23 Things I’ve Learned By 23

I was talking to a friend today about how being 23 actually feels like being an adult.  At 18 and 19, you’re still a teenager.  20, You can’t buy alcohol.  At 21 you can, but you’re probably stupid about it.  22, you’re recovering from your year of stupidity and trying to figure out who you are after college.  But at 23, you’re getting some traction on who you are and life with all of the apron strings cut, and realistically, your life is probably 1/4 over.  By this point, hopefully, you’ve actually got some wisdom and life experience under your belt.  So without further ado:

On being a responsible adult:

1.  It is worth it to make and follow a budget.  I learned this the hard way.  Just grow up and do it.  And plan for emergencies, because you never know when you’ll come home to find mushrooms growing out of your wall.  No kidding.

2.  Working out, eating healthy, and sleeping a healthy amount boost my energy, creativity, memory, and overall kindness towards others.

3.  I may want a dog right now, but I probably don’t have the time or money to be responsible for one.  (Fortunately for me, Eli is responsible enough to have one, and Sophie is the greatest.)

4. I can make a ton of delicious, cheap things with quinoa, black beans, and a few veggies.

5.  Getting up early is usually worth it.

6.  Staying up ridiculously late is usually not.

On life in general:

7.  Reading is way better than watching TV.  No exceptions.

8.  Music, poetry, art, nature, etc. can all be extremely life-giving.

9.  Most–not all but most–things are only worth eating if they’re a vehicle for avocados or peanut butter.

10. “Your life begins where your comfort zone ends.”  My best experiences in life have all come from going places, doing things, and getting to know people that I naturally wouldn’t.

11.  Find a job that makes you come alive.  If you’re going to spend 35 hours a week, 52 weeks a year for approximately 40 years doing one thing, it better count.  And you better find a way to make it count in terms of eternity.  (I have a lot of room to grow in this).

12.  Part of growing up means owning my emotional baggage.  And not all baggage is bad; my parents taught me a ton of valuable, healthy, Godly things that I hope to pass on to my kids someday.  I have amazing parents, and I bet you do, too.

On relationships, platonic and otherwise:

13.  No matter how passionately I’m believe I’m right about issues relating to religion and politics, I probably don’t have all the information.  I need to be humble and willing to learn something.  That said, it’s okay to be a bit cynical when forming opinions about weighty things.  Fact-checking is important–don’t be a mindless consumer of trendy information sources.

14. Confrontation is not about me getting my point across, being heard, justified, or eliciting an apology.  It’s about reconciliation.  With that in mind, leave as many doors open for restoring the relationship as possible, even if there’s no resolve to the issue at hand.  Again, humility is key, as is putting others’ good ahead of your own.

15.  If you haven’t met “the one,” be thankful.  This means you have more time to mature into the person God made you to be before you meet them.

16.  Friendships nearly always change.  There are very few people you will be close to your whole life, and as hard as this is to accept, your friendship is probably replaceable to most people.  Don’t take that personally; it’s a reality of living in a highly mobile society, and it doesn’t mean you weren’t valued.

17. Don’t let the above keep you from loving people.  God delights in his people; so should we.

On spirituality:

18.  “Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people he has made?” – Francis Chan

19.  God’s plan for my life is good and acceptable and perfect.

20.  Jesus bore the whole world’s sin.  That means that by his wounds, I am healed not only of my sins, but also of the repercussions of others’ sins against me.

21.  There are always new depths of God to know.  Finding them is what glory to glory and strength to strength means, I think.

22.  Worship is the most transformational thing I can do because it takes my eyes off myself and plants them firmly on Jesus and the cross.  When I worship, I am proclaiming Jesus’ power over everything the enemy is doing to “steal, kill, and destroy” my life.  Fixing my eyes on Jesus is the only way to get rid of selfishness and find true joy.

23. Jesus is better than everything.  I can honestly say that in a very full 23 years of life, nothing has even come close to the joy and freedom and love I’ve known in him.

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Les Miserables Finale

Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light

For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.

They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord
They will walk behind the plough-share
They will put away the sword
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward!

Do You Hear The People Sing finale, Les Miserables. Here’s a New Year’s wish for our world!