one year older. one year wiser.

March 3. One year older. One year wiser.

Today is my 35th birthday. It is peculiar. I do not feel 35, but then again, I don’t know what it should feel like. I questioned the accuracy of my birth year yesterday (just to make sure!), and my mother and the US government agree on 1982. My mama said she “was not only an on-site witness, she was there a day early, waiting on me to arrive!”

So there we have it: I am indeed 35. 

I have been reflecting this week over the last ten years of my life, namely, the lessons I have learned and areas where I have grown. Through intentional rumination and an enlightening session of self-debriefing, I have constructed a list of the top things I wish I had known (or listened to!) when I was younger. I hope this list speaks to all, regardless of age or gender or current season of life.

things i wish i had known 10 years ago….

1. Life does not end at 30! Seriously. Despite popular belief and urban legend, this is simply not true. Some may even argue that life does not begin until 30! So far, I am loving the 3-0 club! Quit thinking you are old. I will tell you like I tell my customers: OLD has three letters and therefore, three numbers!

2. Life comes in seasons, and the grass always looks greener on the other side. All seasons have their ups and downs, joys and heartaches, fears and victories. One is not better than another, just different. You cannot compare apples to oranges, so focus on enjoying your season because it will come to an end.

3. The storm is coming. It is unavoidable and impassable. Build your life on the firm foundation of Christ, the solid rock, and you will be able to weather the storm. Notice the psalmist does not say he will not be shaken at all, rather he will not be shaken greatly.

“He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.” – Psalm 62:2

“But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The LORD knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of the LORD depart from iniquity.'” – 2 Timothy 2:19

4. Friends come and go. People naturally gravitate towards others in the same life season, as common activities and interests change accordingly. Life is a beautiful blend of various stages of life and different time frames between them. Do not take it personally when a friend moves into another season without you. Do not fear that you have been left behind or left out. It is simply not your time to move into that season.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Be intentional in finding friends. Remember that to have a friend, you must be a friend.

5. Love where you are..right here, right now. God is faithful, and His time is perfect. You cannot fully enjoy anything when you are mostly absent. Embrace your current season of life, and make the most of it. The right here’s are not always pretty, and the right now’s are not always convenient. You never know what purpose God has for you in your current place. Keep God at the center of your life, and He will give you joy and purpose. my plans.

Think of the Queen Esther’s obedience to God’s call. She and her Jewish people throughout Persia and Media were facing imminent death and extinction. The encouraging words of Uncle Mordecai to his niece, the queen: “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14b

6. Time is precious. Spend it wisely. Find what is important to you, what matters to you, and invest your time there. Be respectful and mindful of other people’s time. Do not continue to engage in a relationship for which you see no future, simply for the sake of being in a relationship.

7. There is no vaccine to protect you against heartache. The body develops no immunity to heartbreak. Your heart will get shattered, and you will try your hardest to superglue it back together. Your fix will only be temporary. Let the master designer truly heal your broken heart. His powers far exceed your hot glue gun and duck tape collaboration.

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18

8. Mistakes are unavoidable. You will make them at work and in your personal life. Learn to recognize your error and make corrections with grace. Regrets will come, often at the worst possible times. Acknowledge and address them, but do not let them linger. Learn your lesson, forgive yourself (and others), and move on.

9. Social media life is not real. What you see on TV and on billboards is fabricated. People post only their best online. Don’t fall into the trap of wishing for their seemingly beautiful lives (see #2). Quit comparing yourself to a photo that has been staged, edited, and filtered. Focus on what is real and true. Heaven’s reward system is not based on jean size.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:2

10. You are complete in Christ. No exceptions. It is uncanny how easy it is to forget this simple truth. Do not condemn yourself when you do. Know that we all lose sight and wander off sometimes. Jesus can find you and heal your blindness. I expect that grasping the fullness of completion in Christ will be a lifelong journey. Fullness = completion

Through the power of the LORD through his disciple Ananias, Saul regained his sight and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was baptized, ate some dinner, and in his newfound strength, started seeking God and preaching on his journey to fullness in Christ (Acts 9).

“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend … and to know the love of christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:17-19

11. God speaks. Take time to talk to God. Make prayer part of your daily routine. He is always there to listen and wants to hear from you. The hardest lesson in prayer life I have (am still) learned is being quiet and listening. You will not hear his voice if you are talking the whole time. God has manners and does not often interrupt our chatter. Be still, be humble, be quiet, and seek Him earnestly in prayer. He will speak to you.

All passages are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible.