So last week I turned 28. As has been true every year since I turned 24, I expected to feel anxiety and dread about getting older. I waited for it to kick in, that part of me that begins comparing myself to others and wondering if I’m messing this entire thing up. Imagine how surprised I was during the days leading up to my birthday when I felt nothing but peace and thankfulness. I actually found myself looking forward to getting older and getting closer and closer to some of the things that God has planned. I know that this variance from my normal behavior is directly because God has been so faithful the past few weeks to provide so much encouragement, ensuring me that I am exactly where I need to be at this time in my life. He’s just good like that. So rather than feeling stressed and worried, I have had a chance to just sit back and reflect over the past few years and pen some of the most important lessons I feel that I have learned.
It has definitely been an interesting 28 years. My life has never really looked “normal” and now at 28 it definitely doesn’t look anything like what I thought it would. But I serve a God who knows me better than I know myself, and He has taken me on a journey that I never would have chosen for myself but that I would not change for anything. I have walked through the hardest of seasons but have also experienced the greatest of joys and through it all, He has been near – teaching me, growing me, and stretching me. He has forced me out of my comfort zones and used the messiness of life to speak truth into my heart.
I have taken time to write out what I feel are some of the 28 most important lessons I have learned in my 28 years of life. I can only hope that what I have walked through and what I have learned breathes hope, insight, and encouragement into weary parts of your soul.
28 Life Lessons I Have Learned in 28 Years:
1. Jesus is a constant friend.
2. Family matters most. I understand that not everyone has a good family, and some people need to set personal boundaries for themselves and separate themselves from family at times. But if you are like me and you have a great family, don’t take them for granted. At the end of it all, family truly does matter the most. Love your people well.
3. You have to learn to accept an apology you will never get, allow God to heal your heart, and move on. Unforgiveness will destroy your soul and unhealed pain will eventually become your identity.
4. But if not, He is still good.
5. If you don’t learn to die to the opinion of man, you will eventually die from the opinion of man. Your freedom will be determined by whether or not you allow what God thinks and says about you to matter more than what others think or say about you
6. Community matters. I tried to do it on my own. I had been hurt by the church and was burnt out on “church culture.” But something was missing. We weren’t created to do this on our own. Find your community and be a pillar for your people.
7. Age is just a number. Stop stressing out about getting older. Your only other option is death. Babies and children die every single day. Getting old is a privilege that many people are denied. Age might bring with it more wrinkles and gray hair, but it also brings more wisdom and a deeper relationship with Christ.
8. There’s a difference between being nice and being kind. Be kind.
9. There’s no such thing as a life for you that is better than your own when you keep your eyes focused on Christ and seek His will for you. Run your race with endurance and stay in your lane.
10. Ice cream is never a bad idea.
11. Your life doesn’t have to make sense to others. Anchor yourself to the promises of Christ and just be faithful.
12. Never place your identity in things that are fleeting (youth, success, popularity, money, career, looks, etc). Eventually all of those things will fade away and then what? Anything other than desperate dependence on God is simply false security. Jesus Christ is the only solid foundation.
13. Ordinary moments hold just as much glory as seemingly extraordinary moments. I have hiked up mountains, seen wild horses running free in their natural habitat, seen the bluest blue oceans, danced with locals in the streets of Guatemala, talked to people living in cardboard boxes in the dumps of Mexico, and helped rebuild a family’s tornado shelter after tragedy struck. I am grateful for every amazing experience I have had. But the older I get, the more I understand that God is just as present right here in the everyday moments of life. When my nephew gives me fishy kisses, when I talk to a teenage girl about how to hear from God, when I stand outside just to feel the cool breeze on my skin – He is here. All is grace, and that in itself is extraordinary.
14. The pain of healing is sometimes even harder than the pain of bondage, but your freedom is worth it.
15. There’s a difference between character and charisma. Don’t be deceived by the two. Character will take you where charisma never can.
16. When you view everything as a gift – every moment, every relationship, every hurt – and learn to give thanks in ALL things, it becomes impossible for the enemy to steal your joy
17. The Godly entrust their cases to the courts of heaven. God will fight for you.
18. The word “fat” should not be used as an adjective. You may have fat, but you are not fat. You are all lovely, amazing, and full of purpose. You are disciples, daughters, sisters, aunts, friends. You are so much more than a number on the scale.
19. Sometimes you really just need to take a nap. And that’s okay. Stop feeling guilty for letting yourself rest.
20. In a world constantly on the go, learn to be still. Give your best yes to the things that really matter and then let other things fall to the side. You can’t hear the quiet whisper of God when you’re making too much noise.
21. You need to watch Rocky IV.
22. It’s okay to like what you like and not follow every new fad or trend.
23. Let life be hard. We don’t have to be immediately rescued from every situation. Pain produces brokenness which produces life. Learn how to sit with pain and be still and KNOW that He is God. Stand on the promise that redemption is your song. You are held.
24. There’s not much more beautiful than a woman who loves the Lord and is completely, unapologetically herself. And there’s no greater gift you can give someone than the ability to be completely themselves in your presence.
25. Jesus can handle all of your doubts, fear, worries, insecurities, and questions. Don’t feel the need to hide those things from Him. He knows. He sees. He understands. He is near.
26. There’s always more room at the Table.
27. Single is not a dirty word. Husbands are not prizes for girls who have it all together. Godly, loving, self-less, prepared women are single all over the world. God is not keeping a character trait list for you and checking things off one by one until you’ve finally proven that you deserve a partner and marriage. Sorry, but that’s just dumb. Singleness in the church is not a problem to be fixed. (also my dear married church people – some of your marriages absolutely terrify us single ladies and if that’s what marriage is like, we aren’t interested.)
28. All dogs go to Heaven. I’m 100% certain that I will get to spend eternity with my dogs. Don’t try to change my mind :)
My life so far has been so full. I plan to embrace the last 2 years of my twenties with my head held high, looking everything I face straight in the eye, confident in who I am and whose I am. So cheers to you 28! I think you’re going to be a good one :)