One of the overarching themes of my 27th year was leaning into God in surrender. “Let me hear joy and gladness and let bones you have crushed rejoice.” (Psalm 51:8) These words captivated my heart in their conflicting desire. Yes, that is exactly where I was at the beginning of my 27th year. I could see God’s goodness and I wanted to lean into that experience, but there were some crushed bones and I had signed up to a journey of discovering how to rejoice in those experiences. The most interesting part of my journey this year, is the equal weight of intentional living and God just changing me in ways that were so disproportionate to any effort I could have put forth. I reflect on this year with a full and expectant heart so thankful for the abundance of 27 during exciting and difficult times. I look ahead with hope at my 28th year desiring to dig deeper and grab a hold of more life! So, here are 5 ways I found life and abundance at 27. I hope they encourage you to see where you are finding life too!
Exploring new interests
I finally joined a book club. Actually, two. I love it! I did not realize how much I enjoy reflecting on different material and then getting to hear what other people think about it. It’s been one of my favorite ways to meet some new people and also just take a break. I also started blogging! This has been an incredible experience. I have enjoyed refining my thoughts and reflections for an audience. Sharing my reflections with you has crystallized the lessons I am learning and the blessings I am experiencing. Your presence has kept me accountable to look for life as I navigate my days. I have enjoyed hearing from you as a result of this blog, and finding encouragement from your experiences and your reflections!
Deepening friendships in unexpected ways
As far as love languages go, I am one of those quality time people. I love conversations and as such one of my simplest but most fulfilling pleasures, is hanging out and talking with people over coffee or while doing something active. I have had the opportunity to enjoy intentional moments of quality time with a number of people, but the most surprising part about my friendships this year, is how they blossomed in little moments scattered over many days and contexts. A phone call here, a conversation there during a busy work day. A shared event and an unexpected encounter that turned into a meal together. There has been some planning but a lot of it has just happened and that has been delightful! I am learning that every interaction has the potential to deepen a friendship and I hope I can continue to maximize those moments!
Being courageous enough to be comfortable in my own skin
One of the biggest growth opportunities of my 27th year was learning to accept who I am and then address the areas that need to change. My failures, moderate shortcomings, and even negligible flaws all had the power to drag me through the mud and leave me feeling like nothing many days. This year I learned how to look my shortcomings in the eye and refuse to let them bring me down, instead I learned how to keep trying to overcome them. I learned how to celebrate the successes and I also learned how to own my heart by letting people in. It’s a work in progress! I still cycle through a few anxious spells, but overall I look back and I know I have taken a few steps forward.
Maximizing a season of having family closer
I moved countries about 8 years ago, and the distance changed the relationships with my family. I miss them every day but we also discovered a deeper connection despite the distance. We learned how to intentionally involve each other in our lives by sharing important moments. We discovered each other’s hearts because now we are having the what-is-on-your-heart conversations that being oceans apart inspire. We expressed our gratitude for each other more readily and more purposefully. We learned to lean into each other and to uphold one another when things get difficult. It’s like the distance clarified what was important. In my 27th year however, my sister moved in with me and for the first time in 8 years all my siblings live in the same state! The physical proximity following the richness the distance created, has been a bigger blessing than I can express. We have since enjoyed the added advantage of being physically present for each other’s special moments and seeing each other just because we want to. Discovering and claiming “our Starbucks coffee shop” where we have laughed until we cried at all the silly things we can remember and effortlessly conjure. I don’t know how long we will be in such proximity to one another but I am determined to enjoy it for as long as we are here together.
Unlocking the power of intentional thankfulness
Identifying and sharing something I am thankful for every day, is easily the most life-giving things I did my 27th year. It was a quiet practice that brought sunshine on the good days and kept the storms from crashing me on the darker days. It helped me discover an abundance in everyday moments which I struggled with on a practical level. I was always looking ahead to see how today’s moments would shape me for my future. I judged everything by that standard. As noble as that may seem, it left me restless and anxious about my day to day happenings. What if I got stuck in the rut of this adulting phase, and suddenly 10 years later I am not even a shadow of the person I wanted to be? I believe that we need to live with some awareness of the future, but in my case it had become paralyzing. The daily practice of thankfulness broke this paralyzing cycle! I began to realize God’s blessings in everyday moments and inevitably, that He had a specific plan for me every day regardless of what the future holds. I realized my life now is not just a preparatory stage! I am really living – right here, right now, and I need to approach my present moments with my heart open to what my purpose is in these moments. In starting to approach life like this, I began to hold the future with an open hand, and realized it was never mine to hold. Sure, I still have dreams and ambitions but relinquishing those back to the one who holds the future, has freed me up to enjoy the present.
“I have come so that they might have life and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10 b (NASB)