Ya know when you're a kid and you have this list of things you're going to accomplish by a certain age? I'm going to do this, go these places, be working at this job, etc. etc.
By 25, I'm going to have a job, my own place, be married and maybe be thinking about having a kid sometime in the next few years.
That was mine. I was bound determined as a youngin to have my life "figured out" by 25. If you know me though, you know those little dreams turned out about as polar opposite as can be.
Thomas Rhett says it best:
You never know what's gonna happen
You make your plans and you hear God laughing
Life changes, and I wouldn't change it for the world
You see, I'll be 25 this weekend and though my little "list" of things I wanted in life are nowhere near being checked off, life has been so much more than I could have imagined, and no, I in fact would not change it for the world.
There have been good times, there have been hard times, but what I've learned, especially in the past two years is this.. We can think we have everything figured out and we can make plans and think nothing will change, but the reality is, you can wake up one day and nothing could be the same.
It only takes one second for everything we have "figured out" to change. People change, dreams change, priorities change, feelings change, friendships change, plans change. Nothing is certain or promised in this life, and sometimes we forget that.
The only thing that remains through it all, consistent, constant, unchanging is Jesus' love for us. Through the ever-changing craziness of this life, I've been reminded of that time after time. More than once, I thought I had an idea of what I was doing and what was coming next, only to be surprised again. Notice I didn't say disappointed, because though at times I might have been temporarily feeling down and defeated, there was a purpose behind it and as time went on, I discovered that there was something much better that come from the "disappointment" I had faced and it was indeed a blessing in disguise.
The first four years of my twenties have been some of the best, but I don't want it to stay that way. Every year, I strive to keep looking ahead and make each day better than the previous. The first four years I've discovered a lot about myself and about others, and these four things have been key for me, and I hope they can resonate and inspire you as well.
1. Contentment. Whether things turned out like I was hoping or not, I've learned to be happy regardless of the outcome. The more life changes, the more I know it's working its way out to how it's meant to be. If something I'd hoped for doesn't work out, then I let it go. A "no" is just God's way of saying no-- wrong person, wrong job, wrong location, wrong ____ fill in the blank for what He's telling you. It's His way of protecting you from something less than the best that He's created for you. He will give you just what you need in His perfect timing. Dwelling on what's past, what's gone, what didn't work out, what's hurt you or I does nothing but take away from all of the wonderful moments in the present, and life is much too short to be anything but happy with the blessings we've been given, right here, right now.
Phillipians 4:12: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
2. Adventure. When I was a senior in college, I didn't want to be far from home at all. I wanted to live and work within an hour drive from home. Plot twist-- God wanted me on the East Coast for 4 months, then in Dallas, New York, Chicago, and Michigan. During those four months on the coast, I wasn't able to see my family one time. It was a huge adjustment for me, but you know what? It was incredible. Yes I missed them a ton, but the places and the people I met impacted my life in such powerful ways and seeing such diverse landscapes opened my eyes to how much beauty is out there. If you let Jesus have His way in you, He will change your life completely, I know that for certain. I'm not the same as I was then, nor the same as I was yesterday. Life is one huge adventure and He wants us to lead us through it-- He wants to take us out of our comfort zones. What does that mean for you? Has He been placing something on your heart, but you've been resisting because of fear, or it not being the right time or some other reason? There's no better time than now to take a chance and leap into the adventure He has created just for you. By living in fear, we miss out on the opportunities He wants us to have. We don't leap because it'll make us uncomfortable or we're nervous. Taking that leap could be the most nerve-wrecking thing you've ever done, but it could take you places you'd never imagine because our God is that big and can make impossible ideas or dreams come to life. Let go and let God.
3. Passion. I see unhappy people working jobs that they're okay with, but don't exactly get thrilled about going everyday, complaining more than being excited. If I'm going to be at a job for the next 40 years, I don't want to be miserable starting off in my 20s. So, when people think I'm crazy for bouncing around like I have and working in different industries, in different places, beside different teammates, I don't let it bother me. It's brought me so much happiness and through it, I've found what I'm passionate about, and learned what I know I don't want to do. It's given me the opportunity to write, to see, to live. God didn't create you and I to count down the seconds until the weekend- He created us each with a unique purpose. I don't want to live to get through the work day, I want to live and be passionate about what I do everyday, and that's to inspire, encourage, to be a light, and motivate people to be all that God created them to be. What's something that makes you excited, that you wish you could do everyday? What's stopping you from doing it? He didn't place those desires inside of you just for fun. They're there for a purpose, and He wants to use you in ways that only He can. Find what inspires you, and take hold of it and run with it because you're capable of anything and with Christ, you can do anything.*
4. Love. We live in a time of dating apps and lack of commitment, fear, and regret. Social media makes it easy to lie, cheat, and see all of the other "options" out there. It stinks, but that doesn't mean we need to live in a constant state of worry. Loving yourself and being comfortable with who you are is so important to do before teaming up to do life with someone, and I've learned that firsthand the past year. It's easy to feel not good enough or insecure, but that's not how we should be living and pursuing a relationship. We have to remember that we are loved so much just as we are-- all the goofy, weird, quirky aspects of who we are. Be who you are and don't ever change that for anyone. If someone doesn't like something about you, that doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. That's their loss. You're a darn gem and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If someone's path crosses yours and it's meant to be, then it'll be if it's meant to be. They will love you completely, unapologetically, every single piece of who you are. God brings people in and out of your life for a reason, so if you were with someone you swore you were going to marry and then surprise, God laughs at your plans, guess what... He has someone BETTER for you. It might crush ya a little bit at first, but remember.. if you thought you were happy in the wrong relationship, just imagine how happy you will be when the right one comes along.
I'm a lover, and I have a tendency to care a whole heck of a lot about anyone and everyone in my life. Sure, that might mean it's easier for me to get hurt, but I just think of it as life being too short to not love with everything you've got. Maybe it's because I know that at any moment, someone that means the world to me could take their last breath. Maybe it's because I know none of us are guaranteed another day on this earth so I just want to love big and love everyone. The world is pretty drained of love and kindness right now, and I don't think you could ever show too much love, so that's what I do. If it means I get hurt, I get hurt. That doesn't mean we become bitter or fearful, it just means we learn from the relationship, let it go, and prepare for the better ahead.
So, love. Love hard, love well, and love how you want to be loved- how you'd want someone to love your son or daughter someday. People aren't just things to be used- everyone has feelings, fears, failures, and insecurities. Don't expect to find anyone that is perfect because sorry to tell you, but no one-- not a single soul on this world-- is perfect. We're all perfectly imperfect and we all have our own stories that have made us into who we are. Don't lie about it, be vulnerable and be real because being real in a world of filters and enhancing tools might be scary, but could impact someone in ways that could change lives.
So no, little 10 year old Hilary's list hasn't been checked off, but 25 year old me wouldn't change it for the world. You never know what's going to happen, but what you can be reassured of is this: God has a plan and it will happen as it's supposed to. We're watching it unfold and we just have to trust His timing, because our boxes we want to check off in our timing are merely boxes on a list-- items that He may or may not have planned for us, but will be filled in if it's meant to be, at just the right moment.
Cheers to 25 and cheers to making every day the best day yet. I wish you all the same<3