Thursday, August 14, 2014

23 Things I Learned While I Was 23

I turned 24 this past Monday, which means that I’m now one year away from reaching the summit of Mount Twenty-Something (I’m gearing up for my Quarter-Life Crisis as we speak).

Birthdays are a great time to celebrate and reflect; to think about how far you’ve come while looking forward to what you want to accomplish in the upcoming year.

This past year has been a roller-coaster for me, packed with breakthroughs and accomplishments along with some heartbreaks and low points along the way. But through it all, I’ve learned more about who God is, who I am and how to better love others.

I also want to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to read this blog and for joining me on this journey. Since my blog's re-launch at the beginning of the year, I’ve been humbled by the kind words and encouragement from both friends and strangers and I’m excited to see what’s next!

So as I turn the page on another year, here are 23 things I learned while I was 23:

1. It’s one thing to trust God on a macro level (“Yeah, God, I trust You with my life!”) but it’s much more difficult -- and essential -- to trust God on a micro level (“God, I trust You with this specific dream, this desire, that means so much to me...”).

2. Making plans and analyzing situations before making big decisions is good and all, but don’t let overthinking lead to paralysis.

3. Setting up physical and emotional boundaries is not optional in relationships -- they form an essential pillar to any kind of healthy relationship. Without them, even the strongest relationships can fall apart.

4. You’re not always going to agree with God. But you need to trust that He is good, He is faithful and His plans for your life are greater than your own -- even if you can’t see the whole picture right now.

5. My pastor, Ed Young, usually says "Ask the right people the right questions to get the right answers." For example: If you want a great marriage in the future, ask for advice from people who have the kind of marriage you want to have.

6. Sometimes God’s answer to your prayers is 'No'. 'No' hurts, and it’s okay to be hurt. 'No' makes you cry, and that’s okay, too.

7. The small things -- like making your bed first thing in the morning -- matter more than you think they do.

8. Friendships change -- and that’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes they change for the better.

9. Forgive others -- even when it’s not easy. Especially when it’s not easy. Forgiveness is more for you than it is for the other person. Holding a grudge will make you bitter, not better.

10. If you are brave enough to try the “Endless Appetizers” promotion at T.G.I. Fridays, you will leave with regret and self-loathing. Man was not meant to eat so many mozzarella sticks. Never again!

11. Creating is a lot more fun, exciting and fulfilling than criticizing.

12. You can try to run away from God, but you'll always end up running right into Him. Be honest with God, with those you trust and with yourself. Its not healthy to hide or minimize what’s happening in your heart and in your head. Bring it out in the light and deal with it.

13. Enjoy the stage of life you find yourself in. You might not be where you want to be, but you are where you need to be. There are always opportunities to learn, explore and grow right where you are.

14. God loves to use unqualified people to do extraordinary things. Don’t let the world disqualify you from pursuing your passion or dream.

15. Fear, jealousy and bitterness all have this in common: they are great at stealing your joy.

16. You can’t make people change.

17. There are no limits to the number of times you can start over.

18. Even when God feels absent and distant; He is still there. He always will be. Keep seeking Him.

19. Pets are family. While they are in your life, they provide you with companionship, comfort and joy. It hurts when one day they are there to greet you at the door after a long day at work and the next they are no longer there. Be grateful for the pets in your own life.

20. Give yourself the grace to try and fail; to write a terrible first draft that you'll have to heavily edit or scrap completely. That's the only way how you get better at your craft.

21. The best time to be selfish with your time is 6 a.m. The hard part is getting up at 6 a.m.

22. Worrying takes up way too much time and distracts you from what needs to be done in your life. Pray about it and leave whatever it is you are worrying about in Jesus’ hands instead.

23. Be grateful for what you have and what you’ve already been blessed with. Everything you have is because of God’s grace, and His grace alone. Never forget that.

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