Twenty-five: Year of Growth.

I have no idea how to look back on my twenty-fifth year of life without absolutely losing it. Twenty-five was challenging, but oh, so sweet. I mostly write this post for me- to look back on, to reflect, to challenge myself- but I’ve included some of YOU in this post and there may be some encouragement, so just come along, y’all.

Over the past year, I feel like I have been grown and stretched. I’ve learned so much. I’ve been blessed in so many magnificent ways. And here are just a few key things I’ve come away with:

The Lord hears our prayers. 

I could go into tons of detail, but it would take all evening. But lets just say, I left twenty-four a completely broken woman- anxious, broken, deeply discouraged. I didn’t know if I could teach anymore, if I could advocate for justice, or if I could even keep going. I was exhausted from my worrying and anxieties and most days all I could mutter was “Please God” and “No, Lord, say it isn’t so.” But the Lord and counseling and friendship and community has healed me. And I believe it’s in large part to the power and weightiness of using our prayers to communicate to an all sufficient God our every need. Seriously, y’all, prayer. Try it. This leads me to my next learning…

Counseling isn’t just for suicidal people. 

I’m serious. I bobbed in and out of counseling in different seasons of my life, but when I left counseling in March of this year and traded in my weekly sessions for a check-in session schedule, I looked at my counselor and said, “I think you saved my life”. Counseling is for everyone- for the anxious, for the depressed, for the woman with an absent father, for the man struggling with his identity, for the abused daughter, for the neglected brother. Counseling is for anyone who is struggling. When we share what’s on our hearts and ask someone else to help us process the load, lighten the load, and help us through, we’re taking some of the weight off of ourselves and allowing our wounded, vulnerable hearts to hear from someone else’s soul. And it’s so amazing. I could write a whole blog about the benefits of counseling.

People will hurt you, but they will also save you.

It’s true. This year my husband and I felt the sting from some people we really love and really care for. We felt the sting of rejection and we felt the pain of the feeling of not good enough. But you know what else we felt this year? Cherished. Chosen. Joyful. Hopeful. Cared For. We have cried with people we love (okay, mainly me) and have laughed with complete strangers. And it has all been sweet in some way. I think we can become really hard and bitter towards people, but I’m going to tell you- please don’t. Believe that the people God has surrounded you with are there for a reason to care for you, to love you, and to sometimes grow you- even if it hurts a bit.

Marriage can be tough, but it can also be beautiful beyond words. 

We are still newlyweds. We are a year and a half into marriage and we are still pursuing each other, still learning each other, still hurting each other, and still loving each other (after 8 am and before 9 pm). Marriage has grown me in ways I never imagined- like in selflessness and courage. We have had our fair share of disagreements and even more laughter, lingering hugs, and memorable pillow talk. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t hold hands with any other man and there’s no one else whose arms feel quite like home. My advice? Invest in your marriage. Date your spouse. Serve them with everything you can.

Life’s too short to work a job you don’t love. 

This year I worked a job at Foster Elementary School. I’m convinced Foster school is the most amazing school on this side of eternity. The teachers are the very best- filled with love and joy for their students, their jobs, and each other. I feel deeply loved and cared for every day I come into school and I am so reminded that life is too short to work a job that you don’t completely love. In my twenties, I’ve talked to so many of my friends who are unsettled in their jobs, hate the feeling of needing to climb the ladder to find significance, and are groggy from the daily mundane. This year was the most amazing teaching year ever and I know it’s because I was committed to working a job I loved. I encourage you to find what sets your heart ablaze and to do just that.

Friendship and community is God’s design for His people.

In my twenty-fifth year, I started a Bible study in my home when I was desiring Christian community. The Lord reconnected me to friends who I hadn’t talked to in years. I was able to invest in and be invested in by so many beautiful women. Friendship and living in community is something we should all be doing. Focusing our time on serving others and spending time with those who mean the most. Join a book club. Try a league. Invite your neighbors over. Whatever you have to do to create community, do that thing, because when you do, it’s so beautiful and sweet.

Sometimes the person who needs grace the most is the person looking back in the mirror.

This last point feels ugliest. What if I told you that my birthday this year was the most insignificant birthday to-date? Or what if I told you that I cried a good few times on the day I turned twenty-six? I need grace, friend, and so do you. We weren’t created to be perfect or to hold ourselves to unattainable standards. We were created to be loved and to love others. So if you’re having a bad day or nothing seems to be going right, look in the mirror and tell that beautiful person on the other side how much they matter and how much you love them. Tell them that today is a new day and you’re going to be amazing. You can do it, friends.

Year twenty-five was so eventful- yet so disappointing at times. Yet, I found great peace in my faith and was able to persevere.

So long, twenty-five! Hello, twenty-six, I can’t wait to see where we go!

 

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