As this year draws to a close,
upon hitting 23 and finishing university,
trying to earn enough to survive on (ah yes, I've joined the age-old rat race!) trying to build up a career,
but most of all, trying to handle this slippery bar of soap called Life and Adulthood--
here are a few reflections I found myself writing down.
~Do your devotions. Make it a habit and you won't regret it. It's like exercise. Making it a habit doesn't mean you're not going to struggle with it, (look at me, making resolutions on this for the third? fourth? year running) but it definitely helps.
~Come to church. Just come. Don't make excuses. There will always be reasons, no matter what time in your life, no matter your age, for you not to come, and it will never really be 'easier' at any one point in life, the way you imagine it will be, than it is now.
~Accept and use the church family as the community God has given to help and encourage you in your spiritual walk. Make friends. Find accountability partners. Find people to pray for, and people to pray for you. Learn to share burdens, griefs, and joys, learn to be vulnerable. Learn to love and walk together with people who are different from you, in age, in backgrounds, in culture, in personality.
~Perspective on life. This has been one of the greatest helps to me. Having the perspective to know that what you feel now--no matter how intensely--is not the ultimate meaning, or the most accurate representation of this event/time. Whether failing a test, losing a relationship, or making a stupid mistake, our emotions are strong, and it is devastating if we accept that what we feel/think then to be the one life-long interpretation of what happened. Which is seldom the case, as countless (often, forgotten) journal entries have proven repeatedly to me.
~Priorities. Realize that one of the biggest lessons during this period of life and the start of independence is discovering, deciding, and maintaining priorities. There will be sacrifices, but doesn't every choice we make--no matter what--result in some sort of sacrifice? (opportunity cost is the term I'm looking for, thanks economics) Being able to accept that and make our decisions based on that is sobering but also empowering.
~Don't cut your body short. Don't run on caffeine. Drink water. Get more sleep than a bare minimum, and pull as few all nighters as possible. Just because you can get away with it now doesn't mean you should. Annnnd it really contributes to your overall mood/attitude, especially if you've been feeling miserable and out of control with your life.
~Learn to say no. Without feeling it comes with personal implications. Without feeling the pressure to explain and defend yourself, without feeling guilty or inadequate. Consciously keep from over-committing yourself (this relates to priorities) Again, one of the biggest lessons I had to learn--but with the biggest returns.
~Spend time with people who aren't in your peer group or category--not just in terms of age; culturally, lingually, in social-background etc etc. Learn to widen your horizons and appreciate differences.
~Apologize. This takes courage and humility, and few people nowadays--sadly--have that. As Christians, this is one area that you can clearly be a witness, make a difference in. To your younger sibling, to someone you don't like, to your parents, to a kid, to someone who's been condescending to you. It's tough, but worth it.
~Don't be afraid to admit you don't know something, or to try something you're not good at, or to acknowledge your failures. It's very hard, especially when we're so anxious to appear grown-up--responsible--intelligent--to convince others, but most importantly ourselves, that we 'have our shit together,' that we are cool--poised--confident. But really. We're not actually, and it's hugely liberating, if scary, to acknowledge that that's okay. Because often we are our most merciless critics. I thought I'd outgrown this with my teen years but surprise, it just took an a different aspect, as an adult!
~Learn to listen. Learn also to talk--about what matters. As young people we tend to be all wrapped up in our own lives, which seem so much more exciting and important than say an elderly person's nostalgia or a child's breaking news. Sometimes we need to patiently--and humbly--learn to listen. (Of course, there's the flip-side too; but I personally tend to stray on the talk-too-much side of the spectrum)
Life goes by so fast. New Year's Eve celebrations and the transition they represent go by like fireworks that disappear almost instantly, and the next thing you know you're left in the alien darkness again, the same and yet different; feeling the uncomfortable deja vu of having done this so many times before, the novelty wearing off for that reason and not because you're any more prepared or confident than you were last year. I hope that by stopping and reflecting on it I can better understand and appreciate my experiences, myself, this gift of life I was given. To better use it.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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