This is part of a series of posts, Thoughts to My Mid-Self, I started as I officially entered my mid-30s. I wanted to look back to my other mid-age ranged selves and speak some truth to myself then. I hope that, especially if you find yourself in that age range currently, you can learn something. If you are out of that age range too, then maybe you can look back on that range and give yourself some grace and recall what you've learned since then.
This too shall pass. Hold on-- it's gonna be a rollercoaster. So many highs and so many lows are about to hit you. The very best years of your life and some of the very hardest. Everyone seems to want to stay in their 20s forever, not you. I know you are ready to leave all the drama of the 20s behind you. You will. You will absolutely love your 30s. For now, let all the lessons of your 20s soak in.
You will find your career-- all the floundering isn't failure, it's experience. You will feel discouraged that you hop from career to career. That one job didn't work out like you expected and another was unfulfilling and another was heartbreaking. The constant thread in it all: God was growing you and each one taught you something. It's really funny to look back now because there is no way Sacred Holidays would be as successful without each of those jobs you were questioning God about then. You won't look back and feel frustrated any longer. You will see how what seemed like a haphazard plan, was so perfectly woven together for your good.
Your moms dating advice is crazy, don't listen to it (except for a good laugh). Your mom will start calling you for a weekly dating advice because she is concerned you will be an old maid. She will tell you to pull your shirt down a little "because even Christian guys like a little cleavage" or "Why don't you try going to different churches since there are so many services to choose from on Saturday and Sundays." Keep laughing at them. Also, she might randomly call someone she saw on Good Morning America because she thought y'all would be perfect together and set y'all up on a blind date. File this under things only your mom will do and laugh some more.
That guy that is SO not your type and you think he is just a friend, you are going to marry him. He is unlike any other guy you've ever dated and you are unlike any other girl he has ever liked. This was God's plan. You become really great friends before either of you even have an inkling of a crush. But one day you will sit at that outdoor table of Starbucks and have a little DTR (define the relationship). A couple of weeks later he will go with you to Thanksgiving with your family because he couldn't go home and you will know you will marry him. You are right.
4 1/2 months is just enough time to plan a wedding. People will gasp when they hear your engagement will only last 4 1/2 months, after all you've only dated for 8 months. You both know though. It's time. You are right. The wedding will be anything but Pinterest worthy, but it will be fun and you will remember it so fondly. Don't let yourself get stressed, it is what it is. Just focus on that guy in front of you. Spend your money wisely and say no to things that are frivolous. Your guests can eat dinner before hand, cake and snacks are more than enough. Don't wear heels, even though your mom says you should. Oh and don't forget to un-bussel your dress. You will really regret this, but one day you will laugh about it. It will also be the only thing you regret about this day. That's pretty good!
Chris will grow you more than you've ever known, he is your perfect balance. It's the thing most say about your relationship then and now-- you balance one another. This can be really hard a lot of the time. He is your opposite in nearly every way. You like the outdoors, he prefers inside. You like people, he likes alone time. You like new adventure, he likes to plan his course. You like to eat out, and he likes to eat in. You like to shop, he likes to save. You like to be sarcastic, he likes to be serious. You like a full calendar, he likes a cleared calendar. He is literal, you are figurative. You speak in exaggerations, he speaks in perfect accuracy. He is black and white, and you are every shade of grey. He likes to follow the rules, and you see rules as something to be... expanded. He likes dishes done before you've even finished your last bite, you like them to pile up and conversation to linger. He likes a show ready house, you like a lived in house. You are different.
The different will be hard at the beginning, but you will find it to become more and more beautiful each year.
Ignore that pre-marital counselor: you are not your parents. You will have a pre-marital counselor look you both in the eyes and say: "You are not well suited for one another. Your personalities don't match well and you both come from divorced homes. Every odd is against you." That person puts a good reality check on you and makes you stronger as a team. You are not your parents. Your God likes the odds.
Sex is awesome. Nine years in and you will wonder why the movies portray that sex with one person is a punishment or one of the biggest sacrifices getting married entails. Oh my goodness, it just gets better every single year. Those Cosmo writers and movie writers are all idiots.
That time you get stranded in Vegas, rent a car and drive back to Houston. It will be one of your favorite weeks ever.
Losing friends totally sucks. You are a people person but even more than that you are a your people person. Over the next coming years you will lose a few friends for various reason and it will crush you. You will put walls up keeping everyone else out. You still grieve the loss of those friendships and ache when their names are mentioned, but you are OK.
Don't put up the walls. Others, especially Chris, don't need to suffer because those people shattered your trust. Let others in, they won't hurt you. Spend less time trying to win those friendships back. When you make new friends, it's OK to be fully yourself. Don't hide. Don't put up this facade. Let others in. Until then, know that you have a tribe of women headed your way. You will sob giant tears one day over the answer to endless prayers for God to bring you your people. He will.
Don't buy that house-- it's not as glamorous as HGTV makes it look. God uses all things for good and so much good will come out of that place that you will find it hard to say that you shouldn't buy it. It's not just that house, because you made the best purchase you could've. You were smart with your money-- you didn't over buy or stress yourselves out. But you both weren't really ready to be home owners. It will make your first years of marriage harder. It will tie you up and keep you in. Turn off HGTV and go get an apartment.
Don't tolerate the gossip. There will be so much whirling around you. Stand up stronger to it. It's not OK. Gossip is not OK. Don't contribute to it. Don't tolerate it when you see it. Speak honestly with all people and when there is a chatter, stop it immediately. Too much chatter. It's so very stupid.
Work out, it's so easy now. You will think it's hard now but your life is so easy. You have SO much time even though you feel like you are constantly busy. You aren't. You just aren't. Your busy is all optional, one day your calendar will be monopolized by a husband, three beautiful girls, and a business. All things you will love your calendar and days being filled up with, but you will have very little free time. New habits require much more effort. So do this. Hit play on that DVD or actually train for that half marathon you've dreamed of doing. You can do this. Don't fear it.
Don't spend a dime of your paycheck. You and Chris will be advised not to ever live off your salary, but to pay off debt with it or save. You do that. In just a few years your financial standing is drastically changed because of all you've said no to in order to save that money.
You aren't as far from your calling as you think. You are confused by your day-to-day circumstances. You envisioned doing ministry differently, thinking it would be a full time gig. One day it might be. Today, it's not. Your counselor will tell you, "If God has called you to it, then you can trust that it will happen." She's right. Until then let this in between be a season of growing you. Also know that the in-between is filled with moments of ministry, you aren't as in-between as you think.
Teach and write even when the numbers are small. You will have a women's class you teach weekly with no more than 20 regulars. Stay faithful to this opportunity. The Lord will grow you as a teacher more than you realize. Ignore the blog stats and just write. It doesn't matter how many come, if just one needs to hear what God has to say.
You will have a baby, against doctor's predictions. Before you were even married you feared your fertility, once you were married this anxiety only increased. The doctors prognosis ringing in your ears: "You might be able to conceive but your body will likely attack the fetus and cause miscarriages. You will likely never be able to have your own baby." You grieve this before it's even a possibility. That month you think you might be pregnant you wait until you are 2 weeks late to even get the courage to take a test. Guess what? Two lines will appear. Against all odds.
(Note: There are parts of my story I am vague in sharing, I don't mean to do that to cause curiosity or distract you, sweet reader. There are parts of my story I don't share because the story isn't just mine to share. There are parts of my story I don't share because they aren't your business. I mean that with love. Some things we need to hold to just those very few closest to us. Some parts of my story I don't share because it's not time to share. Some parts of my story I don't share because my vagueness is more helpful, it allows each of my readers to connect in their own way. You all know that I aim to be an authentic, vulnerable and open book here and in the Bible studies that I write. So thank you for being gracious with the vague allusions. Love you so.)
To see all the posts in this series, click the image below: