On Turning 26

I know I’ve had an extended hiatus from writing since February but I hope to be back now with at least some regularity. I turned 26 last week and am writing this short, belated birthday post about my three regrets of the past five years and my three hopes for the next five years.

The majority of my 20s have seemed to be a blur of bleak skies, deep darkness and wrenching heartbreak. And suddenly, here I am on the downhill slide to 30 and it’s really difficult not to feel like my youth has been wasted in one trial after another without a break through the clouds of my soul in nearly four years. This wearying and seemingly unending season is certainly not the glamorous life I’d always imagined my 20s would be: saturated with sunshine and ease.

Regrets

1- Sacrificing my youth to anything but the Lord

My first year as a Christian was the strongest and happiest I’ve experienced in these seven years. It’s been a difficult fight to keep that first innocent joy and I have come to realize that, in a way, we are not meant to cling to that joy at all. Our joy in the Lord should be like a child’s, yes, for before the Eternal One we are all young and unlearned. But joy itself should also mature and deepen with one’s years; it ought to be sharpened with every conquered sin, pruned with the sanctifying revelation of further sin in our lives, and its trajectory ought to grow and grow as we behold more and more the Source of Joy Himself as we walk through every sorrow and as we are wounded in every manner possible.

But instead, I have too often sacrificed my youthful years to idols–most of the worship of my own plans for my life and the bone-wearying yet addictive task of trying to make things happen on my own. I have wanted my own life and held it so tightly that I have questioned the Lord’s goodness and ability to make good things happen in my life–even though they don’t seem so good at the time.

2- Not denying myself more 

This year, I’ve become increasingly more convicted that day-to-day I put much more thought into what I want to eat and wear and how I want to have fun than I do about anything related to the Kingdom of the One who bled for me.

Food can be good. In all its variety, it is a good gift given to us to enrich our fleeting lives on this planet but it is never meant to overshadow the satisfaction to be had in the Lord. We should explore the food world and enjoy our favorite meals without guilt.  But may we never think food–which fills us for a few hours at most–could ever fill the voids in our hearts.

Clothing can be good. We are artistic creatures that imitate our Creator in that we love to mold, paint, write, dress, do makeup and a whole host of other artistic pursuits. We should feel free to have a unique style. But it should never become so central to our identity that we seek to glorify self in our creativity rather than the One who created color and is the source of all beauty.

Fun can be good. Enjoying time with friends in a multitude of different ways is what we’re built for. Campfires and board games and movie nights and anything else community-oriented is good for us. But it can never replace a relationship with our Creator and it should never be sought above living a life pleasing to God.

3- Not trusting other people

One of the deepest struggles of my life is to trust the intentions of other people. I question all motives and am fearful and mistrustful of sometimes even my closest friends. We are called to trust other believers but not place our faith in them.

Three Hopes

1-Become more steady in love

God’s love for us is steadfast. While only His love is a perfectly good, always seeking-good love, we are still called to imitate it and perfect the way we love the Church and the way we love unbelievers all the years of our lives. I hope that my love for others will become more steady and consistent internally rather than hinging on the impulse of the moment.

2-Grow in Discipline

Discipline has been, in many ways, an area of strength for me. However, in certain areas of stewardship I have not been vigilant and always pursuing growth so I hope to improve and strengthen those areas over the next years through submission to Christ and with the help of the Holy Spirit. I also hope to pursue contentment more steadily and thoroughly.

3- Heal

I have endured much in my life time and often feel the weight of it almost daily. At this point in my life, I am very weary in my inward spirit and many days I can do no more than plod along and not place my hope of full relief from the weight of my wounds in this life–only in the full presence of Christ.

Still, I hope the Lord will provide the resources for a modicum of healing that will allow me to go forth in life and thrive instead of just struggling to stay above water.

Whatever is ahead and however dark my days and thoughts grow and no matter how many of my dreams don’t come true, I know what He has is good no matter how hard it is to remember that or how deeply I struggle to believe it as a fact.

May I seek to serve myself less and others more and glorify God in both the big and small things I do.

Only He alone could produce such wonderful desires and the endurance to accomplish them!

Soli Deo Gloria!

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