From one friend to another here is some encouragement I’d give to my twenty-two year old self.
One: Hurting people hurt people.
You know those people who are sad and mean for no apparently reason? It’s like ice to a wound every time you talk with them? Remember, hurting people hurt people; it’s heals the wound a bit.
Two: Choose a neutral paint color in your living room.
When Kev and I moved to Birmingham we painted one of our walls in our living room (yes, only one) salmon pink. I’m still shaking my head in confusion.
Three: Marriage isn’t the end all.
Kevin and I married two weeks before my 22nd birthday. We were fresh out of college, bright eyed and idealistic. Marriage has opened my eyes to adulthood, responsibility, joy, and grief in ways nothing else could. But, it doesn’t complete me.
Four: Marriage isn’t for everyone right out of college.
One of my dearest college roommates has yet to get married. She is single and thriving as she works in Los Angeles. There some how became the notion that anyone happy and successful gets married right out of college and thats just not true. Don’t feel like you have to rush the ring.
Five: You don’t have to stay at that job.
Fresh out of college I took the first job I could get. It was a disaster and I somehow convinced myself I needed to be there at least a year for my resume. Life's too short to stay somewhere that crushes your soul.
Six: Don’t compare yourself to someone else’s “middle.”
Oh I love this thought a wise person once said! You know that person whose established and looks like they have their life together? And they are about ten years older than you? Yeah, we don’t need to get out our measuring sticks out to their level of success. We cant compare our beginning to their middle.
Seven: I’m not for everyone.
I am perky, overly excitable, full of expression, and I’m not for everyone. It doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate one another but sometimes we just won’t fully click. And, thats okay.
Eight: Fill in those eyebrows.
Seriously. Get a brow kit, watch a youtube tutorial and pencil those pretties in.
Nine: Openly talk about your struggles.
When I worked at said job above, I would frequently have panic attacks. Really bad ones where I felt like I couldn’t breath and that drained my desire to get up in the morning. My dad fell ill that year. I was so homesick after moving from California to Birmingham. But I began to talk about it all. As I did this I found healing. Then others began to open up with me. Transparency drops a pebble in the Pond of Faking and Hiding and sends ripples out to others that invite them to reciprocate. Be brave; tell someone.
Ten: Get involved in a local church.
You need the church and the church needs you. It’s lovely. It’s messy. It’s worth it.
Eleven: Buy a plant and then buy another.
Have you ever tried to take care of a plant? Oh my. It’s daunting task. But, I promise buy a plant and then when that one dies, buy another. Keep watering and watch them grow. Plant therapy is a thing.
Twelve: Take a Dave Ramsey course.
Right before Kevin and I got married we took a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course. You really should give it a try. We go back to the basics on a monthly basis. #snowballeffect
Thirteen: Grab a copy of The Gospel Centered Life.
Apart from the Bible this study guide has forever changed my life. It’s a small, light read with hearty life changing thoughts and convictions. Pick up a copy, grab a few friends and discover the beauty and power of the gospel in fresh and new ways.
Fourteen: Figure out what you're passionate about.
This is something that has taken me so much time. You don’t have to be passionate about what everyone else is passionate about. Don’t forsake what is in your heart simply to duplicate someone else's. For me it was putting down the brush and isle and picking up the camera.
Fifteen: Explore new places.
Kevin and I lucked out on this one. Considering we’re not from the Birmingham it has been one of our life goals to explore every inch of it and it is so good for the soul.
Sixteen: Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Spoken from a recovering perfectionist, it’s not worth it. Those people we see on Instagram have just as much pain and issues as we do. Give yourself the grace God freely bestows upon us.
Seventeen: Learn that we can’t forgive ourselves.
I was listening to a women speak once about how there’s no place in the Bible that says we need to forgive ourselves. Not one place. So why are we buried under guilt and shame and remorse for something we can’t ever lift away? Let forgiveness of your Father be enough.
Eighteen: Adopt a dog.
Or three. If you think plant therapy is a thing, try puppy therapy. ohmyword.
Nineteen: Figure out what rest looks like for you.
Sitting on my back porch or taking my pup for a walk are life giving to me. How can you fill up to best pour out?
Twenty: Learn to rest in the reality that we are the bad news and He is the good news.
If I could look at my twenty two year old self in the face, with tears welling up and a beaming heart I would shout that I am far more messed up that I ever imagined but I am far more loved that I could have ever hoped for. The good news of Jesus is good news because we are broken and weary and unrighteous. And yet he has given himself to us and for us. His performance on the cross and not mine is what counts before the Father. There is a profound safety in this reality that we need as we grow up. The finished work of Christ in our behalf which renders us lovely before the Father frees us to try and fail and not be crushed.