I asked 28 to surprise me, challenge me, and scare me and I spent many days of the past year asking myself why the heck did you do that? This past year absolutely scared me. I had days of feeling loneliness in such a deep and scary way. I also experienced the deep and beautiful feeling of community and family and the way we can love each other into wholeness. 28 definitely also challenged me and surprised me. I grew in ways I could not have foreseen, and have been pleasantly and not-so pleasantly surprised by the events of the year.
So to 28, I say “BOY BYEEE!” But really I will look back at you with gratitude for all the hard lessons and big growth. I will not look back for long because I am walking forward into new days, one day at a time — one step at a time. Walking forward with confidence in who God is, leaning fully on His consistent character, His overwhelming grace, and His perfect peace.
So 29, I promise to let you be exactly what you are supposed to be. As the last year of my twenties, it will be tempting to make you what I think you are supposed to be; to make things happen quickly, to figure things out, to get all my young adult ducks in a row. But I am going to take you one.dang.day at a time, letting life continue to surprise me, and maybe in that offering freedom to people coming behind me.
Life is all about the invitation. So 29, here are my invitations I feel you offering me and what I want to extend to those around me.
This year (and forever) I want to be characterized by kindness and grace.
Every morning I will repeat this mantra to myself, a breath prayer really: KINDNESS IS FREE. It costs me nothing; it is here in abundance. What I have learned is that in life it all boils down to kindness; ultimately I do not care about being impressive or rich or accomplished I really “just” want to be kind. Kindness is attractive. Kindness speaks life into people, like air inflating lungs. Choosing to be kind will never leave you in a worse spot.
I want to make time for people.
This will be a natural overflow of kindness. In the past year, I have learned that my need to always be on time should not be more of a priority than the person I am with in that moment. I don’t want the person sitting across from me to ever feel like I am already mentally at my next meeting. I want to make space and give time to what matters. Which, spoiler alert, is always the person right in front of us. (And it is never our phone or our Instagram caption. Literally never.) We can change lives with what we give our attention to; we can ruin lives (ours or others) by giving attention to the wrong things, destructive things, negative things, selfish things. And as usual, we can save each other and heal each other by giving attention to the right things. (Again, right thing = person right in front of us).
When this is hard, say to yourself, “how would my perspective change if I remembered that this person is an Image Bearer of our Savior?” Conviction will probably come, followed hopefully by a flood of grace and kindness.
Don’t over-complicate things.
Turns out overthinking things is something I am super good at! And by super good I mean I over-complicate like it is my job and it rarely, if ever, turns out well.
I went to Poland this summer and learned that people who are gluten free in America can actually eat the gluten in Poland. Also true for dairy free people. We over-process our health and food, and it has a negative impact on our lives. It is the same with our thought lives. When I over-process, I work myself into a bad head space and never actually “solve” anything.
My chiropractor once was pressing on a specifically painful organ in my gut and said, “This pain? This is from overthinking things.” I’m not joking. Ironically, for my brain at least, it seems to take more work to not overthink things. I naturally over-complicate. A friend and I like to joke that we are Enneagram type 2 with a 6 wing because we are so aware of all the worst case scenarios of all areas of our lives (while also never telling anyone what we are worried about because that could potentially burden others and we are 2s dangit! We are the helpers!).
When it comes to over-thinking, I often think of the imagery of trying to hold onto a butterfly. You have to let it go. Keeping it will surely cause greater problems.
I picture the inside of my brain as Fear running around in circles trying to find Answers and Solutions and Clarity and the whole gang is nowhere to be found so he just runs into walls instead. So let’s practice telling fear to sit down and take a break (we can still treat him with kindness — it is free). We will take this year and this life one day at a time, letting hope and JOY lead the way.
I plan on surrounding myself with these good things and also inviting trust, courage, mystery, and kindness to be my companions. Join me?