24 Things I’ve Learned By 24, part 3

Part 3 of 3–are you ready for me to pull out the big guns?

This last year has marked tremendous growth in my life.  I haven’t learned much in quantity, but I’ve sifted and weighed nearly everything I believe about God.  And while this process is by no means over, I can declare with true humility that my faith is more deep and honest than ever before.  Certainly not because of myself, but because Jesus is determined that I would know him for who he truly is, no matter the cost.  So read on, if you dare.

On spirituality:

19.  If I cannot be authentic and vulnerable with God, it will be impossible for me to be authentic and vulnerable with people.  God has been saying this to me over and over for the last two months, and I could probably write a whole blog about it, but I’ll save the sermonizing for another time.  Suffice to say, my sometimes chaotic emotions and irrational insecurities don’t intimidate him or change what he thinks of me, and raw authenticity makes God’s love more visible in me and tangible for others.

20.  Gratitude increases faith.  Few things stir my faith like recounting the amazing things God has done in my life, especially out loud and to others when possible.

21.  I need to stop beating my head against the glass ceiling that exists for women in the Church (not my church, specifically, but the Church as a whole) and ask God to teleport me to the other side.  But maybe I’m just being lazy.  You can be sure I’ll expound on this later.

22.  Sometimes God’s most beautiful expressions of love and grace are delivered through our sin.  Pause to think about this for thirty seconds.  It’s an astounding reality.

23.  I will probably never stop being amazed by how patient and faithful and fiercely tenacious Jesus is.  I am far from being his most obedient follower, but that does not stop him from coming after me and remaking me–scars, sins, and all–into the woman he’s made me to be.

24. There is something sacred and powerful about music.  Every single breakthrough I’ve experienced in my relationship with God has happened during worship.  I can only remember a handful of sermons that have impacted me, which is a bit odd for me to confess since I’m more of a thinker than a feeler.  But those incredible moments when the perfect melody awakens my soul to the reality that I am standing face to face with the God who breathed the stars into existence…well, those moments have the power to transform like none other.

Thanks for reading.  Cheers to being 24 and to my mid-twenties!

24 Things I’ve Learned By 24, part 2

Picking up where I left off in part 1, I am about to impart the entirety of what I learned about human relationships in the last year (sorry, no pearls of wisdom about dog training just yet).  Feast your eyes.

On relationships, platonic and otherwise:

11.   Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you’re saying what they did is okay, that you’re over it, or that it doesn’t matter.  You can forgive someone and still be wounded, for years even.  Forgiveness is choosing to love someone who hurt you despite what they did, so far as it is in your power to do so (for me, this usually means a lot of prayer).  Forgiveness is giving your wounds to God and trusting him to heal them in his time and how he sees fit.  Trying to heal yourself will leave you even more broken and bitter than before; this I know well.

12.  On a related note, I have heard it said that if your identity is rooted in God, others will not have the power to hurt you or offend you.  That is simply not true.  As our brilliant friend C.S. Lewis writes in The Four Loves:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

The more my identity is rooted in God, the more I love people with an open and tender heart, which ultimately gives them power to hurt me.  Here is where I want to interject something like “The good news is, God meets you in your hurt,” but I can’t say that that is something I’ve truly learned yet.  Maybe next year.

13.  If you only make friends with people who share your humor, interests, or worldview, your social life will lack depth and you’ll miss out on tons of important things different people can teach you.

14. I don’t want to date Ashton Kutcher, or anyone remotely like him.  Trying to keep up or one-up in conversations with “the funny guy” can be totally draining.  Don’t get me wrong:  being able to laugh with someone is a crucial component to a healthy relationship, but at the end of the day I’d take depth over hilarity.

15.  Along those lines, it’s better to be lonely and single than lonely and in a relationship.  This gem comes from my mom, who spent a lot of years single and is full of wisdom like this.

16.  I can afford to spend a lot more time encouraging people and affirming the image of God in them than I do. Words have power, and I need to be much more conscious of how I use mine.

17.  I should also make a concerted effort to front-load my question-to-statement ratio.  I once heard someone comment that we, as insecure humans, often try harder to be interesting than interested.  I want to change this about myself.  And the best way I can think of to foster my natural curiosity about people is to ask more questions.

18.  I have to stop putting timetables on my friends’ grief and sadness.  Sometimes I find myself getting impatient with people who can’t get over things that I perceive as trivial or too long ago to matter, but ultimately I cannot fully understand the depth of another’s pain or how they handle grief.  Certainly, there are occasions when people need to stop wallowing and move on, but there are some sorrows that are too heavy to bear alone and take years to diminish.  Essentially, I’m learning to have compassion without understanding.

That’s all for now.  Next week will be the final installment of 24 Things.  Thanks for reading!