A quarter of a century is what it takes for me to realize a thing or two—or 25.
Today, my car insurance goes down, I can rent a car without paying an extra fee and I’m halfway to 50.
If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that you’re never too young to have wisdom. With life experience comes wisdom, and I’ve had my share of life experiences. As a millennial, I find it only fitting to compose a list with a focused number at the center. Today’s number is 25.
Today’s lesson is what I’ve learned in reflecting on that number.
1. God is faithful.
Time and time and time and time again. Not the way I want, not the way I expect, but always the most perfect, unique and purposeful way.
2. Broken people need broken people.
I’m broken. You’re broken. We’re all broken. I need you. You need me. We all need each other. It’s through our broken pieces and cracks that we shine the brightest.
3. If you don’t like your circumstances, change them.
If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree. If you don’t like the “way it’s just always been,” dare to change it. Defy the norm, break down generational patterns, and revolutionize your life.
4. If you can’t change them, change yourself.
If you don’t like the you that you’ve let yourself become, be brave enough to revaluate. I’ve had to do this too many times, and it takes intentional work on yourself. Make the time in the day to work on yourself.
5. Work for what you want.
As of 2016, I’ve been working for more than 10 years. When I left my position in management, I went into education, where I currently reside. It’s been a lot of work, but at 25, I feel confident to step into any sector of business with customer service experience, business skills and a good resume. If you work for what you want, you can make anything happen.
6. Cast the vision.
Recently my husband and I took a “Vision Day.” We sat down with endless cups of coffee and casted the vision for us. We casted it for our marriage, our future family timeline, our careers, our personal goals and even our family confession.
We discussed what we wanted to be known for as a family. When you think of our family, what do you think? Do you think of peace, acceptance, joy and most importantly, God’s love? I hope so. That’s part of the vision we’re casting, and that’s part of the confession we’re declaring every single day.
7. Love others.
Simple; yet, the most missed command of them all. Love goes a long way in this world. Love others even when you don’t feel like you have any love to give. Love others even when it takes time out of your day.
Love others even when you can’t seem to find anything to love about them. Even when they disagree with you. Even when they think differently than you. Even when they look differently than you. Even when they talk differently than you. Even when they make mistakes. Even when they’re sad. Even when they’re happy. Love them. Love her. love him. It covers a multitude of sins and problems and junk and brokenness.
8. Forgive others.
If you’re ever going to find peace with yourself, you’ll have to forgive others. There’s no one more miserable than you when you are holding onto the junk of yesterday. And trust me, that junk is heavy and messy, and it’s tough to ditch. But pack it all up, lock it in a suitcase and toss it in the ocean.
For good. Let go. And be free.
9. Repeat the previous step.
Repeat. And again. And again. For the rest of your life. For every age. For all of your days.
10. Stand strong.
Stand tall, strong and proud. Your scars are proof that God is a God of healing and has done a magnificent work when you stand strong with those scars.
Because sometimes you’re 16 trying to figure out if you’re ever going to find something promising in this life, and then one day you’re 25 holding onto that promise that God does have something for you in this life: a future full of goodness and peace and grace.
11. Take intentional steps into your calling.
If God calls you to go, go. If God calls you to stay, stay. If God calls you to give all of your money, give all of your money. If God calls you to sit with a friend for hours and listen to their frustrations and pains and tears, then sit with that friend for hours and listen.
Each is an intentional step of obedience into your calling.
12. Live in community.
Unfortunately, it took me 25 years to realize this one, and I will admit, I’m still learning it. I’m still learning the importance of relationships—I’m an only child, an introvert and a self-professed old soul.
I am recharged through my independent time, through writing, through music, through reflecting alone. But God calls us to a community. We need people, and other people need us. We need people to survive life’s hits. We need people to celebrate life’s successes. Find your people because at the end of the day, sometimes we just need someone to hold us and say, ‘I’m here, you’re valued, I’m listening.”
13. Put others before yourself.
We’re selfish. We’re about us. I learned that it takes work to put others before me. To consider my friends’ desires before mine. To consider what they would enjoy doing on the weekend before me.
I also learned sacrifice. Even when I would sometimes rather have me time, it’s always more worth it to devote this time, care and funds to someone else in need relationally, financially or emotionally.
14. Don’t give up on people.
Stay with them. Put in the work. Listen to their story. Consider their problems and struggles valuable. We need them. You need them. Even when we don’t want them, even when we would much rather write them off, don’t give up.
15. Stay educated. Keep learning.
Enjoy Science? Keep researching.
Enjoy English? Keep reading.
Enjoy the Arts? Keep watching. Keep painting. Keep playing.
Enjoy Health? Keep improving. Keep lifting. Keep running.
Enjoy Religion/Relationship? Keep seeking. Keep praying. Keep gleaning.
16. Serve others.
My word for 2015 was “serve,” and my focus was to become less about me, and more about how I can help others. Even in the small situations, and even in the large situations. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve helped people carry groceries, bought their groceries because they forgot their money, went out of my way to hold doors for them, or even just sent cards and words of encouragement in the mail to friends just because.
Because serving others involves taking what you have, what you are physically, emotionally, and relationally able to do and give it away. Your time, your money, your words. Everything. And it’s been one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned by the time I’ve turned 25. It’s not about me; it’s about you.
17. Move forward.
Change the channel. Rip off the Band-Aid. Turn the page. Even go so far as to burn the book and pull a new one off the shelf. Start a new book, open the page and begin Chapter One of a new you.
18. Control what you can control.
There will be so many things out of your control that you wish you could control. But life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it. I decided, recently, that I would be in charge of myself. And others? They will be in charge of themselves. And together, life goes on and I control my thoughts, actions and, most importantly, reactions.
19. Be in charge of you.
You are not in charge of your neighbor. You’re not in charge of your spouse. You’re not in charge of your friend. You’re in charge of you. And since you are in charge, you call the shots.
Call your shots. Make it happen. Because there is nothing more humbling and awesome and mind-blowing than seeing God bring changes and promises to pass in your life.
Write. Write. Write. I write, but I don’t release it. Do you know how many blogs I’ve typed since January 1st, 2016? Too many to count. I write, but I don’t publish. As long as I’m writing.
21. Make time for yourself.
Go for a run. Take a drive. Have that cup of coffee. Doodle. Color. Lay in the grass. Read that book on your nightstand. Go buy the shoes. Fall into a pile of leaves. Take that bath. Relax. Just make time for yourself.
22. Stay fit: body, soul, spirit.
I will say that I am currently in the greatest shape of my life: body, soul and spirit. I’m an avid runner, I eat cleaner than I ever have and I can run for miles. I feed my soul things that uplift it—things I need.
I need coffee shops, I need sunrises, I need the outdoors, I need travel, I need adventure, so I feed it. And my spirit is thriving daily because I’m seeking the Kingdom first, and I’m learning what it’s like to hear the Lord’s voice. I’m putting in the work in all areas to stay fit because each one of these categories takes personal responsibility on our part.
23. Go back to the basics.
I’m wordy. I think too much. I plan and map out all of my future steps. But I get overwhelmed easily. I look at the big picture and just question. How? When? Why?
And then, I’m quickly reminded to go back to the basics. Take it one step at a time. Take it one day at a time. Wake up. Show up. Work hard. Stay humble. Love God. Love others.
24. Practice what you preach.
If you preach peace, be a person of peace. If you preach love, be a person of love. If you preach acceptance, be a person of acceptance. If you preach God’s grace, be a person who is the first to confess your need for God’s grace.
25. Be a world changer.
When I was younger, I thought I could do anything. I’ve always been a dreamer, and I’ve always been a visionary. At 25, I still think I can do anything. Ask my husband—I have world-changing ideas and dreams daily. However, I learned at 24 that to be a world changer, your vision needs to come into practice, and that practice needs to come to pass.
Cast the vision. Do everything in the natural to make it happen. Pray until you’re at a loss for words. And then pray some more. Then stand back and watch God mold you into a fierce world changer.
Here’s to 25. May the next 25 years be filled with many new valuable lessons involved with parenting, grand-parenting, ministry, marriage and all of life’s goodness.