At the time of my writing this, I am but a mere two days away from completing my twentieth trek around the sun . . . preparing to embark on my twenty-first.
(And all the people said, “She wasn’t readyyyyy.”)
They say that time flies when you’re having fun, and though I’m not too sure this statement could apply to all circumstances, I can confidently say that, in my experience, time sure has flown and—despite unexpected challenges—I sure have had fun.
So, yes. I suppose ‘they’ are right.
Time does fly when you’re having fun—sometimes it flies like a hummingbird, and other times, it flies like a fighter jet.
This year, time has flown like a fighter jet . . . and homegirl is still aching from some leftover whiplash.
But I’m having fun,
because I’m just thankful to be flyin’.
As I reminisce over my last twelve-month whirlwind, I can confidently say that my twentieth year has been the most formidable year of my life.
It has shaped me unlike any other year.
It has pushed me.
It has pulled me.
It has broken me.
It has encouraged me.
It has challenged me.
And, it has grown me.
Formidable? Yep. That was year #20.
To be perfectly candid with you, as I write this post, I’ve had to repeatedly battle a tendency toward pessimism in hopes of sympathy. I’ve had to consistently replace self-pity with gratitude, desperately trying to avoid the pitfalls of complainatory mindsets. I’m human, and humans complain. That’s not what I want to do here. This year has been difficult, but God has been so good—I am undeserving, but He is merciful. I have struggled, but He has sustained. That is the spirit with which I hope to write this post.
I want to be real about my struggles, but I also want each struggle to point to the graciousness of God in delivering me from it or helping me through it. Life is not problem-free, but it is sovereignly orchestrated by a perfect Savior, and I am learning to rest in that—each and every day.
With that being said . . . year #20? Phew. What a ride, man. What a ride.
If I were to summarize the year in one term, it would be “growth-filled.”
Emotionally arduous, spiritually challenging, and physically draining . . . but growth-filled, nonethless.
Ultimately, however, I’m grateful for the growing seasons, challenging as they may be. You see, flowers don’t bloom without rain, and humans don’t grow apart from growing pains; therefore, I’ve come to appreciate each struggle for the opportunity that it is—a chance to become more like Christ and an occassion to highlight His goodness.
I’ve cried a lot, but with each passing teardrop came a new lesson . . . so I’ve learned a lot, too.
For the remainder of this (rather long-winded) post, it is my prayer that I could share some of the lessons that I’ve learned . . . from my heart to yours.
So buckle up, y’all. It’s going to be a long (and wordy) ride.
(That was supposed to be a joke. You can laugh.)
- Obedience matters.
- Ironically, at the beginning of 2020, my chosen word for the year was “obedience.” At first, I had intended on choosing a more poetic-sounding term like “bloom,” or “blossom”; but then, I recognized that I would never bloom or blossom if I did not first obey. I would never grow if I did not first submit. In fact, on January 1st, I penned these words, “This year, I just really want to be obedient to God—wherever that leads me, whatever that looks like, and whenever that’s demanded. I want to more faithfully heed God’s leading in my life, despite the pitfalls of my own prideful, selfish, and short-sighted plans.” At the time, I could have never known what was to follow in the coming months, but the necessity for obedience has certainly climaxed, it seems. Oftentimes, the road of life may appear bumpy, blurry, or even burdensome when viewed through the lens of our limited visions and finite minds; however, as God’s children, we can rest in the reality of our Redeemer—He is sovereignly orchestrating every nuance of our daily lives. His ways are not our own, and that’s a good thing . . . because His ways are best. We must humbly heed. We must faithfully follow. Obedience matters.
- Read–a lot.
- In conjunction with the oft-repeated adage, “readers are leaders, and leaders are readers,” one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this past year is the importance of immersing one’s self in the beauty of the written word. Books are a blessing. Words are a gift. And reading is a true joy, friends. Clinging to the standards of Philippians 4:8, I encourage each of you to submerse yourselves in thought-provoking, theologically-challenging, and intellectually-enriching books—books that will grow you into a stronger Christian, a deeper thinker, and a more selfless leader. Every day is an opportunity to learn—take responsibility for your personal growth and just delve in. So, read . . . and read a lot.
- Leadership is a great blessing—steward your influence wisely.
- Throughout my twentieth year, God has given me ample leadership opportunities—opportunities that I could never have seen coming and opportunities that leave me feeling completely unworthy every day. If there is one thing that I have learned, however, it’s this: Leadership is not about you; it’s about others. The biblical pattern of leading is servanthood, and we must never lose sight of this reality. Each individual is battling personal struggles; therefore, emapthy, care, and genuine concern can—and will—carve monumental impacts on the lives of those with hurting hearts. Reach out. Encourage big. Love relentlessly. Leadership is influence. Influence breeds credibility. Credibility creates trust. Therefore, regardless of your age (don’t let them look down on you because you’re young, by the way—1 Timothy 4:12), your social status, your background, or even your current position, I challenge you to steward your influence . . . and steward it wisely, friends. The world is watching—what are you showing?
- Take the picture. Meet the friend. Go on the trip.
- If you had asked me when I was five-years-old if I could have ever envisioned myself living during the time of a global pandemic, I would have probably said something sarcastic (I’ve always been one for a little bit of wit, what can I say) and then replied with: “What’s a pandemic?” You see, I had never once considered the reality of something like a global pandemic, cultural upheaval, or even a monumental economic crisis occuring because I sorely took for granted the daily blessings of status quo. In fact, just days before covid infiltrated every nuance of worldwide society, I complained to my friend about the mundanity of ordinary life. (Oh, how I long for such “mundanity” again!) Through the challenges of quarantine, isolation, and altered plans, however, God has taught me many lessons—one of them being this: do not take life for granted, ever. Savor every moment—the big ones and the small ones. Take lots of pictures, regardless of what people think. Embark on spontaneous trips. Make memories. Spend time with friends. Joyfully live the life that God has given you, guarding against the dangers of apathy, comparison and discontentment. Ultimately, just enjoy where God has placed you, and then live life to the fullest. Gratitude does go a very long way.
- Truth really does matter, and discernment really can save lives.
- Living in a post-truth culture is not easy. Perpetually weeding through the “almost-right” is not easy. Guarding against the current rise of false teaching/teachers is not easy. Trying to discern the truth amidst the murky waters of personal opinion, conflicting evidences, and ever-changing ideals is just not easy. In fact, it can be very draining—like, “I literally don’t know what to believe anymore” draining. (Yeah, we’ve all been there . . . especially this year.) With that being said, however, the most important things in life are not easy. The things that require the greatest care are the most fragile. And the most valuable facets of life are the ones we must protect the most. In other words, truth matters; therefore, it must be preserved, protected, and proclaimed—for such a time as this. Discernment saves lives; therefore, believers must test the spirits, try the facts, and determine the validity of every ounce of information ingested. A little leaven does leaven the whole lump, after all. How, then, do we know what is pure and what is deceptive? How can we determine the truth from falsehood? Well, ultimately: God’s Word. It’s alive and sharper than any two-edged sword, folks. May we tremble at it instead of trampling over it. May we reverence it, obey it, and store it in our hearts. Never be afraid to stand up for the truth. Christianity has been, is currently, and will always be counter-cultural. It is okay to stand out and stand up. Fight for the truth, friends. You could save a life—or a soul.
- When God is re-shaping you, surrender to the breaking.
- Sometimes, before we can be molded into the person we are called to be, we must first be broken of the person we used to be. In other words, oftentimes, God must reconstruct us before He deconstructs us—and that is a reality we should run to, not from. My twentieth year has certainly been a “breaking” season, but there is nothing more beautiful than broken, palpable pieces in the Hands of their Maker. Just as a gem must survive the fire to determine its authenticity, Christians will be tested through difficult seaons to strengthen their faith. The trying of our faith will work steadfastness—I’m grateful for that.
For the sake of time—and sanity—I have decided to merely list the remainder of my lessons. As alluring as spending a full two-hours reading my writing might sound to you (haha, that was a joke), I think we could all appreciate the value of keeping things short and sweet from this point forward.
- God is the only Constant amidst the tumultuous winds of life’s uncertainty.
- Community is—and always will be—an absolute necessity for human beings.
- Sunshine is good for the soul.
- If it draws you from God, it isn’t worth it.
- Counsel from those who are older and more spiritually mature than you is a gift—listen + respect.
- We may not deserve God’s grace, but we can certainly rest in it and rejoice because of it.
- Theological breakdowns can be good if you allow God to uncover His truth to you through His Word.
- God is ever-so wonderfullly sovereign—entirely in control of every nuance of our lives.
- Fear does not come from God. It can–and will–destroy God’s children. Keep your armor on, and fight the good fight.
- Words are more powerful than we could ever imagine. With each word we utter, we have the ability to tear down or build up—choose wisely.
- Everything we do ought to be for the glory of God. Soli Deo Gloria, always.
- Wisdom—search for it, pray for it, and apply it. Especially in today’s post-truth culture, we need it.
- No one is too far gone for the power of God’s unfailing love. He will redeem. He will rescue. And He will transform. He is abudantly good.
So, as I conclude my twentieth trek around the sun, I just want to say that God is good. Goodness is who He is—He defines it, He exhbits it, and He bestows it. Everything He does is good, and we—as His children—can rest in that, truly.
Our visions can easily cloud themselves with the uncertainties of this life, but as long as we maintain our focuses on Jesus, things will grow clearer each and every day.
He is good. He is sovereign. He is merciful. He is gracious.
He is God, and I am trusting in Him—even when He is the only thing I can see clearly.
So, yeah. Time flies when you’re having fun.
But I’m thankful for it all.