On the Eve of Twenty-Five: 5 Self-Reflections This Birthday
On the eve of my twenty-fifth birthday, I wanted to write out a few much-needed reminders for myself as I step into this new chapter. There’s something about this birthday, this age, that is equal parts frightening and invigorating. Perhaps it’s invigorating because I’m at peace, for the most part, with where my life is heading. The frightening aspect likely has something to do with knowing as you get older, the world expects more of you. It demands you make wiser decisions, be more knowledgeable of what to do and say in any given situation. But even if I were following the perfect script of my life, not everything would turn out perfectly, and that needs to be okay—with me and the people around me. I know I’m doing the best I can.
With that expressed, as the years ahead of me continue to unfold, I hope these reflections serve not only myself, but anyone in need of such reminders, too.
Relationships Are learned.
When it comes to relationships—familial, friendly, or romantic—, you’ll experience a multitude of trials, some happy and some despairing. Take it one day at a time. Show up for people the best you can. Place boundaries when necessary to protect your spiritual life. Know that you’ll likely endure all that comes with deep bonds, including disappointment, loss, and betrayal because we’re all broken and imperfect. But the happiness you experience, the adventures, the growth, and the laughter is worth any measure of hardship. These things are not taught; life will teach you. Be receptive to learning what it means to love.
Be careful not to weaponize what you believe.
There’s a difference between offering up the wisdom God’s given you for someone else’s good, and weaponizing it to corner them into doing what you would have them do, even if it aligns with God’s will. The path you’ve chosen is narrow—in ministry and Christianity in general—but it was your choice. Be humble in your walk, learn from those who’ve walked before you and those walking beside and behind. Don’t think yourself above reproach. If you find you’re utilizing Scripture to satisfy your desires, remove yourself from the situation, and seek fellowship in those who know better. Never forget you have as much influence to heal with your convictions as you have power to harm with them, all depending on how you share them and with what reasons you do so. Be sensitive to others’ stories, remembering that you share the same Author.
Your value is not scalable.
Be a good steward of your body, including your opinion of it. The modern world will attempt to capitalize on your insecurities, driving you further into a perception that your exterior is the only valuable part of you. But your value is not scalable. Despite what culture would have you believe, it’s not your job to live up to a physical ideal you didn’t create for yourself, especially one created by someone other than God. You have too much work to do to stand in front of the bathroom mirror, analyzing the circumference of your thighs. You would not see your friends do so, and you will not see yourself. Take care of what God’s gifted you, a physicality intricately made to function and fight for you, no matter what it faces.
Stop being afraid to create for the Kingdom.
You were given your creative abilities for a reason, one that transcends yourself in importance. Stop being afraid of your writing, of who it may offend, of which literary agent or publishing house will reject it, and write. You will only find your voice with practice, as you’ve seen among the essays on this site. Allot yourself just enough courage to believe in what you can do and let God do what He wills with the rest. If it’s for the advancement of His Kingdom work on earth, your writing career will be more fruitful than you could hope to dream. So sit down. Write.
Forgiveness is a lifestyle. Peace is a choice.
Forgive your shortcomings. All the words you shouldn’t have said. The judgments you shouldn’t have made. Let go of what has already let go of you, and don’t let the anxiety of those losses pervade your sense of purpose. God designed you with extraordinary intention. His opinion of you and your life is the only one that matters in the end. With that, pursue peace. To live peacefully with the people in your life, you must first be at peace with yourself. And that starts with forgiveness. Be solution-oriented, entering unavoidable struggles with unrestrained empathy. Knowing you will make mistakes, sometimes the same ones repeatedly, regard yourself with the gentle love God has for you, the kind you would show your child when they mess up. Then extend that to others. All of it can be learned from, all of it used for a greater good.
So forgive, and remember that peace is a choice to be remade with every new day.