Usually, commemorating another year on the planet would fall within a couple of days of the day itself. However, when I turned 25 on September 13th, I was in Iceland with no access to a laptop. And it was GLORIOUS. (See the end for a couple photos.)
Spending 10 days abroad with no laptop, no pressure to write and think was really nice. But I firmly believe that touchpoints like birthdays, the beginning of a new year (season…month…week…day), and the like are amazing opportunities to stop and remember. And 25 years was a substantial enough point that I felt the need to really sit with the years, think through them, and assess where I’ve come from and what God has done.
So, nearly a month after the fact, here are 25 things I’ve learned from the last 25 years that I feel like you should know:
- You will become a different person through different stages of life. It’s okay. Sometimes letting an old self die will feel like a funeral. That’s okay too.
- The Church is not perfect, but it’s worth fighting for, and it needs you. Serve it. Love it. Commit to it.
- Keep reading good books. And any way you consume a book counts (yes, that includes listening to it).
- You need exercise, but you don’t have to hate it. Find something that gets you moving that you love, and ignore the idiotic ideas we have about fitness. (No, how long it takes you to run a mile is not the only marker of athleticism.)
- Giving up meat is not that hard. It saves you money, it’s good for the planet, and it lets you find more animals cute without feeling guilty.
- You’re not God. You need to sleep. Channel a bear and try to hibernate at night.
- The Sabbath as a crucial practice didn’t disappear when Jesus came. You need a day where you cease doing and just practice BEING and communing with God.
- You don’t need to be a master chef, but you need to know how to cook a few things. Trust me.
- Do the thing that scares YOU. But know how to make yourself feel safe too. Adrenaline in doses is good but you also need security. Give the speech, but buy the weighted blanket and candles.
- Use a budget. It’s just a tool. It isn’t set in stone. Think of it as your money roadmap and reroute it as needed.
- And use your money well. Be generous. Learn how to invest. Financial stewardship is important.
- Relationships of any form don’t just HAPPEN. They need your time and attention. And, if you give your relationships time and attention, proximity is not a factor. But the relationships that last are the ones where both sides are equally committed to the romance/the family/the friendship/the fill-in-the-blank.
- Get out of debt as fast as you can. But buy the freaking coffee. One great drink won’t set you back 50 years.
- Don’t stay in a toxic job. If it’s eroding your boundaries and killing your spirit or causing you to set aside your ethics, it isn’t worth it. You CAN find another one – it isn’t the end of your career, and you don’t have to stay in a bad situation out of some false sense of obligation.
- But don’t quit a job just because it’s hard or someone hurts your feelings. Resilience hurts but grows. Commit unless there is a very good reason to not be committed.
- Travel as much as you can. Even if it’s to a different town in your state. Travel opens our eyes to the lives of others, lets us see beauty, and challenges us.
- If you start drinking coffee, not only will you have caffeine options wherever you go, but you will have a very sweet ritual too.
- Love your family. Commit to your family. Forgive your family. But don’t let genuinely toxic family members ignore your boundaries, and don’t feel like toxic behavior has to be ignored because you are related. Forgiveness erases any debt they owe you, but it doesn’t create an obligation of time spent together.
- Talk to people about your struggles. Vulnerability hurts at first but it takes weight off your shoulders.
- You don’t have to live a Pinterest worthy life. Live quietly, live faithfully. It’s enough.
- In our society that loves independence, know that God made you dependent. You NEED Scripture. You NEED prayer. You NEED community.
- It is always better to support policy instead of a political party or politician. When was the last time you saw policy wonks screaming at each other in the streets? (If you did see something like that, please send me the video. I would love to witness how a screaming match over Section 230 goes down.)
- You can think a lot of things are good and worth doing or achieving. The government is usually the worst vehicle to get things done.
- It is not always easy, but you should adopt a shelter pet. You’ll see how radically an animal can love and you’ll change a life.
- Tech addictions will kill your spirit. Frequently resist. Delete the apps. Turn off the phone. Outsmart the attention economy.
And, a +1 to complete the list:
Salvation through Christ is the only true hope and security you will have in life. The Gospel is that Jesus entered into His creation, lived the life we couldn’t live, died the death we deserve, and conquered death so that one day, only through Him, we will too. It’s THE good news, and I pray you accept it.
And now, a couple of Iceland photos: