Friday, October 11, 2013

15 Things I'm Learning at 25

1. Destroy self-doubt at all costs.
You can have all the support in the world, but all of that means nothing if you don't believe in you. It not only causes you to miss out on great opportunities, but it mentally paralyzes you from accomplishing all the things God has called you to do. Not a good look. The gifts God has blessed you with could literally be someone else’s medicine, so stop telling yourself you “can’t” do something.  Someone else’s life could depend on it.

1 1/2. Have encouraging friends.
Speaking of support…..make sure the people you have in your life aren’t staying there rent free. At 25 I've realized the true value of a friendship isn't in who looks the best standing together in pictures
, it's who can add life to my life. Ask yourself this question: am I better because of this friendship? Any answer other than "yes" is a no and well a no means it's time to let them go.

2. Be on time! [or try really hard]
I'm definitely the pot calling the kettle black for this one.  At Hampton University we had a saying, "To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late and to be late is unacceptable." We are now into the “professional” stage and after a certain age it's just not cute to be late. Well, unless it's a social event. Or if it's an awkward gathering and you'll be forced to talk to the other early people there...then it's okay to be late.  Matter of fact just be on time for church, work and interviews. Definitely interviews.

3. Spending daily quiet time with Jesus is vital.
We’ve all been bamboozled into thinking that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I would like to say that’s false.  Your quiet time with Christ is the most important meal of the day.  The Word of God is literally food for our soul. Let me be very blunt: GOING TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY MORNING IS NOT ENOUGH. What would we look like or feel like if we only ate one meal a week? Unfortunately, some of us suffer from spiritual eating disorders because we’re not getting a well balanced diet of the Word. We (me included) have got to stop fitting Jesus into our schedule and start fitting our schedules around Jesus. He doesn’t enhance our life, He is life.  Amen?

4. Take care of your body.
The time for eating whatever you want and then going to bed is over. Take care of your body. Change doesn't come over night but it does come in one decision. Make an effort to workout at least twice a week. Also watch what you eat. Only go to Outback once a week instead of three. :-) Incorporate more vegetables in your diet AND DRINK MORE WATER! (This entire section was really written specifically for me).

5. Singing your heart out relieves stress.

If you tell me you don't put on full concerts in the shower or go completely IN while you’re alone in your car stuck in traffic then we obviously could never be friends. I mean I’m no Beyoncè, but you definitely can't tell me I'm not when it's just me and my iPod. There are no better acoustics than the studio in your shower. You're the one that's crazy if you think otherwise lol

6. Don’t keep making the same mistakes.
A while back I was given some of the most freeing advice that I’ve ever received. “It’s okay to make mistakes.”  This can get tricky but it is also the absolute, honest to goodness truth.  I think as Christians we’ve built this facade that we can’t mess up. While I don’t at ALL take this to mean actively go and look for trouble, there will be times when we don’t get it right.  Learn from them. Mistakes will happen, it’s inevitable, just never make the same mistake twice, because then it becomes a choice.

7. Be serious about your dreams.
Stop asking God to invest in what you’re not willing to invest for yourself.  Yes, we absolutely can do all things through Christ that gives us strength….but the keyword is do.  God is not our personal assistant or even worse, He’s not our slave.  God planted specific desires in each of us that He ultimately wants to use for His glory so He's giving you what you need to accomplish them.  It’s not always that people don’t believe in your dreams, it’s just that at some point you have to actively start pursuing them. Remember, faith without works is dead. So start proving the doubters wrong and start walking out on faith.

8. Build on your strengths.
Which brings me to my next point….know your strengths. We live in a society where we're so focused on what we lack rather than what we actually do bring to the table. For years I tried to develop my weaknesses, but imagine how much more effective we could be if we would build upon our strengths. The truth is we’re not going to be the masters of everything.  There will be some things that we just won’t be able to excel in…..and that’s okay! Surround yourself with people who make up for what you lack and vice versa.  Stop secretly asking God to make you another person and learn how to be the most effective person you already are. 

9. Learn how to encourage yourself.
A few years ago, Sheri Jones-Moffett came out with a song that still plays on gospel radio stations across the country: Encourage Yourself. It’s a great song, but did you know that this is actually scripture?  The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 30:6 (KJV), that after King David was under attack and being threatened, he "encouraged himself in the Lord." We all have our days where the glass is half empty, but we have to learn how to speak life into our own lives.  Your mom might not have the right words one day and your best friend may not pick up the phone. It’s in those moments you’ve got to learn how tell yourself to keep going.  Learn the Word and then apply the Word for YOU!

10. Set your alarm and pray for your family and friends.
I’m strong believer that there’s no better gift to offer someone then the gift of prayer.  If you really love your friends and family and want them to do well….pray for them.  Every prayer shouldn’t be about you and your situation, your friends and family have situations too. Pray for them.  While you’re at it….pray for your enemies too.  You never know what someone else is going through. Ugly attitudes are just a reflection of the internal pain that they’re experiencing.  I’m not saying be their friend….but even the ugliest heart is worth our prayer.

11. Know when to walk away.
We’re all guilty for continuing to water dead plants, but there comes a time where you have to realize when something has stopped growing. It sucks to be hurt in a situation, but sometimes we could have avoided the whole thing by just walking away. The Bible tells us in Matthew 7:20 that just as you identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify a person by their actions.  We know an apple tree because it bears apples.  If someone’s tree is bearing anything other than what they’re claiming it to, take that as your cue to walk…no run away. 

12. Always trust God’s timing.
Staying on the subject of fruit….eating it out of its proper season could be poisonous. We live in a society where everything has to be microwaved and even fast food takes too long. This is dangerous, because we tend to get impatient and make our own things happen.   But, here’s the problem: time means nothing to God, but yet His timing means everything. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, "God has made everything beautiful for its own time." We may not understand God’s methods, but we can be confident that however He works it out….and whenever He works it out, it will be the very best possible thing for us.

13. Stop taking social media so seriously.
Although we may really think it at times, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are not bible. It is not the standard to everyday living and it is certainly not everyone’s reality.  Keep in mind that people only show you what they want you to see. So the next time you land on someone’s profile and think, “Gosh I wish I had his/her life” know that they’re struggling with something just like you.  Oh and never give your phone to a non-Instagram-mer.  They don’t know the rules and they WILL double tap.

14. Always remain thankful.
Life gets rough sometimes and it’s very easy to look at all the things you don’t have rather than what you do have.  I’ve often found myself asking God for more only to realize, I wasn’t being a good steward over what He already gave me.  If we’re faithful over a few He’ll make us ruler over many. Also, a thankful heart extends past all of our material desires; we must learn to be thankful in each in every situation we face.  The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Jesus Christ."  Even in the worst of situations, remember there’s always a reason to be thankful.

15. Tomorrow is not promised.
I hate to bring on the subject of death, but the truth is we all have an expiration date.  So having said that….LIVE LIFE! Not carelessly, but unapologetically. The most common misconception about Christians is they don’t know how to have fun.  I’m not sure what Christians you surround yourself with, but me and my friends have a blast. (Yeah I know I just said blast, but I honestly couldn’t think of any other word.  I know that also didn’t help my case lol.) Your time on earth is temporary, so what are you doing to make an impact?  At 25 I’ve realized that it’s not my life goal to own a certain car, live in a certain size house or make a certain amount of money (okay, still working on the last one hehe) but my biggest heart’s desire is to make a difference. You only get one life on earth, make the absolute most out of it…..and not just for your own pleasure, but to help change the world of someone else. 

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.' ”- Erma Bombeck

This is my top 15, what’s yours?