20 Things I've Learned in 20 Years

Tomorrow is my 20th birthday (what?!?! when did I get so old?!?!) and I’ve spent a lot of time lately reflecting on all that I’ve learned in these twenty years. Two whole decades!!! That seems like forever, while also no time at all. In these twenty years I have grown, changed, been shaped, influenced, and taught. I’ve experienced a whole lot of grace and goodness, but also my fair share of hard seasons. The Lord has drawn near to me and opened my eyes to the beauty of His creation and the unwavering way He loves us all. I want to share with y’all t w e n t y specific things I’ve learned that are now core beliefs and important things that make me who I am today.

  1. I am a child of God.

What better place to start rather than the core of my identity? No matter who the world says I am, I know where my worth is found and whose I am. Because of the identity Christ gives me, I can rest assured and confident that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength, regardless of what others may believe or think. This truth is such an important part of who I am, I even got it tattooed here.

2. Mama always knows best.

Shoutout to my best friend Nelly. Even throughout all of the times I doubted your decisions, the times you wouldn’t let me go places, or times I told my friends “I’m sorry my mom is just sooo strict”, I can now see so evidently the ways you tried to protect me and help me become the person I am today. While moms aren’t always perfect (they’re human too and mess up!), they are always going to have your best interest at heart. That friend or boyfriend they have a bad gut feeling about— they’re probably right.

3. Not everyone is going to love me. And that’s totally okay.

I spent wayyyy too many years of my life focused on what others thought about me and ensuring I was always people-pleasing to make sure everybody loved me (any other enneagram 2’s out there? Asking for a friend here). But I’ve learned by now that there is no possible way to ever make everyone happy. Not everyone is going to like me, what I’m doing with my life, or how I’m choosing to handle certain situations. And the hardest thing it took me to come to, is that is totally okay. One of my favorite quotes ever says, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches”. Be you and own it, regardless of what others might think.

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4. Nothing of this world is ever going to fulfill me the way Jesus can.

Nope, nothing. Not instagram likes, attention from others, a job promotion, getting all A’s, partying, or truly anything of this world. It might sound blunt, but there is really nothing as fulfilling and life-giving than Jesus. He is the source of my joy and what keeps me going day in and day out.

5. Everyone deserves my love and respect. And that means everyone.

Remember the first thing I shared? I am a child of God. Something that has really impacted me lately is that while that is my identity, everyone else around me is a child of God as well and should be treated as such. You never know what someone might be going through, and the way you treat them could have a bigger impact on their heart and their day than you realize. Be kind, always.

6. It’s important to run after what you’re passionate about.

God has given us each so many amazing different gifts, and we should use them! If the Lord has given you a passion for something, chase after it!!! Don’t let anything stop you from reaching your dreams and fulfilling the goals you have set for yourself. And even if you don’t feel like you have a special talent or gift, you definitely do. You just might not have figured it out yet! Literally every single person has something beautiful to offer.

7. I don’t have to be perfect for God to love me.

It took me a long, long time to accept this truth. No matter how many times I read about it or heard stories of His love, there was always something in me that felt like I couldn’t mess up or had to be absolutely perfect for Him to love me that deeply. But nope, my friends, there is absolutely nothing we can do to make Him love us any less. What a beautiful gift that we are so undeserving of. Romans 8:38 states, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

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8. Don’t forget to remind the people in your life how much you love and appreciate them.

Not to be negative at all, but life is short and it’s wild how things can change in an instant. If you love someone, tell them (as cheesy as that might sound)! Make it a priority to remind your friends of their strengths, why you love them, and how thankful you are for all they do for you. These little reminders and encouragement can truly go a long way.

9. We get to make the choice to choose joy every day.

This Sunday Pastor Chris brought a message to Church of the Highlands about how we get to make the decision to choose joy regardless of our circumstances, and how in Christ there is an over-abundance of joy that He wants to give to us. We were made for so much more than living in sadness with a negative attitude every day. While I totally believe it’s important to talk about all those sad feelings and anxious moments with those close to you that you trust, there is also so much freedom and beauty that comes when we choose to have an attitude of joy every day. If you’re at all interested in watching his message (which I highly recommend) check it out here ! It’s kind of crazy because even before this message launched, I decided that my word of 2019 was going to be joy. It’s so cool how the Lord has shown up and is already reinforcing that in me this year.

10. Make time for things and people that matter to you.

One of my favorite song lyrics by Mumford and Sons says, “Where you invest your love, you invest your life”. This is so true and always makes me reflect on where exactly I’m investing my time and life into. Whether it be a coffee date with a friend, working out, studying, or quiet time with Jesus, if it’s a priority, you’ll make time for it. Life is definitely a balance and it can be hard to make this work, but if something is truly important to you, you’ll figure out how to fit it into your schedule.

11. Be bold.

I’ve never really been a shy person, but there’s so much joy out there when you choose to be bold and say hello to others, smile at that kid who sits next to you in class, or ask the cashier how their day is going (Audrey Ferguson, if you’re reading this, you are the most beautiful example of this). Truly everyone around us is going through things we might not even be able to imagine, and a little bit of kindness can go a long way. Let them see You in me, Jesus. I want to always strive to be a light for Christ in the way I treat others and go about my day.

12. Instead of comparing yourself to others, choose to celebrate their strengths because we are all made so uniquely beautiful and for a specific purpose.

Comparison truly is the thief of joy. I’ve found so much joy in instead of looking at girls around me as competition or only seeing the ways they excel beyond my abilities and looks, to celebrate that in them and cheer them on! We live in a society where everyone’s highlights and best moments are posted on the internet and it can be hard not to compare yourself to other people, but it’s important to know there’s a person beyond that perfectly filtered and curated screen, just like you and me. Everyone was made with such different gifts and abilities and strengths, and while someone might be very good at something, that doesn’t take away from the specific, wonderful talents you hold yourself! Everyone is beautiful and gifted in their own unique way and that’s something to celebrate in one another.

13. Spend time with your grandparents. They really really love ya.

Some of my favorite memories in the world have come from sleepovers at my grandparents house and what came after long car rides to see my other set of grandparents in North Carolina. Grandparents love their grandkids in such a special way and I’ve been so blessed to experience so many memories and good times with mine. Thankful for them always. Nonnie, Poppie, Momo, and Papa— I love y’all endlessly!

14. A hard work ethic will take you far.

If you’re willing to work for it, there’s few things out there you can’t accomplish. I truly believe there is so much you can achieve when you put in the work and put your mind to something. Nowadays I feel like some people can be so quick to give up and quit as soon as something gets tough, but things that are really worth it in life aren’t going to be easy. The hard work will pay off eventually. Keep pushing and hanging in there. It really can take you a long ways.

15. There’s so much freedom in forgiveness.

Forgiving someone who hurt you can feel like the hardest thing in the world sometimes. But something I’ve learned is that when we hold grudges and stay upset, it’s only hurting ourselves. That other person doesn’t know you’re still so upset, and it isn’t hurting them by staying angry. It’s only making your heart harder and more upset. There is so much freedom that you can experience by forgiving someone who wronged you. It doesn’t excuse what happens, but it allows you to move on and stop harboring those angry feelings.

16. There’s not much that ice cream & dog snuggles can’t fix.

While this might seem silly, there’s really nothing I love more than some cake batter ice cream and curling up on the couch with my two golden doodles after a hard day. Thank you Jesus for blessing me with these precious pups!!! While it might not be ice cream and puppies for you, find something that makes you feel relaxed and able to unwind. True rest is so crucial in this fast paced world we live in. Make time for that.

17. Listen first.

I am so guilty of being such a talker. I love to talk. To anyone, about anything. But there truly is such a gift you can give others when you are willing to stop talking, stop giving advice, stop offering your input and just listen to them. Sometimes all we need is a listening ear, and I’ve come to find how this can be such a blessing to other people when I simply put my thoughts and opinions aside and just listen to what they are going through and what they have to say. James 1:19 states, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”.

18. Patience is hard. But it’s oh so beautiful when you experience it.

Oh wow— God has been teaching me patience in this season of life lately. It’s never been a strength of mine but I love seeing how the Lord is weaving it into who I am and teaching me daily what that looks like. It’s also funny because I’ve prayed for better patience for so long and am now being given the opportunity to put it to work… He’s faithful like that. Even though having patience is hard and long and not at all fun, I’m thankful He’s developing this still and peaceful part of my heart.

19. No matter what happens, He is still good.
One of my favorite quotes is, “and if not, He is still good”. It’s in my instagram bio, hung up as a print in my room, and even a sticker on my laptop case. This serves as a constant reminder that no matter what my circumstances look like or how much I feel like my plans aren’t working out, that God is always good, always faithful, and always has my best interest at heart. His plans for me are good, even when they don’t match up to what I wanted them to look like. Praise the Lord that He knows way better than me.

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20. The best is yet to come.

There is so much more ahead of us than our current circumstances. I love the idea that so many of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet. There are so many moments to come full of belly laughs until we cry, actually crying tears of joy, and smiles from ear to ear because we just can’t contain the happiness inside of us. And not only to mention that while there are so many of these moments ahead of us on Earth, the Lord has life better than we could imagine for us in Heaven one day. And that’s something to look forward to.

Today I’m thanking God for these beautiful twenty years He has blessed me with and looking expectantly towards another incredible twenty more. Here’s to all that’s to come in year 20 and beyond!!!

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