Advice To My 20 Year Old Self
By the time this is published, I will have hit a milestone: 40 years of life. James writes, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (Jms 4:14). Every birthday, I can hear my Mom saying, “Each year is a gift from the Lord.” Instead of having a mid-life crisis, I want to celebrate the blessings of the life God has given me.
What do I wish I had understood earlier? What are some lessons God has taught me?
When I was in my early 20s, I met a lady, Ms. Sadie, who was in her 80s. She was feisty and quick to speak into the lives of the ladies staying in her home. She told me two things: First, she said to learn something that you can do for others as you get older. Second, she said not to worry about all the dust in your home…it will always be there.
Twenty years later, I realize this was her way of telling me to find ways to love and serve others and to focus on what really matters in life: the eternal.
So here are some of the blessings the Lord has been teaching me:
- Find ways to love people and serve them.
Ms. Sadie understood this. As I look around I can see such brokenness, hurt and loneliness. We have the answer…Jesus. We can be so caught up in our own lives, that we miss the opportunities God places in front of us every day.
- Do not try to do everything.
Seek the Lord as you walk with Him daily. He will direct your steps (Prov 3:5-6). Just because you are asked, just because there is a need, does not mean you are always the one to fill it.
- A Sabbath is God’s idea.
Do not neglect taking time to rest, refuel and spend time with the Lord. I am so thankful He is teaching me this, especially with the help of my husband! I am a Martha at heart, but the Lord desires for us to sit at His feet and to listen like Mary (Ex 20:8; Mk 2:27; Lk 10:39-42).
- Do not let fear hold you captive.
We are made to be free in Christ. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7).
- Focus more on the Lord’s opinion of you.
As a people pleaser, I have tried and failed to live up to the standards I felt others had for me. The truth is that I fall short, but I am thankful for the way God sees me as His child. Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 Jn 3:1a)
- Have a heart of discipleship.
First, we are to be a disciple of Christ and abide in His Word. I wish I had been more intentional about setting aside time every day to spend with Him and be in His Word, rather than be caught up in the many tasks and other time-stealers that I viewed as important. Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (Jn 8:31-32)
Second, we are to disciple and pour our lives into others. The Lord desires for us to help others in their walk with Him, to come alongside and encourage those He has placed in our lives to walk closer with the Lord. Admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. (Titus 2:4-5)
Not all will listen to you, but God desires for us to be His disciple and to disciple others. No matter what your age right now, you can influence those younger than you in the faith. Be intentional.
- Focus on what really matters
I have spent many days focused on having a clean house when I wish I had spent more time playing with my kids. I worried about what others thought of me and sought my satisfaction in other things, rather than in the Lord. He has a plan for each of our lives. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10)
I still have a lot to learn, but I am thankful for all that the Lord has shown me so far. I am blessed. Life is a gift. No matter what your age is now, may you find the Lord’s blessings, love others well, and focus on what really matters.