Today is my last day of being a double decade. Before I become an OFFICIAL adult. Before I become the legal drinking age (which, trust me, I am definitely NOT gonna take advantage of that).

In 20 years of living, I’ve learned so much about life. About struggles. About friendships and relationships. About faith. Some of these enlightening things weren’t learned from family or from inspirational self-help books, but from inward, personal fighting, tidal waves of tears, and even, at times, “wrestling with God”. Sometimes, the best lessons learned are lessons through trials; I would often, under certain circumstances, have to learn the hard lessons the hard way. Here are the top things I’ve learned throughout my years of living life:

 

5. Do your best… God will handle the rest. This is often my advice when I’m teaching or helping to teach lower belts in taekwondo, but, if you really think on it, it’s advice applicable to all or at least most areas of life. I found this especially true in the academic areas of my life; if you go to class, do the homework and tests to the best of your ability, participate in class, make an all-out effort to learn, and trust that God’s going to help you through this, then honestly, you’ve done all you can do. And this advice is coming from somebody who got nominated for the Fall 2015’s Dean List!

4. Take care of both your physical health, and your spiritual health– it will take care of you in return. When I slacked in either, I would suffer in one area or another. When I didn’t read my Bible or pray as much, my faith would falter. When I didn’t exercise or monitor what I ate (or, in many instances, how much), my weight suffered and I found it harder to climb stairs, etc. The more time you spend reading God’s Word and spending time with Him in general, the more your faith will grow. The more you exercise, cut back, etc, the more your body will thank you.

3. Think of others, and be more considerate of their struggles. OK, it’s NOT just my high-functioning autism, although that may have played a factor in me thinking a lot of myself. Oh, I wouldn’t say I was/am completely selfish, but more like… self-aware than others-aware. But really, we honestly LIVE AND BREATHE IN a self-centered, selfish world that constantly preaches, “It should be all about, ME! ME! ME!” This past year in particular, when I first started an actual college instead of community college for my sophomore year, I made a lot of friends– and was challenged on the self-centered thinking I was used to. I realized I had it pretty good compared to some others, and was ashamed of my griping and whining about how miserable I thought could be, vowing to be there more for people. This is not just others-centered thinking, but is Christ-like selflessness– thinking of and putting the needs of others before your own needs (and wants/desires). This could be as simple as visiting a sick/lonely relative, helping to hold the door for someone who’s too occupied, or comforting a grieving friend. Even a “small” positive difference can make a HUGE positive impact on someone else’s life.

2. Sometimes, what makes you happy isn’t what is good for you– and that means sticking to your guns. No matter what. This was one of those “hard lessons”– one of the hardest I’d ever have to learn. And, unfortunately, I chose to learn it the hard way. Through blood, sweat, and tears. Through nighttime headaches and feeling miserable about what I had done. Through resisting what God really wanted from me, which was at the time the very last wanted.

Confession time. (About something I am horribly ashamed and disgraced to admit… for privacy purposes I will leave all members involved unnamed.)

Remember when I recently posted about ending a toxic friendship? Well, there was a lot more to it than that… You see, I have never, ever, EVER dated before. It was almost, at several points, a toxic relationship. But the idea of dating both excited and unnerved me. I had never had a guy complimenting me before. Never been flirted with. I thought I loved him at the time, but I think what it really was was “puppy love” (immature attraction) and love for all the attention that I had never before gotten. This was very bad reasoning for staying in such a situation. The main issue I had with him, however, was his being unsaved, and that hurt and angered him deeply, even after I tried explaining, on his level, he still didn’t “get” it. He eventually got a girlfriend soon after said fight, and while I tried my best to keep things platonic, he would often flirt with me behind her back (sometimes in very crude ways), saying it was “our little secret” and she wasn’t ever to know, leaving me with a mixture of feeling: the emotional half of me, of course, adored the attention, while the sensible side of me felt like a horrible person, an adultery-causing, trampish boyfriend-stealer, for enjoying the said attention and even encouraging it a little. Eventually, soon enough, all enjoyment died off completely and I wept and repented of my sin on-off for at least a year, I was so grief-stricken. I even befriended his girlfriend and asked her to take care of him for me, since I couldn’t (she knows nothing of all this, and for his sake more than hers I plan to keep it that way.). In between all of this, we would also sometimes have what I call “huge blowouts” in which he would get into an intense, verbally and emotionally abusive argument with me, then would cut me off for a month or so with the silent treatment. Additionally, he would make me sometimes question my faith– another huge red flag– which I initially (and very foolishly) ignored. While he wasn’t as abusive as many other stories I’ve heard, I’ve gotten numerous signs and nudges from God’s Spirit telling me it was time to call it quits on our friendship, before reluctantly agreeing to do so.

So I gained wisdom, but I came out from my unfortunate experience a much sadder girl, and one with a chunk of her heart missing at that. (That is the reason today that I am now extremely reluctant to/terrified to date… I don’t want to unintentionally break any more hearts, and I feel like I’ve caused enough damage already.)

Long story short, as I said in previous post, go down the Path God wants you to take– not necessarily the path you THINK will make you happy.

  1. In ALL things, keep God first. Yes, loving people is one of God’s greatest commands; in fact, it’s the Golden Rule. However, Jesus Himself made it clear in Matthew 22:36-38 that loving God is the first and greatest commandment; it doesn’t matter if the Golden Rule is the second greatest, God should come first. Always first.

 

….  I hope you have enjoyed/learned from this post. It was a struggle to write, especially the two confessions of my sin and of the times I was weak and caved to temptation. After all… no one likes to make their weakness made public. (Which is why this took courage, going out on a limb like this) But I write this in the hope that perhaps, somewhere, out there, someone like me has very much struggled with one or more of these things. And I want to feed them God’s hope and, more importantly, His Love. Hang in there… because God loves you. If you feel your best isn’t good enough, look to Him for strength. If you struggle with poor health habits, remember, your body– YOUR body!– is God’s Spirit’s dwelling place, His Holy Temple– honor it. If you’re struggling in keeping a consistent devotional time, find an accountability partner and MAKE time in your schedule. If you struggle with selfishness, as many of us do, take the time to be there for others and for God… The Ultimate Act of Love is Agape Love, Selfless Love. If you are doing or considering doing something that you want that you know God doesn’t, or that may openly contradict good moral sense, stop and please, please, please reconsider.

And above all… God is #1.

“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” …. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinth. 12:8-9a, 10, NKJV

For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would fail before Me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness I was angry and struck him; I hid and was angry, and he went on backsliding in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him, and restore comforts to him and to his mourners. “I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,” says the LORD, “And I will heal him.” Isaiah 57: 15-19, NKJV

Image credit: http://www.ask.com/government-politics/can-legally-turn-21-cfa2c0cc978b903b

 

 

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