It’s been four days since I turned 25, and I have to say that it wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be. In the months before, I might’ve had a couple of panic attacks at the thought of being a quarter of a century, but it came just as certain as the sunrise did this morning.
I feel like I know more people who dread their birthday than love it. Why is that?
Why do we shy away from celebrating another year that the Lord has gifted us? I think it has to do with expectation and comparison – both of which will kill you faster than fast food will, but that’s just my theory.
Remember when adults would ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up? And they would beam down at you from behind their bifocals or pantsuits, reeking of already-existing accomplishment?
You’d respond with something smart, like “a CEO,” “an astronaut,” or “the president.” While those are great answers, they’re not common career paths. The other 90% of the population (that’s you and me) work in some sort of office, crunching numbers and data – giving presentations and serving people. Is that bad? Did we miss the mark? Did we aim high and fall short?
No, we believed what every American and immigrant fought to believe in this country: if you work hard, dream big dreams, and shoot for success, you can be anything you want to be. And that success looks different for everyone.
When it comes to birthdays, I think that the Debbie-downers (typically, me) of the world choose to see the negative space – the gap between what we were aiming for and where we are now. And if you’ve gotten married, had kids, moved for your spouse’s job, or made a big life change that caused you to put your dream on hold, you may even hold some resentment deep in your heart about where you could be if it was just you. Maybe you even cashed in your dream for a steady paycheck. Or, maybe you don’t have a dream at all.
You know what question-phrase combo God hears from me the most?
“God, what’s next? I feel like I’m wasting your time. I need direction on what to do now.”
I think it’s my own warped version of: What is God’s will for my life?
And I’m sure God’s answer is, “I need you to appreciate where you are – in this season, in this city – and learn everything you can so that you are prepared for what I have next for you. You’ll know it when you see it.”
So, here’s 5 things I’ve learned in my 25 years of life:
- “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” – Carl Gustav Jung
I love making plans. My lists have lists. It’s not a super attractive trait because most people take that as I’m uptight and lack spontaneity, but I can be those things when I have margin for it. And my lists allow me to have margin. One thing is for sure though, if I never put my lists into action, my life will be as plain as the paper I wrote on. Words require action, not just well-meaning.
- “All the tasks that we think are important are only important because they take care of people.” – Shawn Parish
There will rarely be a time when my white-knuckled lists are more important than the people they affect. Even if you don’t work in ministry like me, you’re still trying to be like Jesus. Not once did Jesus ever say, “Guys, I have a feeling we need to go to Capernaum, but Nazareth is next on the agenda so…let’s get walkin’!” If Jesus felt led to do something, as the Son of God, He knew there was a person that needed Him.
- “Don’t treat people as bad as they are; treat them as good as you are.” – unknown
Sometimes I wonder if the world has always been this crazy and we’ve just shifted the crazy like a pendulum swing. Whatever the case, you will run into difficult people. How you handle difficult people will echo what’s in your heart. Be better, but stay humble.
- “Enough is abundance to the wise.” -Euripides
Whether it’s your family, your boss, or a former relationship/friendship, you know what it’s like to not be enough for someone. Put that burden down as soon as you can because it will weigh you down into some pretty horrible mental spaces. You have a responsibility to be whoever God has called you to be and if that is a problem for someone in your circle, that circle has become a cage. (Thanks, Nipsey Hussel.)
- “It’s okay that you’re not who you thought you would be.” – unknown
The crème de la crème: release yourself from the opinion that the culture demands you be further along in your life than you actually are. You know what’s cool? Individualism. I don’t want to be a cookie-cutter of society and if that makes me lame, sweet! The ship to popularity sailed long ago! The only person I owe my life to is Jesus Christ and I’ll move when He tells me to move.
I can hear you telling me through the screen that you wish you were 25 again. I don’t wish that for you. I wish you contentment – not complacency – in where you are because, if you’re doing what you’re doing really well, we’re looking to you on how to be successful or how to lead a family.
Don’t discount where you are because, believe it or not, we need you.
If you have any other advice for being a newly 25 year old, I’m happy to hear it! Post in the comments below.