This past weekend I visited my parents and I shared a cute little post about it here. We had fun celebrating Labor Day and my birthday a little early. Well... on Sunday morning I went to church with my family. My parents switched churches after I moved out so I don't know many people there. It's a small, highly-interactive, super-friendly church. Before the worship service began, they asked if anyone had a birthday this week and asked them to stand. Immediately my parents shot me a mischievous look and began pointing exaggeratedly at me.
I don't know what came over me but I did NOT want to participate.
I didn't know these people.
I didn't want to stand up and smile and act like I was excited about this birthday.
Did I mention I'm not really a morning person?
I motioned to my parents to stop, that I was serious... but it was too late. The pastor saw me and kindly called me out in front of everyone, asking me to stand for the birthday song, promising he wouldn't embarrass me, as the entire congregation watched, amused. So I stood. Tears stung my eyes and I could feel my throat constricting, making my breathing ragged. As soon as the happy birthday song was over I sat, defiantly, and moped.
Even I knew that I was acting like a petulant child. What the heck was wrong with me? I must have truly embarrassed my parents acting so ridiculous, over a silly birthday song. And after some time to cool down and pray, I realized that I've fallen to the increasingly popular quarter life crisis.
It has always seemed like the pinnacle of young adulthood.
At this age, my parents were working full time management jobs, married and expecting me! I'm still in school, accumulating debt, working part-time (and very much paycheck to paycheck), and have no idea when my life is going to look like an adult's life should.
Well guess what- it is sinful to compare my life to the lives of those around me and to look at that for affirmation. I have friends my age who have full time jobs, are married and have children. And you know what? It is great that God has directed their steps that way! But I have friends who are living with their parents for whatever reason, who don't love their jobs, who can't find a job no matter how qualified and passionate they are, who are just stuck for the current season. And you know what? It's okay to not have things all figured out and it's okay to take things one step at a time.
There is no cut and dry template which dictates the correct way to continue on. There is nothing healthy or biblical about holding others to a standard which says they must be fully employed, married or financially stable by a certain age. Isn't it God who has written our days and ordered our steps? God never mandates an American ideal of success to us.
For those of you who are struggling in the midtwenty slump, feeling alone in your lack of accomplishment, be encouraged that each season of your life is important. There is purpose and beauty at every step. And you are not alone. Know that the God of the Universe desires relationship with you and wants to use you to further his kingdom and bring glory to his name.
For those of you who interact with twentysomething's, let me encourage you to refrain from creating an unwelcoming environment for those who don't fit the mold. Instead, figure out what passions God has placed in their hearts and center conversations around those (instead of asking if she has a boyfriend or when he will propose or if she's going back to school or if he's getting his own place soon). Everyone is different and just because someone does life a little differently doesn't mean they are doing it wrong.
Let me clarify that I'm not encouraging a "failure to launch" scenario. However, sometimes it is very wise to live with your parents for free to avoid debt. Sometimes it is very wise to take a part time job which seems beneath you until the right full time career comes along, even if you have a degree. Sometimes it is better to stay single than to get married just because it is what is expected. Chase after the Lord, follow His Word and trust that He is big enough write your story.
Maybe real success is in surrender, not striving.
After my little birthday meltdown, I realized that even though my life isn't quite all together, it has been during this season of working/starting-over-in-a-new-city/studying/praying-that-there-is-enough-money-for-the-bills that I've been forced to completely rely on Him. For everything! For community, for money, for energy, for courage- it has only been through the power of Jesus that those things have been provided and my faith has been strengthened. So, this time that isn't what I thought it would be? It is good.
And this birthday? It's nothing to fear. I have Jesus.