For the past few years, I’ve had a nervous excitement about growing up. Freedom, opportunity, and decision all come with becoming an adult, and to most young minds, it’s something to look forward to. For me, it was definitely that. I wanted to be in control of my life. I wanted to know what it was like to make decisions for myself, control my relationships, have a job, do taxes, and pay bills. (I know, maybe I’m weird for those last ones, but I consider myself a pessimistic realist.)
Trigger warning: If hearing about mental issues, depression, suicide, etc. upsets you, you might want to skip this section.
For the prior four or five years, I’d felt trapped in a cycle where I wasn’t able to grow. I woke up, ate, did school, and went to bed. On weekends, we’d do something outside like hiking or seeing someone we knew, and then the cycle repeated itself. I went through the week waiting for the weekends, then spent the fleeting weekends worrying about the week days. (I never enjoyed school. In fact, you could probably say I dreaded it. The days got even more tedious when I was put in charge of helping my youngest brother with his homework.) I was finding joy in temporary, worldly things. My joy was not in the Lord.
From the outside, I had the perfect life. I had two loving parents, traveled the country in an RV, got to visit all kinds of places, got to see relatives and friends in different parts of the US, and was homeschooled (ultimate flexibility). For many people, my life was their dream. And to be fair, there were points where I was genuinely, 100 percent happy. Sadly, however, that was rarely the case. From the outside, I seemed poised and put together. Inside, it was chaos.
It started off small—the “I don’t likes” of my new lifestyle. I felt plucked out of my prior, “stable” house life. I never knew when we’d move or where we’d end up next, and I hated not knowing where we were going until we were either driving to the place or already there. I missed the church we’d been at prior—even though I hadn’t really had any connections there. In fact, my first (and only, at the time) deeper relationships as a Christian pulled away right before we left for the road. That really devastated me.
However, it gets a lot deeper. I was a new believer, and I was struggling with my faith. Add on the conflicts of being the firstborn and a new teen (wanting more independence) and all the ridiculousness that comes along with that, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. My relationship with the Lord was not solid. At that point, I didn’t even know what being a Christian was supposed to look like. I was more on the side of “religious” than “relational.” I was so confused, as well as battling some personal issues, and I just wanted a loving, emotionally-available person to help guide me and talk through things with me without judgement. *facepalm* If only I’d been able to give that role to Jesus. But I guess that’s why I went through more than four years of the same trial. *heavy sigh* Eventually, I learned, but in took bringing me to rock bottom for me to finally relinquish control. I felt trapped, alone, and lost. Mostly just alone.
I’d say this was the lowest point in my life. I was crying myself to sleep almost every night, taking out my frustration and emotions in ways that weren’t healthy or beneficial to the rest of my family, and distracting myself from my problems with books and food. I wasn’t leaning on God. Sure, I prayed and cried out to Him, but I was mainly doing everything else listed above. I’m actually really surprised how important food became to me during that time. It consumed my thoughts to the point that I was fasting to try to get rid of my addiction/idolatry of it, but in the end, I was treating a symptom, not the root.
There was a lot I was holding onto that I needed to let go of. I had so many bottled-up emotions and bitterness inside of me, and I had to learn to forgive…and forgive…and forgive. It was exhausting. It hurt. I was going through the transition of thinking adults know it all and I should follow blindly to realizing that I should actually think for myself; the Lord gave me my own mind and wants to have a personal relationship with me. He wants to know me, not some emotionless robot version of myself. There’s definitely a balance between taking the wisdom of older people and thinking for yourself, and it took me forever to find it.
I learned by trial and error. When I say it hurt, it hurt. My heart got broken multiple times. I was betrayed in my most vulnerable moments, and after years of irrationally expecting humans to react perfectly to my problems, I started to realize I couldn’t put my faith in humanity. (Lol this sounds depressing, but please try to get my point.) It took the Lord breaking me—many, many times—to bring me to realize that my trust needs to ultimately be in Him. People are going to fail me. Everyone is flawed. I need to use judgement in my relationships—no matter how close I am to the person—because the Lord is the only one I’ll ever be able to open up to fully and unabashedly. I need to take responsibility in every relationship. That includes guarding my mouth and heart and using discernment to know how to approach situation—not expecting the other person to act perfectly just because they’re “older” or “more experienced.”
It felt like the trial lasted forever, and honestly, it never really just ended. There were ups and downs and many plateaus. At times, things got so tough, I probably wouldn’t be alive if the Lord hadn’t protected me. I was so tempted to just throw in the towel and be done with everything. I think the one thing that kept me going was knowing that it would be dishonoring to the Lord if I did so. I couldn’t feel the Lord’s presence half the time, but I knew He was with me. Giving up would have been giving in to the devil’s lies.
Things got really intense over the course of maybe two years. I had a lot of false ideals and thoughts that I needed to stop fighting for, and once I started to surrender them to the Lord, things got way easier. About two years ago, my relationship with God really deepened. He became so much closer to me. Although I still struggled with things, my faith in Him became so much stronger, and He was able to use everything I was going through to draw me nearer to Himself. I began to see His hand in everything. Knowing He had me in the palm of His hand, even as waves thundered down upon me—being able to let go amidst it all and know He’s in complete control—was so relieving. Finally, about half a year ago, the Lord removed the trial.
*moment of silence for the Lord’s goodness*
Those years were so difficult. My faith and beliefs were tested in ways that almost killed me, but the Lord was steadfastly faithful. Even if I could rewind time, I wouldn’t change a thing. Because of that period of my life, I know the Lord’s love, mercy, and faithfulness in a way I never would have without going through what I did. He increased so much more in my life, and I decreased.
My Old View of Growing Up
Wow! That got really deep and personal 😅 I did not ever plan to write about that on my blog. It kind of just came out, and now I guess I’ll just leave it out there as a testimony to the Lord’s goodness.
Trigger warning safe spot (Nothing triggering here; welcome back!)
Anyway, now that we’re done with that whole story (which I hope can encourage you if you’re going through something similar), let’s connect it to how it affected my idea of growing up.
To start off, I wanted to grow up in order to escape that particular trial. I wanted control. I didn’t want to have to be in the vulnerable position I was in any longer. For me, growing up meant freedom. Freedom to find my identity in Christ—on my own (going back to the realizing I can think for myself thing). Freedom to manage my own relationships. Freedom to serve Christ in the way I felt He was calling me to.
As a realistic—and pessimistic—person, I knew growing up wouldn’t be easy. And it’s not. It’s not easy at all. Trying to figure out what you want to do with your life in the span of a few years—careers, jobs, families—is stressful. All of a sudden, there are a hundred different pressures on you that weren’t there before, and you have over a thousand options to choose from. It doesn’t make it any easier that basic necessities like housing and transportation cost a ton and are complicated attain.
(Note my use of past tense. You’ll understand why soon.)
For me, I knew where I wanted to be in five years. I had a basic idea of how I wanted to live, as well as several interests that I wanted to pursue. I had a goal, and I wanted to make sure I got there.
However, things weren’t going according to plan (my plan, to be exact). Circumstances dictated that I wouldn’t be able to do what I wanted to do, and because I wasn’t ready to let my plans drop, I was constantly worrying about my life. It may sound silly to some of you, but I was stressing about my possible future failures of measuring up to my goals, as if they were already happening. (One example of this is how I want to be a mom. I took where I was at, looked at my circumstances, and got depressed because things weren’t heading toward my goal.) As someone who is always pushing herself to do better, reach the next milestone, and keep climbing, I was putting a ton of pressure on myself to do things I wasn’t able to do in the moment. Of course, that didn’t help anything. It was all a very stressful, confusing ordeal.
Growing up seems like something that most—if not all—young adults struggle with. It’s rare that I meet someone my age who isn’t worried about their life. In fact, I’ve even met adults in their late 20’s and early 30’s who are stressing about where they’re at. As time went on, and I saw just how many people were in the same boat as me, I started to realize something else—or rather, a question popped into my head.
How much of my fears and anxieties were from the Lord? How much of it was actually helping me to get anywhere? The answer to these questions were, one, none of it was from the Lord, and two, my worrying was getting me nowhere. Instead, all I was doing was hindering my walk with the Lord. I made things a lot more difficult than they had to be, and I caused myself to be hopeless and joyless, because of my despondent viewpoint.
God is in Control
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31–33)
Every human being on planet earth worries. It’s in our nature to do so. However, in this verse, Jesus says it’s what the Gentiles (“world,” when put into context) does. The world is anxious about every day. The world seeks money and food first above God.
In these verses, Jesus is basically saying to be unlike the world. Stop worrying about the future, and trust that He will provide for you. Now, of course that doesn’t mean sit at home and eat chips and watch TV all day. For me, this means that I need to seek to do the Lord’s will above all else, and He will provide everything I need.
He doesn’t promise it will be easy. He doesn’t promise I’ll have the time of my life trusting Him. We live in a fallen world, and as such, nothing will be perfect. It may very well be difficult and painful. However, my Lord died for me. I love Him above all else, and I will gladly do whatever He asks of me. Plus, He’s my heavenly Father. He knows exactly what I need. He knows what’s best for me. Time and time again, He’s shown His perfect love and understanding in the way my circumstances work out, and I’ll never be able to fully comprehend His amazing goodness. (Did that sound like a fried chicken ad or something? )
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
So how do I live this out?
First of all, I need to be content. *sigh* Contentment is so difficult— especially when I have a list in my head of everything I want my life to be. I want to be a wife and mom. I want to live independently for a year or two. Right now, it doesn’t look like either of those things will be happening. However, circumstances can (and most likely will) change. As an author, I know how fun it is to throw plot twists at my characters. How much more will God, the ultimate author and writer of all our stories, but also a loving father who cares deeply for His children, do the same? I don’t think I’ve gone more than five years without something in my life drastically changing. It doesn’t mean I depend on the change. It’s just that I know anything could happen, and until then, I’m content waiting on the Lord’s timing.
I think contentment means surrendering to God’s will—putting Him first above my wants and desires. His timing and plan is perfect. I need to trust in full faith that He has me where He wants me at the moment. When he wants me to move on, He’ll show me the way. Remember how I said trusting Him to provide doesn’t mean sitting at home and eating chips all day? (I mean, unless that’s truly what you think the Lord wants you to do. In that case, go all in XD) For me, trusting Him means seeking Him out and following where I think He’s trying to lead me.
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
God stresses faith so much. Without faith (as stated above), it’s impossible to please Him. We were created to live for His glory, and thus, He shows His children how He wants them to live. Now, this doesn’t mean He has one set of rules and wants everyone to live cookie cutter lives. No, in fact, He has created so many diverse stories, and each person is unique, so that what one person does in full faith, another may not be able in faith at all.
For me, following in faith means being content with where I’m at now, and if He opens doors or opportunities for me, I’ll follow. If something unexpected comes up, I’ll take it as His way of telling me, “Here, I want you to do this.” Until He shuts those doors, I’ll keep going down those new paths and trusting that that’s where He wants me. He also works through my desires, and it’s kind of the same thing as the doors. I’ll pursue things, and if they work out, then great! I’ll take it as a yes. (Things like applying for jobs, for example. I’m didn’t wait for Pizza Hut to find and approach me with a job offer. I wanted to get a job. Thus, I applied and ended up getting it.) If things consistently don’t work out, I’ll take it as a no.
Learning contentment and trusting that God will lead me where He wants me to go has made life a lot easier. Instead of being anxious and depressed all the time, I’m able to trust that He’s working everything out. (Not saying I don’t worry; I definitely still do a bunch of that.) Ultimately, He’s in control. Even more amazingly, every time I give him more of my trust, He rewards it—whether that be in the small things in my daily life, or in the overarching story of everything.
The Lord is good, and the Lord is faithful. Things may not look perfect in the moment, but sometimes I just need to hang in there and wait for His timing.