My dear friend, you have by far been my favorite decade! You have seen me through the worst of times and you have seen me through the best of times, and in the end, you have been ever faithful in demonstrating God’s promise, that He who began a good work in me will bring it about to completion (Philippians 1:6).
That’s not to say that I am complete. Oh BOY, you know I still have a ways to go! But when I consider how I was when I first began with you to who I am as I prepare to leave you, there is no doubt that we are moving forward. And for that I am thankful.
Remember how when we first began, I just wasn’t myself? That sparkle and joy of my later teenage years had somehow disappeared, probably because those inner demons I just didn’t want to face at the time had finally caught up with me. We had just moved to San Diego from small town Penfield, NY, the only home I really remember. I was fresh out of my second hospitalization for anorexia with an extra 35 pounds on my body, and so severely depressed that I was actually antisocial, unfriendly, and introverted. I know, me!! And I felt like the biggest loser because while everyone else was out living their lives, I had been stupid enough to get caught up and had to leave college. It seemed like my life had no direction, no purpose, and no joy at the time. I had lost myself.
But you know, it’s only when you are lost that you can be found. And 20’s, I think that is what you were all about.
In my time with you, 20’s:
- I encountered a life-changing and transforming love in a new way, a love that will continue to accept me as I am where I am, yet refine and and challenge me to continue to grow to be more like Jesus.
- I learned to walk with Jesus and be anchored in the truth of His words, rather than tossed to and fro by the fickleness of my feelings.
- I began to face these inner demons, deep hurts, and the core lies that kept me stuck and walking in darkness, and exposed them with the light and healing that comes only from God.
- I learned to challenge core lies, shame, and condemnation with the unwavering truth of God’s Word.
- I have found security, worth, and steadfastness in my identity as a child of God.
- I was freed, so ridiculously and amazingly freed, from the bondage to so many different vices that I thought would bring life: body image, relationships, materialism, debt, the list goes on and on.
- I learned that God’s best is worth the wait and can’t be forced. This applies to more than just love, but everything your heart desires.
- I am far more freed (and this is still a work in progress) from the approval of others and far less controlled by what I think others think or expect from me.
- Related to the previous, I can live more out of the freedom of who God created me to be. And I have grown to appreciate the way He created me. I’m nerdy. I’m quirky. I say offensive things. I’m random. I’m loud. I’m not uber feminine. I mean, this isn’t all to say that I can just do or say what I want to. But I’ve just grown more comfortable in how I was created. I am less apologetic for who I am.
- I have grown leaps and bounds in not comparing myself with others, which used to be a massive scale problem. I am Alice. I will never not be Alice. And there will never be another Alice. There’s far less angst in just being yourself rather than always wishing you were more like someone else. You’re not for a reason.
- I’ve learned that when all hell breaks loose, when your worst nightmare comes true, when you think things can’t possibly get any worse, God is. He just is. And at the same time, “we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His name.” (Romans 8:28) I’ve seen it far too many times. It’s truth.
- I’ve learned not to be overcome or controlled by my feelings (sometimes eventually, haha) but to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
- I’ve learned that no man, not even your husband, can take the place of God. Ever.
- A miracle of all miracles, my parents actually came to Christ and are part of the “family” now!
- I have learned that it is okay if Jesus is Lord of my life. In fact, it’s BEST. I had to learn it the hard way. Many times. :) But I learned.
- I saw my sister get married to a wonderful man of God!
- I met and got married to a wonderful man of God the next summer!
- I am comforted in knowing that my brother’s walk with Jesus is firmly rooted and established, and have seen him through his own exciting journey with Jesus.
- I am convinced that no matter what, no matter when, no matter the economic state of the country, God provides. There are too many examples of this!
- We got the most adorable puppy, who is just perfect for us and who I can’t imagine life without.
- I’ve learned that your understanding of who you are just isn’t complete without context, and for me, that meant going back to Taiwan and even completing an assignment for my graduate degree chronicling my family history for the past four generations. I can’t explain it but even despite a language barrier, I just felt like I finally understood myself. I finally understood my family. I just finally felt complete.
- I have learned how I have been gifted, what I am naturally good at, and more of who I am and my preferences. And that’ll help me live more freely out of who God created me to be in my 30’s.
- When I first entered my 20’s, I operated under the assumption and core lie that I couldn’t do much. Looking back, I can see just how much I am capable of, and have more confidence in what I can do.
- I used to believe that bad things happened to me because I somehow got myself into those situations, that I was a bad person, and that I deserved it. But a dear friend from the Netherlands, as part of his story, shared his realization that God allowed difficult things and challenges to come his way because God just thought so highly of him and believed he was strong enough to handle it. I like that. I’m adopting it for myself. :)
- I’ve come to realize that unforgiveness is a weight that drags you down, and really hurts you more than the one you are withholding forgiveness from. Why would I want to carry that into my 30’s with me?
- This next lesson can be summed up with a quote from my time at my practicum site: “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.” Yep, absolutely! Let ’em go!
- My perspective has become greater. Life is more than just me (WHAAAT??!). And my life is not out of the control of a good God, who wants what is best for me. So I can rest no matter what in His care, in His love, and in His sovereignty.
Geez, 20’s! That’s a long list, huh?? So long that I’m not even sure that other people are still reading! :) But we have come a long way haven’t we, old friend? Through the happiest of moments to the sh*ttiest of moments (for lack of a better word), we have come to this place now.
So as I come to my last hour with you, 20’s, I just want to reflect and remember. I just want to reflect on and remember what I’ve learned with you. I just want to reflect on and remember how good you have been to me. I just want to reflect on and remember how I have grown so tremendously in my time with you. You truly have come to be a dear friend.
But I am ready to move forward, only because you have laid such a solid foundation for me. If my 30’s are half as good to me as you were, 20’s, I would consider myself incredibly blessed. But I know and am convinced that my 30’s will surpass you in greatness. Sorry, 20’s! :) That’s just the way God works.
So with all these memories, lessons, and reflections in mind, let’s enjoy this last hour together and celebrate. Thank you for sending me off so well and so joyfully into my 30’s, and thank you for how good you were to me. I will always look back on our time together with fondness!