experiencing it for the first time and let God lead you into the wonder of who He is.
4. Worship is never wasted. Worship alone, worship in community, worship with friends, but worship will never be a waste of time or pointless or fruitless. A sacrifice of worship - worship when you don't feel like it or don't have it in you to worship - can often lead you into deeper areas of relationship with God you didn't know existed.
5. I am not as good as I'd like to believe I am. I fail often - so often I have recently spent a lot of time looking at my relationship with God and asking Him if He's sure He wants me on this journey with Him. Will you really use this mess? Will you really cleanse me of this sin for good? Is it worth it to be hurt over and over again by me as I stumble through this life? His answer is always, yes.
6. God is far greater than I understand Him to be. His grace really does separate my sin as far as the east is from the west - every single one. His love really is steadfast and unending. His heart really is relentless. He really does look at me and desire me with a consuming passion. I'll never understand, but He wants me to keep seeking Him anyway. He'll keep revealing Himself to me a bit at a time.
7. We choose our reality. What we see in my circumstances and experiences, or what God says in His word and in His promises. Your reality determines your attitude. Choose wisely.
Let 2017 be a year of learning and growing. No matter the mistakes, tragedy, hurt, joy or success you've experienced, take a handful of lessons into 2018 to make the New Year better. Not because of your circumstances, but because regardless of your circumstances you're growing and becoming the man or woman God designed you to be.
Start 2018 safely - happy New Year.