This is the follow up to a blog I began last week. I will include the introduction again for context, but if you want to read all of Part 1, click here.
For any of you who don’t know, my husband is a student pastor. This means that he is in charge of the youth and college/career student ministry at our church. Working with people in their twenties has caused me to look back at that time of life for me. While, I made very few mistakes and obviously don’t have any regrets (yeah, right), there is some general advice that I wish I could tell all people at that stage of life. Some of which is advice that I wish I was given. For example,
You don’t have to fit a mold or meet anyone’s expectations:
We have this tendency to let the American Dream, our parents’ expectations, our friends judgement, and a multitude of other things, cloud out God’s expectations and will. Worse than that, we don’t realize that’s what’s happening. We fool ourselves into thinking that the dreams, expectations, and pressures of others are God’s expectations because typically they are not bad things. In fact, they are really good things, so God probably wants them for us too. However, just because things are good, does not mean that they are God’s best for us. They could be, but I think we should at least stop and consider if they are.
Let me give you an example of this. A few years into our marriage, my husband and I bought a house. At which time, I immediately began to seek to fill the house with children through foster care…because that’s what you do. You get married, get a house, and have kids. I never stopped to seek God’s will for my life when it came to children. I just assumed that’s what He would want for me. After all, isn’t that what He wants for everyone? Through a series of events, which I won’t get into here, God interceded to show me that, at least, at that point in our life, that was not His will for us. And you know what, after I really stopped to consider it, I realized that having kids was not really a desire of my heart. I was just going through the motions of what I thought I should do. Now, before you write me off completely, I am not saying that you should not have kids. For most people, that is the right decision. However we can’t assume that it is God’s will for everyone, no matter what people expect of us.
As Christians, we don’t have to meet anyone’s expectations for our lives, except for God’s. We don’t have to fit any mold that we might feel pressured by society to succumb to. We have the freedom in Christ to be exactly who He created us to be, nothing more and nothing less. There will always be pressure on us to meet the expectations of others, but I feel that pressure is intensified in our twenties. It is especially important at that stage in your life, as you are shaping your identity, that God’s expectations are the only ones that matter for your life. It’s really a freeing realization. At times, it will mean letting others down. The decisions that go against the norm will not always be popular, and people will be disappointed, but as long as we are seeking God’s approval and following His will, we will never have to be disappointed in our decisions. Oswald Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest that, “If we do a thing from a sense of duty, we are putting up a standard in competition with Jesus Christ”. Nothing should compete with Jesus Christ, not even good things that aren’t His best for us. Erwin McManus in Unleashed adds, “We need to find the courage and freedom to be ourselves. We need to let ourselves become the unique individuals that God created us to be. We need to stop trying to be what everyone else wants us to be and stop worrying about what everyone else thinks.” This isn’t just some fluke that has only happened to me. This need to please others above pleasing our God is an epidemic among Christians in our country, but you don’t have to fall victim to it. Decide now that you will seek God and His will above all else, even if it means disappointing those closest to you or not meeting others’ expectations.
Chase After God More than You Chase a Mate or the Ideal Life:
So many times in our twenties, and really throughout our life, we have this idea of how our life should be. We want to be married by this age or we will have this specific job (more than likely at this specific company or in this specific town). The problem is that most of the time, that idea is ours, not God’s. It could have started out as loosely based on something that God lead us to, but, man, we just run with it, don’t we? So much so, that by the time we’re finished with that dream, it barely resembles anything God said. So, then we spend most of our time chasing that idea, whether it be a job, a significant other, a certain social status, or some goal we have set for ourselves.
That idea, whatever it may be, becomes our focus, and we ask God to bless it. This is easy to do at any point in our life, but especially when we are at the stage of life when all of these things (a mate, a career, etc) tend to be the next step. It’s so easy to focus on those things and fool ourselves into thinking that we are still focused on God. We focus on who God is going to send us, what God wants us to do, or who He wants us to be, but we forget to get to know Him. We forget to pursue God above pursuing a mate, above pursuing a career. At all times of your life you have to be intentional about chasing God above all the things you are hoping He will give you and guide you to. And I promise you, He will provide. It might not be in the way we thought, but it will be in the exact way we need, at the exact time we need. Yes, we can pray for that thing that we so desperately want, but we have to remember to desire God more. Honestly, if we don’t desire Him more, then we’re really not ready for whatever it is that we are chasing.
Live Your Life:
Other people’s lives look awesome most of the time, don’t they? After all, most people don’t post the worst of them on social media. We tend to share just enough on those platforms to look human and relatable, without actually getting down to the messy parts of life. Which is exactly why it is so easy to put other people on a pedestal. The problem is that our lives will never be like theirs, because their life is not like that. So we’ve set this unachievable goal for our lives because of what we’ve seen from someone else, inevitably leaving us disappointed. It might not even be someone’s entire life, but it’s little tidbits. We want that person’s career, this other person’s joyful demeanor, his determination, her looks, etc. However, what we have to be aware of is that God didn’t intend us to lead their life. So, yes, we can learn from others, glean their wisdom, but don’t idolize them. Remember, they have their own struggles and a past that has brought them to the point they’re at, and you will have your own struggles that will bring you to the place God wants you. Let each person’s journey be their own, including yours.