Julia T. Williams | What 2017 Taught Me
Julia T. Williams is a storyteller on a mission to help better lives through storytelling. She writes about all the things that go wrong and how people fight to make them right. Telling stories that matter while helping others cultivate theirs.
soul, storytelling, stories that matter, storyteller on a mission, stories to better lives,
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Jan 08 2018

What 2017 Taught Me

Last year revealed quite a few interesting moments to me. I claim 2017 to have been a revolutionary year for me. To start, there were painful events that led to me having surgery at the end of May. It seemed the pain came out of nowhere, sending me to the ER. It never dawned on me that fibroids would be the cause. I’d been living with those troublesome uterine tumors for many years without experiencing much trouble. Other than an urgent-care visit in 2011, I hadn’t had any other problems with them. ‘The Roids’ and I had an understanding: If they didn’t bother me, I wouldn’t bother them. I can count on one hand the amount of times we got in each other’s way.

One of those times was April 2017. It was the last two weeks of school when pain had me doubled over to the point I thought the Harlem Globetrotters were using my intestines to double-dutch with. The pain lasted for days. I took pain relievers, laid on a heating pad, and toughed through the pain while still attending classes. Finally, I took wise advice from my mother and emailed my professors to inform them I wouldn’t be in classes the next day. Since beginning my school journey in 2015, I have never missed a single class, so sending that email took a bite out of my discipline–though some may call it pride. The plan was to take more Ibuprofen and lay in bed. Unfortunately, one of my professors had other plans. The only way I could be excused to make up the exam was if I brought in a doctor’s note. Since I planned to nurse my pain at home and would not be able to provide the required proof, I took a hot shower, put on comfortable clothes, and went to take the exam. The drive ended up being the proof I needed that the hospital would be in my schedule after all. Still, I went to class, took the exam standing up, then drove back home as the pain worsened. My parents took me to the ER where I was told ‘you have really big fibroids sitting on everything’ and to follow up with my gynecologist. A month later I had those “really big fibroids” removed.

Here’s what 2017 taught me:

  • How detailed God’s plans are

That experience showed me how deep God’s hand was in canceling my study-abroad opportunity to Australia. Had I gone, I would not have known what to do when the pain hit in another country, let alone, on another continent. I probably would’ve been forced to end the semester and come back … losing all those credits. Then, because I could not take all the courses I needed, I would’ve had to take two summer courses. God knew I would need the summer off to have major surgery and heal from it. That showed me how His hand truly is in every detail of my life. He shut doors and opened doors. He changed my desires so I wouldn’t long for “nouns” that He knew wouldn’t work out. He saw everything beforehand and knew exactly how to orchestrate the situations before I arrived to them. Yes, His hand is in everything, to the most minute detail.

  • How I carried around more than I thought

Speaking of surgery, my reproductive endocrinologist went in to remove five fibroids.


When I awoke after surgery, I learned 12 were removed. (I’d show you the picture but don’t want to make you lose your lunch.) I first learned of the fibroids taking up residence in my womb around 2006. It had always been told to me there were five or six–one appeared to hide behind another. But, like I said, as long as they weren’t bothering me, I wouldn’t bother them. However, after having surgery, and learning there were more than six, I wondered how much more could I be carrying around that I was unaware of and okay with being a part of me. How much disappointment in situations not working out as planned were bottled up inside? Fear of trying again and frustration with trying again unsuccessfully? Old habits and mindsets still existing beneath the surface? I realized I still carried around angst from everything surrounding an 11-year-old work-related injury. It was as if there was a tumor for every lingering issue in my life. Last year showed me the reasons, seasons, and lessons.

  • How quickly the tides shift

For many years I’d lived with a tsunami in the depths of my soul. At the end of the day, after keeping up face for the world, I’d walk to my car feeling like Orka rested on my shoulders. I stayed heavy, which was utterly consuming. Knowledge of the source of such ominous feelings came to me in bits and pieces which only acerbated the problem. Then, one day while walking to my car after class, as I put my bag in the car, I recognized how light I felt. I stopped and actually spoke out, “Wait, I don’t feel heavy anymore. It’s the end of the day and there’s no weight.” Peace washed over me; it came for a visit and decided to stay. I welcomed peace from the past and peace with my present. Last semester was the heaviest course load and workload to date, but it also was the semester I felt the lightest. I hadn’t felt so light emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually in years (more years than I care to admit). I still feel that peace. I am no longer burdened by what happened to me or didn’t happen because 2017 taught me that EVERYthing happened for me. Romans 8:28 reads, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” (NLT).

In a nutshell, 2017 will be the year when I learned what it means to truly let go. Sometimes we are forced to let go, and sometimes we choose to let go. Neither is less painful than the other, but making the choice has a much more rewarding outcome. We can stay comfortable holding onto stuff because we don’t see any physical manifestations. Be warned: Just because we do not see or feel it does not mean it’s not there. It’s taking root, growing, multiplying. It’s taking residence and changing its address everywhere we go until we decide to let it go.

What were some of your lessons in 2017?

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  • It’s always amazing the lessons life has to teach us, and more importantly, the lessons we actually learn from life and how we can apply those lessons to helping us work through our future journeys. Thank you for sharing highlights of yours.

    It really has me thinking of some of the highlights I took from my own 2017 journey. It’s been quite a ponder. One lesson for sure I can share, that I seem to continue learning over and over is how no matter what’s going on, life waits on no one. And when I decide to do something, I need to get busy taking action; forward action.

    Thank you for reminding me of this.

    January 15, 2018 at 5:32 pm
    • You are right, life waits on or for no one. We have to be busy, effectively, or time will tick on without us.

      January 15, 2018 at 9:29 pm
  • Don

    This is a good, interesting read…

    Needing a doctor’s excuse really set a lot of positive things in motion for you. Maybe you take the exam at a later date, as the pain worsened. Or maybe you don’t. But not wanting to return to class without an excuse proved to be the difference.

    To me, reflection is an underrated thing. And I’ve always felt like those of us with invaluable insight or experience regarding “life lessons” should offer it, as much as possible, to the depths of one’s soul.

    Take a moment to think about the difference(s) it would make.

    What were/are some of my lessons? Hm. Psalms 41, above all. I’ve always wondered why it meant so much to me.

    January 8, 2018 at 11:46 am

What say you?

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