You only turn 33 once, and today is my day. 😉 As I’ve reflected over some of the things I’ve learned in my years on this earth, I decided to record 33 of them on the blog today. Here is my list in no particular order. What would you add?
1. Reading is a joy that deserves your time. Read to learn, read to enjoy, read to escape, read to relate, read to unwind.
2. Take care of your body. Eat a balanced diet, exercise whenever you can, moisturize, get a good night’s sleep, work to maintain your spiritual and emotional health. These are all key to being able to truly take care of those you love.
3. Never take the lives of those you love for granted. I don’t think it’s possible to fully comprehend how to do this until you’ve come close to or have actually lost someone dear to you, but do your best. The pain of loss can’t be prevented when it happens, but it’s not quite as sharp if you don’t have lingering regrets.
4. Comparison is a dangerous friend. Don’t compare yourself to others; don’t compare one season of your life to another. It’s an exercise that will both exhaust and confuse you while keeping your from fully appreciating the life you have right now.
5. Wolves in sheep’s clothing are real. They’re dangerous and will attempt to devastate you. God is stronger than them, and He will ultimately be victorious, but be on guard and depend on Him for discernment and deliverance.
6. Now that I’ve had a taste of working outside the home part time after five years as a stay-at-home mom, I’ve learned numerous invaluable lessons. One of the biggest ones is the ability to say with confidence that being a mom is just as hard and rewarding whether you’re home with your kids 24/7 or not. (See number four about comparison.)
7. Hold onto good friends.
8. Find a hobby and carve out time to invest in it at least once a month.
9. Go on at least one date a month with your spouse. No matter how much you believe you’re being a great parent, employee, steward, or whatever adjective you want to believe to be true by putting it off, you’re only fooling yourself.
10. Parenting is not about you. It is in the sense that you have countless opportunities to learn how to improve yourself, but you have an obligation to let go of your children a little more each year that they live so they can be their own people.
12. That being said, your kids will never outgrow needing you on some level, so you have the gift of parenthood for your entire life. Do your best to find a healthy balance of being involved in all seasons of their lives.
13. You will never make everyone happy all of the time, and this is okay!
14. You can have wisdom! Pray for it. (“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5)
15. The Bible mentions the importance of rest, waiting, and being still far more times than our culture’s demands make you believe you need to be busy. Busyness does not equal a successful and fulfilling life.
16. Don’t take your health for granted. Each day that you feel good is a gift of grace, and there are many people who aren’t given that privilege. Cherish the days your feel strong, and ask God for strength on the days that are rough. Trust Him and thank Him in both circumstances.
17. No matter how many years and earnest efforts you put into being good all of the time, you will eventually need an abundant dose of grace.
18. Thank God every day for something you love and something that is a challenge for you to enjoy. Gratitude is a natural product of spiritual maturity.
19. Prayer is powerful – really, really powerful. God has changed His mind on more than one occasion after listening to the prayers of His people.
20. Life is not about here. It’s about the future, eternal hope we have in Jesus. When life seems to keep getting crummier, remember that heaven is where our treasure lies. You aren’t to the place where it’s all worth it yet, so just keep waiting for it.
21. Anxiety is a beast that wants to destroy your life. It can attack when you’re vulnerable and even when you think you’re going strong. Never stop fighting it with Truth. (Philippians 4:8 – “Finally brothers, whatever things are true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about things.”)
22. Perspective is one of the essentials to living a free, happy, peaceful life. Life can be hard, but God is always good. We all face seasons that are abundant in fun as well as times of trial. We need all of them.
23. You do not have to be defined by what others believe to be true about you, so choose not to be. Instead be defined by God’s love and grace.
24. You are able to survive on less than what you think you need.
25. You are never going to have it all together. Embracing this fact and owning your strengths and weaknesses are incredibly freeing and allows you the opportunity to relate to others and let go of the comparison game just a little bit more.
26. You don’t have to have all of the answers to trust God. The world is full of confusing and heartbreaking situations. Spending all of your energy to try figuring out why bad things happen will deplete your hope. It’s not your job to understand, it’s just your job to trust God. (Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”)
27. Love. It’s one of the most misunderstood words in the world. The expectations and definitions that the world, and even at times the church, place upon it are skewed. Look to the very One who is love’s originator to see it define and transform your life. The world will know you are God’s by your love. (John 13:34-35 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”)
28. God’s will for you life is not a specific job that you are never to waiver from throughout your life. His will for you is to fear Him, love Him and others, serve Him, and follow Him through each season of your life. The way you do that will change as you change. Just because you had success doing something in the past doesn’t mean you should do it forever.
29. Don’t resist dreaming. God has dreams for you, so you should dream about them, too.
30. There’s much learning that happens in the waiting. Enjoy the waiting periods in your life, but be ready to let them go when it’s time to take action.
31. Be responsible for your words and actions. When you’re mad, vent your frustration privately. When you don’t know the whole story, don’t assume you do and spread false information. Gossip is one of the most deadly poisons. No matter who shares it with you and tempts you to join them in partaking of it, run away!
32. If you do something because you’re inspired by guilt, God is not the one inspiring you to do it.
33. Everything you create doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. Strive for good, flaws and all. You never know what “good things” you share with the world will be a catalyst to change someone’s life for the better. Those who are truly inspirational in the world let go of perfection and chose to be brave enough to be vulnerable.