The 20s are weird.
No, I don’t mean the 2020s—though it certainly has been a strange decade so far. I mean the 20-somethings, the age every kid wants to reach, the stage of life that many people might say are the best years of your life…
The age that is, well, underwhelming. And overwhelming. At the same time.
I admit, I’ve not been the best at appreciating my 20s. Ever since I graduated college at the age of 20, everything has felt pretty downhill from here. My gap year was a mess. Grad school was brutal. And fulltime career? Let me just say, it’s been a long six months. The thought of turning 25 next August absolutely terrifies me as I feel the existential pressure to look around me and ask, “What have I done with my life?”
There are many dreams that have yet to be fulfilled, most—if not all—I expected to reach by this point in life. Marriage. Having my first kid. My first traditionally published book, with maybe a few other book deals in the works. In the absence of those things becoming reality, I’ve jumped from idea to idea on how to make my life still feel fulfilling, even when it hasn’t gone like I planned.
In response to this mounting existential panic, I’ve tried to clamp down on controlling various aspects of my life. It got to the point where I was striving to get my life figured out first, to get settled, to make everything in my life look shiny and great, thinking that needed to happen before really digging deeper in my relationship with God. I’m slowly learning that the opposite is true: I’m meant to put Christ first, then let Him shape the rest of my life. He is what brings meaning to the mundane.
I am tempted, too, to let the silly, temporary trials of this world shatter my understanding of God. Doubt is not easy for me to stomach. It is not easy for me to own. I feel a bit embarrassed by it. I’ve built my own prideful tower on the rock of my own Christian upbringing, my own understanding, my own so-called “faithfulness.” I am like the Pharisee, self-righteous in my own religious might. I am like the crowd wanting to make Jesus an Earthly King, looking for the miraculous healing without understanding the True Purpose of Jesus. Whenever I believe or think that my life’s imperfections are punishment, or that my faith is a sham because of its imperfections, I preach a false Gospel to myself. The Gospel means nothing without the Cross, and Christianity always comes with a cost. Why am I so quick to forget that? I feel horrified now when I catch myself wrapped up in my navel-gazing thoughts, which make me question His sure, steadfast love for me.
Yet in the midst of all my troubled thoughts, when I find myself again in a time of transition and waiting, I recognize how He has grown me. By no power or might or self-improvement of my own, I am much more at peace in the uncertainty than I ever have been. I am unashamedly knocking on doors—some of them more daunting than others—and trusting God to open up the right one at the right time and lead me forward at the perfect moment. It is comforting how He has answered my prayers for faith and trust in that way.
At the same time, my next steps have never felt more murky. No choice ahead of me seems ideal. Everything comes with a sacrifice. Some options feel downright risky. My prayers for certainty and wisdom have not been answered with the clarity I hoped for. It’s challenging me to be patient. And challenging me to trust more deeply, to live out what I would profess to believe. It hurts, and it’s hard. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel worn out as this year draws to a close.
It’s funny to me that I seem to sound like a broken record at times. This perpetual cycle of waiting, of wandering, just keeps circling back again and again. Every time I think I finally get it, I’m humbled by how little I really “get.” There’s a lot more I could probably say, a lot more thoughts buzzing around in my head that still need to be processed. But I’ll end with this:
I suppose this Thanksgiving season, what I’m most thankful for is a God who is extremely patient with me, even as I return again and again to the same heart issues. I’m almost moved to tears of gratitude for what He is teaching me in this season of waiting, of longing, of uncertainty in the things of life and this world, because I know He is doing a good work in me and helping me see more clearly with His eyes. I rejoice that I follow a God who does not give up on me, who walks with me through the long night of sorrow, who writes a story for my life more perfect than I could possibly come up with on my own.