A few weeks ago, I turned 27.
In honor of my new number, I thought about writing out a list of the 27 most interesting things that have happened in the 27 years I’ve been alive. (That list would have included historical events such as the downfall of The Dixie Chicks and the time with Garth Brooks decided to become Chris Gains.) I even thought about writing out the 27 people who have influenced my life the most, but I figured I would save that for a much more…um…monumental year.
So here’s where I landed:
This is what I like to call an ode-that’s-not-an-ode to 27. A list of things I’ve learned over the years that I hope to remember for the rest of my life. (And, yes. You guessed it. There are 27 of them.)
1. Don’t lay on the grass in Texas. Always use a blanket. – If you don’t, you will most definitely get some sort of bug bite, if not 30 of them. Unfortunately, I have experienced this one first hand. My max number of bug bites is 42. Not fun!
2. Addictions aren’t worth it. – After nine years of addiction (anorexia/obsession over food and exercise), I learned that things can and will rule your life, if you let them. These things not only hurt you spiritually, emotionally and physically, but they also hurt those around you. It’s hard to love others well when you’re always focusing on yourself. Freedom from addiction is soooo sweet, and it’s possible. Talk to someone you trust about it. It’ll be a battle, but the Lord is strong, even in your own weakness.
3. When in conflict, watch your tone. – It’s not always what you say that hurts others but how you say it. Stay calm…you can communicate better that way.
4. Boston always smells like urine or weed. – I love Boston, but it’s true. No explanation needed.
5. Humility is not weakness.– Humility isn’t easy. It’s difficult to praise the annoying girl at work for a job well done, and it’s hard to not brag about some accomplishment you achieved. Humility isn’t weakness. It takes a strong person to live it out. It shows people that you care about something much bigger than yourself – and that’s what you’re choosing to be defined by.
6. Everyone is looking for acceptance and meaning. We all just try to find it in different places.– Whether you’re an attorney, a bus driver, or a stay-at-home heir to billions, you want to be meaningful to someone. In an attempt to find acceptance and a purpose, we pick an identity. For a long time, I tried to be “Lindsey the health nut.” We all have ‘titles’ we are trying to obtain, and we think the content of those “titles” will make others accept us. We find happiness in them because they bring us what we want. The problem is, they will always fail us. (See number 7.)
7. If you try to find your meaning in temporary things, you will end up disappointed. – People will forget you. (I know…it sounds awful, but it’s true.) Just think about it. What was the name of your great grandfather’s father, and what was he good at doing? Unless your great, great grandfather was a president or something, you probably don’t know. I can choose to be “Lindsey the health nut” the rest of my life, but who cares? I think being healthy is important, so I’ll seek to do it, but it’s definitely not where my identity needs to rest. There’s only one place worthy of that. (See number 8.)
8. Eternal life exists in the name of Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross for our sins. You see, only a perfect sacrifice would be enough to account for the misdeeds of humanity, and the utter brokenness of our hearts. In order to do this, God sent Jesus – a perfect being without blemish or any sin. He died on the cross taking on the sins of the people (our sin). He rose on the third day declaring that death had been swallowed up by life – and we all could have hope. “If you confess with you mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). It’s eternal. It lasts forever. Your life in Christ never ends. It’s worth knowing and finding your identity in Him. It will never fail you.
9. “Dishwasher soap” and “dish soap” are two different things. – Don’t ever put dish soap in the dishwasher. I flooded my parents’ kitchen that way. You can ask them about it. Just trust me, and don’t do it.
10. Resolve conflict early. – You never know if tomorrow is going to happen for you. If you’re in an argument or disagreement with someone, resolve it. No one wants to live with regret for the rest of his or her life.
11. Sisters are a gift from God. – If you have one, you know what I’m talking about.
12. Right now, you’re setting habits for the future. – What do you want your life to look like in 10 years? If you want to be a woman or man of the Word, if you want to be an encouragement to your spouse or your kids, if you want to be a person of prayer, get on it now. “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come…” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
13. Coping mechanisms don’t work forever. – Finding a new relationship, a new hobby, or a new favorite dessert does not take the place of healing. Often times, the things we do to take our minds off of the pain we feel only serve as Band-Aids. At some point, it is going to get ripped of, and your wound is going to be exposed. Deal with your problems in a healthy way. Work through them. You’ll save yourself some grief in the future.
14. Clean up as you go.– My dad championed this phrase when I was growing up…and when I lived with them as a young adult. If you don’t do this, you end up spending hours just picking up around the house. As I look at the mess on the floor of our apartment, I hate the fact that I don’t have this one mastered, yet.
15. Community is vital.– Without a group of solid people around me, I would probably make worse decisions than I already do. Having people ask me the important questions in life gives me the accountability needed to live it to the fullest. Being known is important…I would suggest it to anyone.
16. Applesauce is a good substitute for butter. – I have my Grandma Betty to thank for this one. Her cinnamon rolls were awesome…
17. You only get one body. Take care of it. – Eat well. Eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full. Find some type of physical activity you enjoy doing, and do it often. If you eat out of emotion (or choose to starve yourself out of emotion), find out what the root is, and talk to someone about it. Pray for help. Glorify the Lord with your eating habits. If you do, you won’t regret it.
18. A lot of people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. – I read a book called “Hold in Our Gospel” several years ago, and my perspective on water completely changed. Some people around the world don’t have water to drink. They are really thirsty. Their mouths are dry and all they want is something to drink. A simple resource that we have in abundance others are longing for. We’re blessed. We truly are.
19. You never regret time spent in God’s word. – God’s word is living and active. It changes lives. Spending time learning about God and how to live in light of who He is, is one of the most important things we can do each day. It’s worth abandoning TV shows, a few extra hours of sleep, or an early morning run for.
20. If you want to grow, you have to train on the hills. – Running on flat land is a breeze. If you want to get faster and stronger, you have to hit the hills. They are harder, but they produce a better athlete. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the rough break up, the crazy battle with addiction, or my struggles with insecurity. Hills happen, but you have to keep running. The Lord will use them for your good. Trust Him and persevere.
21. In bowling, a “turkey” is not a bird. – I got a “turkey” (three strikes in a row) while on the bowling team in high school. Instead of rejoicing, I explained that I didn’t want one. I thought they were going to give me a turkey, and Thanksgiving was still 9 months away.
22. Side hugs are kind of awkward. – In the South (especially in the more conservative South), side hugs are an everyday occurrence. If you see a friend of yours, you simply walk up to them, wrap one arm around them, and give them a squeeze. It’s simple, and no one thinks twice about it. In the North, however, it’s different. Up here, a side hug always ends awkwardly – and you (the side hugger) are always the reason for it.
23. I’m not above anything. – I am capable of causing a lot of harm in this world. If I’m not careful, I will end up doing things that could hurt others and myself. I am capable of being a bad parent, a mischievous bride, and a drug addict. If I think I am above sin, I will sin. If I think that I am defensible, I will live too casually and make bad decisions. We are all broken and, with the help of a weak moment, can do terrible things.
24. Men and women are very different – and not just in anatomy. – For some reason, it took me a long time to figure this one out. I always assumed that men saw the world through the same set of eyes as women, but after a short 7 months of marriage (and talking with several other women and men I know) I realize I was desperately mistaken. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the differences – it’s still just still a little mind-blowing to me sometimes.
25. Practice really does make perfect. – My dad used to push me to practice guitar. I never wanted to. Today, I wish I would have. You really can lose some things…
26. I was not created without thought. – Some people argue that we all came from a random collision of matter. I wasn’t, and I don’t believe you were either. I believe you were designed and pieced together in your mother’s womb, and that, in that process, you were given natural bents and talents. There are things that will come easier to you than they do to others. Dig into those things. Get to know yourself and the way the Lord created you. Cultivate your talents, your God-given abilities, and use them for good. You were created for a reason.
27. Life is short, and you never know when it’s going to end. – This one sounds completely awful and depressing, but I think it’s important to remember it. I mean, many of us have experienced the death of someone we know who died too young. I’m only 27, but I may not make it to 28. Remembering that life is short helps me seek to live it right. Love much. Speak truth. Don’t waste time.
I love odes-that-aren’t-odes. Don’t you?
Here’s to life and the lessons that it brings! May we all live life to the fullest, learn a ton, and laugh often.