Goodbye 25: A Personal Response to Shauna Niequist

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September’s here again… birthday month! Time to say goodbye 25. Yikes. It hasn’t been all sunflowers, but it has been bright.

As I reflected on the past year’s accomplishments, lessons learned, dreams that came true, etc., I decided to re-read a chapter in the book Bittersweet by my girl Shauna Niequist called, “What to Know When You’re 25 (ish).”

So, Shauna, I’m going to look back in retrospect to see if any of what you wrote was actually depicted in my 25th year of life.

JOBS: Now is the time to figure out what kind of work you love to do. What are you good at? What makes you feel alive? What do you dream about?

Leading up to 25 I merely had ideas of what I wanted to do. I’d been out of college for 2 years, during which I had a 2 year internship overseas working with refugees. The day-ins and day-outs of the job were both physically and emotionally draining, yet at the same time it was an all-around rewarding experience. Aside from the people I worked with, for the first time, the only influencer I had in my life was God. His Word, my sword. His Word, my light. His Word, my comfort. Alone, far from home, and away from the APU bubble, the path ahead of me was being scripted out of my relationship with God. He showed me my purpose, who I was made to be, what my gifts are, and how to use them. Without any other voices in my head, I began to dream about God’s vision for my life. And yes, Shauna, it was indeed at age 25 that I started gearing up to do what makes me feel alive.

RELATIONSHIPS: Now is also the time to get serious about relationships.

When I was 22 (totally single with no one in sight), I hinted to God that I’d really like it if I got married by age 25. I thought it was a long-shot. Not for God. True to who He is, my prayer was answered, and on November 2nd, 2014, I became a wife. How’s that for serious, Shauna? I remember my wedding day vividly. Like a VHS movie, I’m able to rewind and play it back in my head, moment by moment. It was a happily-every-after kind of day, with the final scene going something like this:

Grabbing my new husband’s hand, we waltzed triumphantly through a tunnel of sparklers, extending handed and hugs and words of thanks. At the car (which on a side note had been hilariously crammed with balloons and goodies), I turned around and shouted what every ounce of my being had been screaming to say: “BEST DAY EVER!!!!”

For it truly had been and will forever be, the best day of my entire life.

COUNSELING: Unravel the knots that keep you from living a healthy whole life, and do it now, before any more time passes.

Shauna, I agree whole-heartedly. I started counseling my senior year of college and continued it post-grad with my mentor through a book called “A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer”, by Rusty Rustenbach. These counseling sessions opened my eyes to suppressed wounds and made room for healing I didn’t know I needed. It was especially helpful to have these things more-or-less sorted out by the time I got engaged, when my then fiancĂ© and I started our pre-marriage counseling together- I was 25.

CHURCH: Twenty-five is the perfect time to get involved in a church you love, no matter how different it is from the one you were a part of growing up.

I grew up in a well-established church of 5,000. The church I attend now is 30-50 and just celebrated its 3rd anniversary. Size and rank, these two churches cannot be more different. Heart-wise, both are solid. I never imagined leaving my old church, but now, at 25, I have the privilege of playing keys and leading worship with my rockstar husband at the latter. You have my word, Shauna, right now I wouldn’t trade encountering God in a small room with this international body of believers for anything else.

DON’T GET STUCK: Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. Walk away, try something new… This season is about becoming...

Ironically, Shauna, this past year I actually got stuck. However, by way of being stuck, I became. God used my being stuck to refine and reshape my understanding of my value not being in what I do for Him but in what He has done for me. For, a week after turning 25, my normal active, adventuring, energetic self ceased to exist.

To start, I broke my leg. Leg surgery was then followed by a rapid health decline revealing a deeper issue at stake. This newlymarried women spent her first days, weeks, months, and nearly a year as a wife who went to a doctor 3 times a week and spent the rest of her time on the couch or in bed [sleeping]. My husband had to cook for me. Plans got canceled. Social time was restricted. It was the opposite of what I had pictured this season to look like. For a girl who likes to try new things, for once, the new thing I got served did not agree me. REST? PAIN? CONFINEMENT? No thank you. Yet, in this season of being stuck, God showed me how stuck I really was. He used my 25th year of life to redefine my definition of my identity in Him- an identity I am humbled by.

An identity I will work on newly embracing and becoming as I turn a year closer to 100. A quarter century of my life complete.

Well, Shauna, that concludes my reflections. Thank you, for your predictably accurate description of What to Know When You’re 25 (ish). Now, any thoughts on 26?

Goodbye 25. I’ve now worn you proudly, both on and off the court. Don’t worry, you’ll be my jersey number forever.

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