As wild as it is for me to believe, earlier this week I celebrated the kick off to the last year of my twenties. I’ve never really feared or disliked getting older, but I say often how weird it feels. Time is a funny thing. And I have a tendency to marvel over it often. But rather than going on a long, philosophical rabbit-trail about it, I’m here to reflect on my 29th year of life and some of the big things that God taught me throughout it.
Last year on my 28th birthday I took the time to do this, and as I glance back, all of the things that I took note of are things the Lord continues to guide me in today. So I like the idea of recording the big things again this year for me to reflect on in the future, and so it can possibly serve as an encouragement to you as well!
So, here’s ten of the standout things that have shifted my mind and my heart in my 29th year…
When facing big decisions or changes, give it all God. Last year one of my standout factors was taking everything to the Lord in prayer, and this year I continued that practice most significantly through some much bigger-feeling circumstances. Between work changes and career decisions for us both, finding answers to one of our pup’s health concerns, and all of life in-between, I look back on my prayer journals and see the ways I clung to God for direction, and how that affected my demeanor, while I waited on His perfect timing and provision. Which leads me to…
God is steady in a world of unsteadiness. He proved Himself steady when my sense of normalcy was thrown out of whack at the end of last year. He is steady even as our world has faced a pandemic. He is steady when division and hate seep deeper into hearts. He is steady when life doesn’t go as expected. Jess Connolly said it best: “Even when life is going nuts, so much can seem settled because His love, affection, grace, mercy, and strength are always the same.” And so I will cling to Him to find my steadiness, rather than focus on the fear of the turmoil that this world and life can bring.
Balance is a means, not a destination. I can very easily get fixated on the goal of “mastering” life instead of focusing on the good of others and the glory of God. I treat balance like it’s my goal, but it is not meant to be my end all be all. I don’t want to waste the time I’ve got on this earth by seeking to live a tidy life just for the sake of a tidy life. I want to live abundantly for Jesus, and living with some semblance of balance is a way that I can free myself up to do that. I just need to be careful to guard my heart and check my intentions frequently.
Feel out the day. While routines and rhythms often help me live my best life, it’s ok to be gracious with myself and step out of them if something else feels better on a given day. It’s ok to change them up to tend to what needs to be tended to. My favorite pilates instructor often says in regards to what level of an exercise to do, “pick the option that works best for you and your body today.” And it’s resonated with me in regards to all areas of my life. I like structure, but I also am learning to be okay with stepping outside of it if my body or mind needs something different.
If I just DO the things that are weighing on me, I won’t feel the looming pressure to do them anymore. I can often let the things I don’t want to do pile up and stress me out. But if I just take action on them instead of procrastinate, then I won’t feel the stress or guilt anymore. It sounds so simple right? Just pull the weeds, make the phone call, get rid of the pile of stuff to donate, and I won’t be so consumed with thinking about all the things I should or need to do. Just get it done, lift the weight, and move on.
I place too much of my self worth on my level of productivity. I’ve noticed how I feel guilty if I don’t do enough – especially in a season where I have a lot more freedom with my time. I regularly feel like I should be doing more. And that if I’m not, I’m wasting my time. Or I’m wasting God’s time. I need to release myself from this pressure I put on myself and just do exactly what God calls me to do. Jesus has already made me enough.
I’ve let insecurity stop me from fully living in the abundance of God’s calling for me. I’ve spent so much time putting off the very things I claim to be so passionate about. I’ve let guilt or fear of other’s opinions squash the passion and excitement I had for this season of my life. And I’m the one missing out when I hold back. Plus, I’m preventing others from seeing the ways God is, or could be, working through me. Why can’t I just let myself live my best life in this season? Why do I keep sadly waiting for it’s time to be up? Even more, why do I keep seeking ways to end it, even though it’s exactly where I want to be? Clearly I’m still working my way through this one.
I’m the only one who can obediently act on what God is calling me to do. God wasn’t kidding around when he directed me towards my word for 2020. He has reinforced it over and over and over and over again in a variety of ways. And here I am nearly 9 months into the year, still feeling like I’m squandering to live it out. I clearly needed this word as my guiding force this year to keep calling me back to the Lord’s path for my life. And God has been so dang patient with me as I’ve been figuring it out.
Don’t hold someone’s past version of themselves against them (including myself). Being made new in Christ means that we have the grace to change. And we should be willing to extend that grace to ourselves and others. Who we used to be does not have to define who we are now. A story of who we were does not have to define who we are today. And there is so much freedom when we allow ourselves, and others, to be renewed.
1 Peter 3:8 has become my guiding prayer for this nation and this world. It says, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” In light of all of the challenging and divisive events going on, I have continually been praying for people to have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, tender hearts, and humble minds towards one another. Those attributes have never stopped being fitting ways to handle so many of the complicated issues our country is facing. I’ve prayed it over leadership in light of COVID. I’ve prayed it over our politicians. I’ve prayed it over the different “sides” of arguments and issues. We could all use more of all of those attributes in ourselves, and so I’ve been praying for them over our nation and world often.
Well friends, there you have it – ten things that God has been teaching me over the last year of my life (and still is, at that). As I look forward to the final year of my twenties, I’m looking with great hope that I can take what I’ve learned in life so far to keep stepping into who God has made me, and is making me, to be.
Until next time,