I remember when I was younger, I thought that by 30 you’re ancient and you would know it all and have life figured out. Boy was I wrong! Life is a whole learning process and through it all, when I’ve been intentional, I’ve learned so much. My 20s were filled with lessons, a lot of hard lessons, but thank God for those because they’ve made me stronger and wiser.
In this post, I want to share 5 things that I learned were key in life in my 20s.
Lesson One: Believe it or not, our parents aren’t perfect! A lot of the times we blame our parents for a lot of the downfalls in our lives and we forget they’re people too.
I wasn’t raised with my biological mother and my childhood was a little rocky and lacked stability, but as I got older and after I became a mother, I realized that our parents never had things figured out. I remember hearing adults say, “Kids don’t come with a handbook” when I was younger and I never understood exactly what that meant, but now, after becoming a mom myself, I completely do. My 20s taught me to have grace with my parents. My parents made a lot of mistakes along the path of raising me, but they also taught me so much in this life. During my 20s, I was able to realize the importance of each lesson– every time I didn’t take their advice… because let’s be real, I was the kind of child that didn’t take advice and had to learn the hard way…. keepin’ it real over here.
However, looking back and working through my healing process, I learned that hurt people hurt people. We all go through hurt and pain from childhood and so on, including our parents. Our parents raised us the best way they knew how. I had to realize that my parents had a whole life before they had me, which impacted who they were, how they viewed life, and how they were going to raise their kids. There was a lot of forgiving towards my parents that I had to do in my 20s and it’s definitely been such a blessing!
Lesson Two: God will turn everything around when you’re willing to put everything in His hands.
I grew up in church, but I wanted to “explore the world” at around 18 and let me tell you, I made a mess of my life real quick. I got into a very codependent relationship and after that ended, I struggled with depression, anxiety, lack of identity, and just a whole bunch of other issues. When I found myself pregnant at 23, it really hit me of where I was in life. I was living a life that wasn’t going anywhere and there was no sense of purpose, but the moment I hit rock bottom and just surrendered it all to God, He definitely turned my life, my circumstances, my relationship, and my heart around. I always say that my oldest daughter is the best gift I never knew I needed because it wasn’t until I got pregnant that I was forced to slow down and I was able to hear from God again.
This year I reflected so much on my life in the beginning of my little family and how we literally started from zero. We were barely making ends meet, we had a little baby to take care of, we didn’t know exactly what we were doing, but when we gave our lives to Christ, things started taking a turn for the better little by little. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and tell you that it was always easy because that would be F A L S E, but it’s definitely been worth it. We’ve seen the hands of God in our family, in our marriage, in our family, in our finances, and in the heaviness from our past that was lifted from us. God is good, fam!
Lesson Three: Quality over quantity in Friendships
I started my 20s with a whole group of friends and I’m ending it with like 5 solid ones. I remember my dad used to tell me, “I can count the number of real friends I have in one hand.” When I was younger I was like, “That will never happen to me!” (Because BFF4L, right?!) However, the older I’ve gotten and the closer to God I’ve gotten, I’ve seen friendships just start to fade away. It was definitely a PAINFUL process for me to not be close to people who I loved so much anymore, but it was a process of growth for sure. Some friendships just faded and others didn’t end on great terms. Growing up, my friends were the family I chose for myself so losing them was like losing my “siblings”.
I have always been a person who prioritizes friendships. I always wanted to make sure that my friends knew I was going to be there for them no matter what; however, the older I got, the more I realized that some people liked what you could do for them, but didn’t necessarily value you. Life also taught me that some people were only in your life for seasons and that was a tough reality for me to face at times. Tough times showed me quality friends and I’m forever grateful for them.
Lesson Four: Don’t rush the process
Many times I wanted to skip steps in life. I remember my dad always telling me, “Don’t be in such a rush to grow up”. Looking back, I realize why it’s so important NOT to rush. Trials are hard, but there’s always a lesson to be learned. When you try to rush the process, you’re bound to make mistakes or just want to give up.
In my late 20s, I decided I wanted to work on my emotional healing because I wanted to be a healthy wife, mother, daughter, and friend. I learned that I had to realize some hard truths about people I held on a pedestal and about myself. There were times when I wanted to rush the process and ended up putting my healing on “hold”. Healing is rough, but necessary. So now, in my 30s, I’m still in the healing process. Every step of the process is an opportunity to learn something new about God, life, and yourself.
Lesson Five: Forgiveness Is Choosing Freedom
I let myself be convinced by society’s lie that “time heals all wounds” for a long time. It was frustrating to me when I realized that time would pass and I was still holding a grudge over something that happened a month, three months, six months, or even a year before. In my early 20s, I made it a point to be petty, mean, or seek some sort of “revenge” to the people that hurt me. When I was hurt, I couldn’t see past that offense or pain. For a long time, l would just vent to my friends about the people who hurt me, but in reality I was just bleeding out. It wasn’t until I decided to reconcile my relationship with God that I was able to truly understand the reality and repercussions of unforgiveness. I learned that forgiveness was a conscious decision. Forgiveness didn’t come with “time” or by chance, but rather by a decision made to forgive. It was also something I realized was a generational curse in my family. I saw unforgiveness plague family members from when I was a child. I remember when I learned that if I didn’t forgive others, then God wouldn’t forgive me and…. LET ME TELL YOU… I need (and will always need) forgiveness because I am not perfect and have made SO many mistakes. I had to make a choice to forgive those who hurt me, betrayed me, offended me, rejected me, and made me feel less.
It was not easy and to be honest, it’s still something I have to remind myself DAILY of, but the more you get closer to God and the more you work on your healing, you realize that people close to us don’t usually intentionally hurt us. I also have to remind myself that hurt people tend to hurt other people and we have to look at people through those eyes. I’ve had to remember that everyone has a story and a lot of us have had difficult childhoods for different reasons that shaped us into the people we are today with the mindsets we have today. It’s not an excuse we should use to be unkind or rude, but it’s a reason to have compassion with one another.
Forgiveness is freedom. When I started walking in forgiveness, there was a weight lifted off of my shoulders and it literally felt like I could breath better than ever before.
My 20s was definitely an adventure. I had to learn some hard lessons, had a lot of humbling experiences, and definitely grew. Now in my 30s, while I’ve gained some wisdom and insight, I have ways to go and I can’t wait.
As you read this, I hope that you can look at your life and see how far you’ve come and maybe to reflect on the things that you’ve learned along the way!