When I was fourteen, I thought I had my whole life figured out. I mean, life couldn’t be that complicated. And seriously, those orange patterned pants with the orange tank top I wore all summer were totally the “in” thing at the time.
But I was wrong. I didn’t have anything figured out and life was so much more complicated than I thought it would be.
I am now twenty-one years old and over these last twenty-one years of my life I have learned a lot. Of course, I don’t claim to know it all and I certainly don’t have life figured out. (But thankfully, my fashion taste has matured a lot since then. Can I get an amen?)
So here is a simple list of 21 things that I have learned in the last 21 years of my life. Not all of these lessons were easy…most of them still aren’t. But I’m learning and I’m growing. And I hope by reading this that you’ll learn and grow along with me.
Disappointment is inevitable. Don’t let it stop you from dreaming anyway. The greatest gift I would ever receive was the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. Every year I learn more about what it means to embrace this matchless, life-giving gift.
Everything that God does is good. Not easy. Good.
Don’t worry about what people think of you. Their opinion really doesn’t matter in the end. If you want to dance and sing in the grocery store produce aisle, go for it. (Coming from the almost twenty-one year old who did this yesterday.)
Life really is short. Dance in the rain (I like to dance, can you tell?). Take a drive just to roll the windows down and feel the wind in your face. Watch the sunset.
Life is also crazy busy. I’ve learned this so much as the years go by. Don’t get so caught up in the crazy that you miss the moments you love.
There’s a 98% chance your mom was right.
Don’t complain about work or chores. This past year I have battled chronic illness intensely. I have learned to appreciate the good health days. Especially the days where I have the energy to go to work or clean the house.
Your siblings are going to be your best friends. Yeah, they’re going to annoy you. And yes, they’re most likely going to make you very angry on occasion. But they really can be the best friends you’ve ever had.
Pray “Thy will be done” every day. This prayer has broken my heart and if I’m honest, I’d say it could break your heart too. When Jesus prayed it, He was so upset He sweat blood. It’s not easy, but it’s going to be good.
Jesus weeps through the pain with you (John 11:34-35). This past year, I have definitely cried my share of tears. But I do believe I have never wept alone.
Keep in touch with your friends. Don’t let distance separate you. Put effort into the
relationship. Invite them to lunch, FaceTime them, write a letter.
Memorize Scripture. It’ll change your life.
Never miss the opportunity to tell someone how much you love them. Sometimes it can be awkward to get all mushy and tell friends and family how you feel. Do it anyway while you can.
Humble yourself and apologize. You’re not right all the time. Be strong enough to admit it.
Never despise the day of small beginnings. Your time is coming. For now, keep serving where God has you. Keep dreaming and reaching for the stars.
Always keep dreaming. No matter how many people tell you it’s silly. No matter how hard it gets. Do. Not. Stop. Dreaming.
Stop making life a competition. Your success, your beauty, your hurt, and your dreams are not in competition with anyone else. God does not say “I have a plan for you as long as she doesn’t get the promotion first.” Nope. He says, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans that are good and give you hope.” (see Jeremiah 29:11) Start supporting and stop competing.
Give generously. Give of your time, money, talents, resources. We’ve been blessed to be
blessings. Go bless someone.
Don’t let pain make you someone that you are not. Sometimes life just hurts. And sometimes it hurts so deeply that it changes us. You are a survivor, not a victim. The Lord is the God who heals you. Let the pain hurt. And then let Him heal it.
Jesus Christ is worth it all. Following Jesus isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s downright difficult. But He’s worth it. He’s worth every hurt, every sacrifice, every painful choice. He is worth it all.
Life really is beautiful.
Cherish every moment.
Isabella Morganthal is a writer, dreamer, and child of God. She has published five books by His grace and blogs regularly over at her personal space on the internet: Worth it All blog. To God be the glory.