Today I turned 30. To some that may seem incredibly ancient (like the 14-year-old who knows how to use Snapchat so much better than I do), to others it may be feel like a distant memory of better health and nimble limbs (or thicker eyebrows). Irrespective, upon entering a new era I began to take stock of my life. As I reflected upon the last three decades, the many lessons (big and small), intentional and accidental came flooding in. I'd love to share them with you. I hope they hit you where you need it and whet your appetite to live your life to the absolute full!
1. what really matters is what happens in us, not to us.
What happens on the inside of us (in our hearts, our thoughts and our emotions) has far more influence on the outcome of our lives than circumstances ever will. Life can be brutal. We all face issues, with real pain and substantial ramifications. The death of a loved one, the disappointment of losing a job, feelings of inadequacy, the fracture of a friendship or family unit. Life can hurt, a lot, but I've discovered in the moments of utter heartache and anguish we can choose how we react. We can tap into God's grace or allow our circumstances to swallow us up. We can choose to turn tragedy into triumph, trial into opportunity and failure into growth. How you respond to a situation, has the power to literally change the situation itself.
2. Live from love, not for it.
No matter how much water you pour in, if there’s a hole in the bucket it will always run dry. I've learnt (or should I say "am learning") to first receive love from my heavenly Father, then give it out. Far too often we put the key to our happiness and wholeness in someone else's pocket and wonder why we feel so empty inside. We struggle for significance and base our worth on other people's likes, comments and opinions. Or status, wealth, and accolades. We seek the approval of man, over the acceptance of God. Don't wait your whole life to learn this lesson. Let's be people that love ourselves from the inside out, comfortable in our our own skin, unfazed by comparison. Let's love from overflow and not from drought!
3. choose joy, over happiness.
Happiness is not enough, we need something with more substance. We need joy - and I believe that true joy only comes from God. Knowing Him and being known by Him. Joy is not dependent on what is going on around you, but is a settled assurance that God is in complete control of every detail of your life. It is the quiet confidence that everything will be okay, even when things are not okay.
4. The people closest to you will determine the direction of your life.
You may have heard the saying, "show me your friends, and I'll show you your future". It's true, homies. You become like those you hang around. "Birds of a feather flock together". So flock with people that will propel you into your destiny, not dampen your enthusiasm. Get around people that fuel your fire and feed not just your soul but your spirit too.
5. Forgiveness is VITAL.
You only have to live a little while and you'll realise people will let you down (including you and I). The sooner you learn to let go and forgive the healthier you'll be mind, body and soul. (Legit, I just did a whole chapter on in for uni). Forgiveness is a pro-social behaviour! Forgiveness doesn't mean what the other person did is okay. Forgiveness means letting them off the hook so you don't end up bitter and broken. They say resentment is like taking a poison pill and expecting the other person to die. Hit the nail on the head people. When we hold others in debt for their actions, it’s because often we have forgotten how much God has forgiven us. Forgiveness isn’t a feeling, it's a conscious decision. Forgiveness isn't a once off act, it's an continual attitude of grace and compassion.
6. Gratitude puts THINGS into perspective.
“There were people who went to sleep last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. And those dead folks would give anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of plowing. So you watch yourself about complaining. What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it." - Maya Angelou. Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. You can't be thankful and unhappy at the same time.
7. THE LITTLE THINGS, AREN'T ALWAYS SO LITTLE.
Often the things we take for granted are the most important things in life. The exchange of a deep conversation between friends, the excitement of a child running to greet a parent, the feeling of community (in family, church, sports, work). The most precious gifts we are given are often right in front of our face. They are people, not things. Good relationships are what actually bring us true happiness! (Again, psychology reinforces this philosophy!) And, hey, so does the bible!
8. your destiny is not a destination.
When I was young I thought that my destiny was to reach a certain destination. I thought my purpose was to be a Youth Pastor. So I became a Youth pastor. I then thought my purpose was to grow a big youth ministry. It grew and the cycle for more continued. The truth is our "purpose" in life is not to achieve a certain status, hold a specific title or accomplish a particular goal (although goals are good). Our "destiny" is to know God and be known by Him, it's to revel daily in His love and translate that love into acts of justice, compassion, hope and generosity. Our calling is to follow His leading wherever that may takes u. Our purpose is to give Him glory! It's the giving up of our gifts for His use and saying, "Your will, not mine." Every single day, in the mundane and the magnificent.
9. SOMETIMES WHAT YOU THINK YOU NEED, IS NOT WHAT YOU ACTUALLY NEED.
So often in life I found myself chasing things, titles, people, achievements and accolades to maintain a sense of self-worth and value. Only to be left unsatisfied.
At 10, I thought a needed a new Huffy bike to be cool (true story).
At 12, I thought I needed a boyfriend to call me beautiful and boost my ego.
At 14, I thought I needed the perfect body to feel good about myself
(and so people would stop thinking I was still in primary school, for real though).
At 17, I thought I needed to know exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
At 20, I thought I needed to find "Mr Right" and get married ASAP.
At 25, I thought I needed a baby to stick to the schedule of my life plan.
None of these things are bad in themselves, they just didn't fill the void. I got most of them, but was still unsatisfied. Only one person gives true life. His name is Jesus.
10. you never come second by putting god first.
P.S I think there is so much more in each of these points I may just have to write a full blog about each! You'll have to wait and see x
Much love. Be blessed, and know that you are so deeply loved.