Lest one chapter first conclude its tale, another has yet to begin.
20. Twenty. Vingt. Veinte. Venti. Zwanzig. Yirmi.
Yep. Twenty sounds just as mind-blowing in French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Turkish as it does in English.
Where does the time go?
It seems that just yesterday, my family cheered in sheer amazement as I took my first steps.
It seems that just yesterday, my darling parents waved me off as I embarked on my first day of kindergarten.
It seems that just yesterday, my love for reading was kindled as I stumbled upon my first Nancy Drew novel.
It seems that just yesterday, my ego was raging as I zoomed around the neighborhood on a pink Razor scooter (it’s okay, you can laugh at this one).
Just yesterday, I learned how to ride a bike.
Just yesterday, I wrote my first short story.
Just yesterday, I graduated from high school.
Just yesterday, I started my first job.
Just yesterday, I enrolled in college.
or so I wish.
Nineteen has been the most monumentally defining year of my life, and I don’t say that lightly. God has used my nineteenth year to shape me–to mold me–into who He created me to be. He has opened my eyes to things that I had yet to learn about myself. He has shown me the value in making my faith personal and has taught me what it means to truly rest in Him . . . even though I am ever-learning and continually growing.
Nineteen has been a year of tears and triumphs—- a year of emotional challenges and incredible change. It has been a time of introspection and self-awareness—a time of deep devotion and irrefutable dependence.
There were days when I felt like a total failure and nights when I cried myself to sleep.
There were weeks when I felt confused and months when I had no direction.
There were amazingly wonderful moments and extraordinarily difficult ones.
Yet, in both the good times and in the challenging ones, God was so faithful . . .
even when I wasn’t.
When I think of how good God has been to me, in spite of my selfishness, ingratitude, impatience, and frustration, my heart aches—physically aches in the deepest way.
He is so faithful, but I am so fickle.
He is so gracious, but I am so critical.
He is so patient, but I am so anxious.
He is just so good, but I am just so . . . not.
I don’t deserve His love nor His goodness toward me, but I am abundantly thankful that He lavishes His grace upon me, regardless.
This year, I have learned the importance of priority.
I have learned that there is undeniable value in rest—purposeful, wholly restorative rest.
I have learned that busyness can quickly metamorphose into a disastrous form of self-pity.
I have learned that perfection is unattainable, and any attempt to achieve fulfillment outside of Jesus Christ is futile, vain, and unbearably despairing.
I have learned that hard work is a blessing, not an identity crisis.
I have learned that creativity is a gift and one that ought to be used for God’s glory, not my own.
I have learned that coffee shops are “my nooks,” and I am so thankful for the community that is cultivated over a good cup of coffee.
That mornings are calming—naturally medicinal–and spending time with Jesus first is a sincere non-negotiable.
That family is a true treasure, and it is never okay to wrongfully unload personal stress on those that surround me.
That a little bit of encouragement can go a long way.
That writing is my niche, and it is okay to be the “nerd” every once in a while.
That words are unbelievably powerful, and we ought to steward our linguistical influence to build up, never tear down.
That every human I encounter is battling something, and loving people with a Gospel-centric love is always a good—a great—idea.
That following Jesus is the most beautifully challenging, overwhelmingly wonderful, and sometimes uncomfortably confronting thing that one could ever do, but it is also the greatest decision one could ever make.
That the attractions of this world, though tempting, are eternally worthless and surprisingly unsatisfying.
That I’m not a huge fan of trends—it’s cool to be unique.
That it is always okay to share struggles authentically and request prayer humbly.
That to seek biblical counsel, though occasionally uncomfortable (especially if you’re like me and like to bottle your emotions/concerns instead of voicing them #notagoodhabit) is one of the wisest things one can do—it is a true gift to know that we are not in this thing alone and can have others praying as we seek guidance and direction in big decisions.
That because God has fashioned each and every one of us with distinct interests, gifts, talents, and purposes, it is a phenomenal thing to embrace your Gospel-shaped identity and to live it out in full abandon.
I have learned that I was made for another world, so feeling “out of place” isn’t a bad thing . . .
Though above all else, this year I have learned just how thankful I am to be a Christian.
In full transparency, there have been moments in which I have foolishly longed for the things of this world—the dress, the music, the media, the lackadaisical approach to relationships and life—-and have even gone so far as to rationalize that some of these things aren’t “too bad.” There have been moments in which I have questioned God’s goodness, growing frustrated in waiting and feeling as if God was silent. There have been moments in which I have sorely failed my Savior, trusting in myself more than in His magnificent promises.
(And chances are, if you’re a young adult trying to live for Jesus in this self-focused and sin-filled culture, you’ve felt the same way too. Growing up in modern society is anything but easy, and you’re not the only one who struggles with this// Sidebar: stick with Jesus, even when He feels silent. Don’t listen to the empty lies and false hopes of society. You can truly make a difference . . . in your neighborhood, in your church, in your home, in your school, and in your relationships. . . never doubt that. You DON’T have to fit the label into which culture is so desperately trying to mold you. You CAN be a light.)
But check this verse out. Paul writes, “Ye are bought with a price; be not the servants of men” (1 Cor. 7:23).
Essentially, that is to say: Jesus gave His all for you to walk with Him, so don’t squander this precious fellowship with your Savior for a trifle, worldly enslavement.
Pretty incredible, isn’t it?
Nineteen has been a real one.
God has challenged me, though I am impatient.
God has strengthened me, because I am weak.
God has blessed me, although I am unworthy.
God has grown me, and I am thankful.
Through this year, God has prepared me to serve Him more fully, and I am eager to grow in Him as each day I learn to make Him my All—my everything—in the realest, deepest, most selfless way possible.
Through this year, God has shown me the value in waiting, even though it is the hardest thing for me to do sometimes. (Naturally, I am not a patient person, so waiting instead of “getting things done” is not easy for me. Thankfully, though, we are all a work in progress, and God has used my 19th year to strengthen this area of my life.)
Perhaps more than any other year, though, nineteen has awakened me to my deep-rooted insufficiencies. God has broken me to see just how unworthy I am and to understand that I am absolutely incapable of anything apart from Him.
He has grown me inexplicably and has shielded me from the enemy’s attacks throughout the process. (Plot twist: if you are living for God, chances are, the enemy will try everything he can to stop you. But he’s a liar, so run from his deception and run to Jesus instead.)
Through this year, God has shown me just how dependent I am upon Him, just how incapable I am apart from Him, and just how faithful He is to provide His children with what they need, not always with what they want.
As I embark on a new chapter (twenty? I am literally screaming on the inside), I thank God for His faithfulness to me and my family . . . even when we weren’t the most faithful to Him.
I am thankful for the opportunity to live for Him . . . even though I am fully aware of just how undeserving I am.
And I am thankful for the blessings that I get to enjoy (and often take for granted) each and every day.
My family, my home, my jobs, my provisions, my protection—-God is just so, so good.
Here’s to a new chapter.