In light of turning 30 tomorrow, I’ve decided to share some of the important lessons I’ve learned along the way. It’s all about trial and error, but hopefully this may save you some time and possibly a few headaches.
- Life’s plan is messy and hurts sometimes. Praise God for that. Literally. If I could tell you all the paths I may have taken if I had gotten my way, well for one, you’d be reading all day, but secondly I’m confident I would be stuck at the age of 23 with no idea of who I truly wanted to become. Many of my best moments came right after some of the hardest times. I’m not only in a better place because of disappointments, but I’d also like to think I’m a better person.
- Forgiveness is the fastest path to happiness and a content heart. I’ve never been one to hold a grudge, but there have been times I’ve spent days or weeks upset with someone for reasons that, in the long run, are insignificant. Lack of forgiveness inevitably makes you much more of a prisoner than the one you can’t forgive.
- Love may come easy, but true love only happens once. I’m still waiting on that, but I know it will be worth it. Finding the person who loves you with his/her whole heart and commits, leaving you with peace and trust that he or she will never leave, that’s love. All the other stuff is just the prep work.
- BUT love well and try your hardest. I’ve been the good girlfriend and also the selfish one. One of the most memorable comments a past boyfriend said to me was, “You think I’m strong because of my personality, but you don’t realize how bad your words hurt me. You hurt me.” I’ll never forget that conversation, mainly because it was so convicting and true. In the past, when I felt hurt or guarded I used my words to mask the pain. That’s not right, fair and certainly not loving. That conversation changed the way I deal with conflict and when I slip up, because I do, I find myself genuinely apologizing within hours, if not minutes. I’m fairly certain God has a lot more to do with that than I do.
- Family matters more than work, friends, boyfriends, or just about anything else on the list. When your world crumbles, they are always the first ones picking up the pieces. Hula-Hooping. Right Mom? Unconditional love is a beautiful gift.
- Spending quality time with someone is more important than just about anything. Making memories is something that creates a bond that can’t be forgotten. So show up. Make the people in your life remember why you’re a blessing to them and why they are a blessing to you.
- If you get, what my sister calls, the “spirit chills” (a nudge from the Holy Spirit to do something, big or small) ALWAYS do it. You will absolutely never regret it. Being faithful to what God is asking you to do will bring so much joy. Free tip: Many times, spirit chills can be missed because they seem silly or down-right crazy. Once, I had the strongest urge to tell a complete stranger, who, may I add, was not talking to me on the elevator, that I suffer with anxiety. I don’t know what it was, but even in the silence, I could almost hear her crying out for help. I tried to make light of it, because that’s what I do when I’m super uncomfortable and frankly I had no idea why I felt the need to tell this woman something so personal. To my surprise, she immediately broke down. We ended up talking for 30 minutes about how broken she felt and how she simply didn’t want to live. She is doing okay these days. Yes, we still talk. Turns out, strangers become friends in the most divine ways.
- True, lasting friendships are rare. Do not take them for granted. I have many good friends and I’m very thankful for each one, but life happens – people get married, move, grow differently, or a 1,000 other reasons that can cause a drift. Don’t discount those friendships or lose touch with them. In the same regard, don’t beat yourself up about why you aren’t as close. But, if you are very lucky, you’ll have a select few friends that, despite any circumstance, your friendship looks a lot more like a solid oak tree than those pretty little white ones that give you terrible allergies every year.
- Alone time is a must. Find something you love to do, and do it alone. Whether it’s reading, going for walks, or being creative in some capacity…the list is endless. Whatever it is, do it. There is a unique and healthy freedom that comes once you learn how to enjoy your passions without waiting on someone to do them with you.
- Think before you speak. My grandma always says, “Be careful what you say, because what means little to you, could make or break someone else.” I’ve had some things said to me, good and bad, that have stuck with me for far longer than one could imagine. I’m confident I’ve said a thing or two that has been ingrained into someone’s heart as well. Words are much more powerful than we give them credit for.
Cheers to the cliche saying, “Growing wiser each year!”