It’s my 30th birthday today. When I woke up to my family singing “Happy Birthday” as they brought me breakfast in bed (I love them so much!), a line from a song kept going through my head. “To tell you my story is to tell of Him.”
Every story I have to tell you about my life, in the perfect and the very imperfect moments, speaks of God’s grace, faithfulness, patience, and goodness.
I’ve lived through obesity and divorce, things I never wanted to experience, but have learned to overcome and even be thankful for. I’ve loved people hard and been showered with blessing upon blessing.
I am so thankful that with every passing year, I gain more experiences, more insights, and more wisdom. I certainly have much more to learn, but here are 30 of the life lessons I have gained so far in my 30 years on earth.
1. Find out who you are and embrace it
You were made to be uniquely you with certain gifts and strengths that nobody else has! I used to try to hide every weakness I had, which sure takes a lot of work. Be okay with being you – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Find out what sets you apart. How will you ever discover those things if you just keep trying to be like everybody else? Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to stand out.
2. Listen to other peoples’ stories
Take the time to stop and ask about what others have gone through. Listen. Connect with them. Learn from them. Whether it’s your grandmother, your friend’s teenage son, the woman sitting next to you on the plane, or the retired gentleman at church – everyone has a story to tell. Every story you hear opens up your world just a little bit more.
3. Always err on the side of grace
This is one of the guiding principles in my life, in both the huge decisions and the small everyday choices. When I’m driving in rush hour or when I’m making a relationship-altering decision, the same concept applies, even when it’s unfair and inconvenient.
4. Do your best and let that be good enough
Speaking of grace, show some of that to yourself, as well. Chances are, you are harder on yourself than you are on anyone else in your life. Do the best you can and let God fill in your gaps.
5. You’re not the only one
Fear can be so lonely and isolating. It separates us from people and convinces us to hide and deny pieces of ourselves. Don’t let it have that control over your life. Share your struggles with those safe people in your life and you will find that you are not the only one. When you do so, fear loosens its grip. You are not the only one.
6. Savor good food
Stop dieting and forbidding yourself to eat the foods you love the most. If you allow yourself to enjoy food, not binge eating or stuffing yourself in secret, but stopping to really taste it and savor its goodness, it adds a whole new depth of enjoyment to life.
7. Don’t wait for joy to fall into your lap – reach out and capture it!
You could spend your whole life waiting to be truly joyful. You could wait for the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect spouse, the perfect kids…but you would spend your whole life waiting. Joy is all around you – reach out and grab it! Plan activities you enjoy, spend time with people you care about, and create a life that you fall madly in love with living.
8. There’s a time to stay in your comfort zone and a time to leap out of it
Having a comfort zone is great. You should have safe people and safe places to depend on, but don’t stay there all the time. Meet new people, try new things, challenge yourself to grow! You are capable of so much more than you know.
9. Loving someone does not mean giving them everything they want.
Oh, this was a tough one to wrap my people-pleasing heart around! When I love someone, I want to shower them with everything their hearts desire! But that’s not love. Love is patient, kind, peace-loving, and selfless. It protects and perseveres, but whether it’s your child or your spouse, work for their good in the bigger picture, not just the here and now.
10. Time really does do wonders for healing wounds
There have been times in my life where I was sure that the feeling of my heart shattering was worse than any physical wound could have been. I had no idea how I would survive, even just the next 5 minutes. But I did. And then I survived 5 minutes more and 5 minutes more after that. Time doesn’t minimize your pain, it just gives you some distance and assures you that, even if you feel like you can’t, you will get through it.
11. Balance is dynamic
There is no formula for the perfect “balanced life.” It ebbs and flows and if you keep trying to shove everything into nice, neat little boxes, you are just going to waste your energy and end up feeling frustrated and defeated. Go with the flow and adjust as you need to.
12. Keep going, even when you don’t see progress
It is all too easy to give up as soon as things get difficult. I know, because I’ve done it! And I can usually justify that decision, too. But when I’ve pushed through and focused on consistency over quick results, that’s when I grow the most and make the biggest impact.
13. Set healthy boundaries in your relationships
Whether it’s a friend, a family member, or a significant other, set healthy boundaries. It’s not a limit to how much you love them. It’s creating a healthy environment of godliness, trust, and respect for you both.
14. Assume positive intent
It strengthens and saves relationships. Sometimes you may be wrong, but that’s a much better alternative than living every day believing the world is out to get you.
15. Your happiness should not rest on anybody else’s shoulders
You should not be depending on any person in your life to “make” you happy. I hope they do things that do make you happy, but it’s not their job. Setting that expectation just ends in disappointment.
16. It is not your job to make someone else happy
Just like your happiness can’t rest on someone else’s shoulders, you can’t accept that burden on your own shoulders, either. It’s too much for any person to bear.
17. God brings good out of even the worst situations
I’m living proof that He brings beauty from ashes. It doesn’t always make sense and it sure doesn’t feel good in those worst of times, but He can transform the most painful devastation into joy and hope.
18. It’s worth it to let people in
Find loving people and invite them into your life. Be real. Be vulnerable. Those are the most powerful relationships of all.
19. Accept that you will always be imperfect
Strive for perfection, but don’t expect to reach it. You can’t! Nobody can. There’s a reason we need a Savior. Alone, we are not strong enough, wise enough, or equipped enough to handle all that life throws at us. But if you can accept your imperfections and allow Christ’s power to shine through them? You have all you could ever need and then some.
20. Beware of the comparison trap
Watch yourself on social media. Don’t compare someone else’s picture-perfect moments to your behind-the-scenes. Focus more energy into be thankful for what you have than desiring what you want.
21. Write down your blessings
Gratitude journals are like yearbooks where you can record all of your answered prayers. Flip through it during the hard times and use it as a reminder of His goodness, faithfulness, and provision.
22. Pray first
Whether you are mad, heartbroken, elated, stressed, or twitterpated, train yourself to let prayer be your first response. It’s powerful stuff and it invites God into every detail of your life.
23. Accept help
Life is hard and you were not meant to go through it alone. Don’t let your pride convince you that you have to be strong enough to do it all on your own. When people offer help, learn to gratefully and gracefully accept it.
24. Kindness speaks loudly
Be kind as often as possible. At the supermarket, on the highway, at work, talking to telemarketers, and within the walls of your home.
25. You are worth more than you know
You are more than your weight, your bank account, your degree, or your job title. You are beautifully and wonderfully made and dearly loved. Grasping that truth is life-changing.
26. Exercise regularly
Don’t just do it to lose weight or look better. Do it to be happier, to get sick less often, to have less aches and pains, and to boost your confidence.
27. Respond wisely
You don’t get to choose what happens to you. You can’t control a whole lot of things in life, but you can control how you respond to them. Don’t shove your emotions aside, but don’t allow them to dictate all of your decisions either.
28. Soul mates don’t have to be romantic
To be truly known and still deeply loved is a beautiful gift. I hope I do find a soul mate who I love romantically someday, but in the meantime, having a friend that I connect with who understands me on pretty much every level is one of the greatest blessings I have ever experienced.
29. When your goals feel overwhelming, tackle them one small change at a time
It’s how I lost 100 pounds. It’s how I’m building my own business. It’s how I get myself unstuck when it feels like I can’t do it. You can do just about anything when you take it one small change at a time.
30. It’s a journey, not a destination
I used to believe there would be a day when I would “arrive” and everything in my life would be in its proper place. I would have the house, the kids, the relationships, the job, the schedule, and the workout routine all figured out. At that point, I would just start coasting through life. Yeah…it doesn’t work like that. But that doesn’t make it any less beautiful.
My life is nothing like I thought it would be at 30. There are still things I hope and long for, but the title of my site never ceases to be true – I am so very blessed.