The 20 things I’ve learned in my 20 years of life.
GOODNESS has this decade flown by!! It’s truly amazing to see how far God has taken me from surrendering to him at 10 years old to now. His grace is ALWAYS there. He is always GOOD. I remember thinking as a young girl about who I would be, how I would look as a twenty-year old. First things first I thought I’d be about 5’11… LOL (I’m only 5’3 and haven’t grown in about 5 years). My 12-year-old self would of probably told you that I’d be much more of an adult than I am right now, #thank #you #college. However, moving on from 7th grade Tessah and her gaucho pants… In this post, I’m listing TWENTY things I’ve learned in my 20 years of living!! And honestly these past few have been the most challenging in both good and bad ways. Hold on tight and join me in celebrating 20 years of spiritual, emotional, mental and of course physical growth!!
One – Always stay true to your self
I’m starting off with this learned lesson for many reasons. Going through middle school, high school and even in some parts of college my goofy self wasn’t always proud of who I was. Ask anyone who might know me just a little, I ask realllyyyy silly questions ALL! THE! TIME! It has taken me years to not just be comfortable in my own skin and know who I am but know who God says I am.
Psalm 139:4 "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well."
Stay true to who God created you to be. He gave you your talents, gifts and personality to use in glorifying his kingdom. You are designed to be extraordinary – nothing less.
Two – It’s okay if you don’t win, failure is necessary in order to succeed
If I’m going to shoot you straight, I am a sore loser. The kind of sore loser that gets mad and *flips table* sort of loser. I LOVE to win. Don’t we all though? There have been many competitive things I’ve been involved in where I would’ve done ANYTHING to win. Most of the time it wasn’t me wanting the best for myself or my team but holding onto pride instead of humility. Learn to be humble even when you lose. It’s okay to fail, even if it’s over and over again. Why? You can’t plant dreams and hope they just grow. Most of the time you have to work and fail and work to get success to sprout up victoriously like a new born sunflower! Be rooted in God and his never-changing victory – with him, you never truly are at loss.
Three – Love those around you, especially your family and close friends
The people that grew you, molded you and cheer you on, hold them close. Intentionally make time for each of them - take them out to eat, learn their love language. My sister is very easy to read… she lovesss gifts!! If you reward her with a gift or give her something just because, it’s like Christmas morning to her. It’s learning those little details about someone you love that really holds the relationship together. My family is personally some of the MOST supportive people I have ever met. I wouldn’t be who I am without them. I promise we could have a TV show. My parents taught me that LOVE is the most valuable thing we can possess, give and hold on to – no Earthly treasure can compare. For that I am most grateful. It’s so easy to get caught up trying to keep up. God’s love is constant, continuous – it will never run dry.
Four – Your time is the best gift you can give
I love to be involved in, well everything!! Throughout junior high and high school I fell in love with organizing, planning and leadership. Still love all of those things. However, there were many instances where spread myself thin. The thing is, when you try to do everything you can’t give your 100% in each thing you’re doing. Prioritize your needs and your wants. Use your time wisely and let every involvement be an opportunity to share Jesus with those around you!
Five – Don’t settle, ever.
Wyatt and I grew up in the same town but never really met until he started going to my youth group in like 2012. We became really good friends and would meet up super early to play darts in our youth pastor’s office. It was one Wednesday night throwing darts with Wyatt, when God whispered to me “he’s the one”. Don’t get me wrong, we both have had our fair share of heartbreak. But before I really got to know Wyatt I prayed for eight straight months that God would show me the one person I would spend forever with. Sounds Crazy right? Our relationship has had its ups and downs but I’m so happy I have someone like Wyatt to grow with. Girls, don’t ever settle. Find you someone who loves Jesus just as much as you do.
Six – Cherish your friends
Just like any other relationship maintaining friendships take work. When checking Instagram, it’s easy to want your own girl gang of 10 people. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others and their fun looking group of friends. God’s recently taught me that I shouldn’t have to try and “fit in” in order to maintain friendships. I’ve been blessed to have a few amazing people in my life that are wonderful friends to me! Especially during this summer, I got to serve as a staffer at Super Summer Arkansas (a church camp held at OBU). Never have I ever met people who I related with sooo quickly. Or be around such a large group of people who were so ALIVE in Christ! It was exactly what I needed. God will bring people into life at the perfect time. Find a group of friends (I found mine through a College Ministry) that won’t pressure you to be someone you’re not. Also don’t forget the ones who stuck by you, they will turn out to be lifelong friendships!
Seven – Loosen up, have FUN
Any of you reading this that know me are thinking right now… WOW, Tessah has actually loosened up. If you don’t know I am basically the mom of every group I am in. I’ve always been a very protective person, and controlling person (these two things don’t go well together). I’ve had to let go of the worries I had such a tight grip on and trust that God knows what he is doing. Make a bucket list, live in every moment, try something new!! Travel to places you’ve never been and talk to people – you never know who you may meet.
Eight – It’s not about you
Love others. Every part of our society in America tells us as individual’s to “make a name for ourselves”, all though, in its entirety isn’t a bad thing. But we almost all obsess on making our names GREAT. We will fight tooth and nail for a position, scholarship, job promotion etc. But when it comes to fighting for others and loving them we tend to put that to the bottom of the “to-do list”. Choose to intentionally love those around you. You never know where someone comes from or what they are going through. Be a light in their life. Make them laugh. Turn all of your selfishness into selflessness!
Nine – Family time is the best time
My family is the most hilarious group of people (and weirdest) you will ever meet. We eat supper at like 9pm, do all of our projects and house cleaning at night, and will laugh at literally nothing until we cry. Always make the most of time with those important people in your life. And make sure you have JUST family time. One thing that I love about Wyatt and I’s relationship is that we really strive to be involved with each other’s families but also give each other time alone with our individual family. If there is anything I’ve learned over these years is that you won’t always live in the same house as your parents, or siblings so make the most of each day with them. Cherish each vacation, each holiday, & every special moment <3
Ten – Pray continuously
Prayer has always been a part of my life. Growing up in a Christian home, my parents made sure I knew how to pray and what prayer meant. My prayer life hasn’t always been perfect by any means. The more I found myself in God’s word, around his people and in sync with his will – I could immediately tell if I had spent time talking to him that day or not. Especially in this past year God taught me that talking to him is the best way to deal with the pain life throws at us. Yes, God does know everything – but like any relationship he wants us to communicate with him. So I began not hiding from him anyone, and truly opening up to the problems I knew I couldn’t fix alone. In those moments I felt his Grace pouring into my life. He is such a personal, powerful God. Pray to him, he is listening and he will answer – maybe not always what you want (or in your preferred timing) but for YOUR BEST.
Eleven – don’t be afraid to try something out of your comfort zone
This past year I had the opportunity to staff at a few Disciple Now’s (as in be a small group leader for a bunch of teens for a whole weekend). I really didn’t know what I was getting into especially when all the sudden a group of teenage girls were staring back at me waiting for me to speak wisdom into their lives. Talk about being UNQUALIFIED. I also got the chance to staff at an Arkansas church camp (Super Summer Arkansas – as I mentioned earlier) and I got to lead 4 different small groups during the two weeks I was there. In the moments I personally felt unqualified, I felt God move the most. One of my favorite bloggers Jordan Dooley always says “God uses our Awkwardness for his awesomeness”. That couldn’t be any truer!!! Anytime I’ve ever tried to speak on my own, I have somehow messed it up – but letting the holy spirit speak through me has been the most rewarding conversations I’ve ever had.
Twelve – Sometimes in order to stand for Jesus, you sometimes have to stand alone
Standing for God sometimes means standing alone. What I mean is that in many situations when everyone is doing worldly things around you and you instead choose God’s way instead. It’s not easy to be different, especially in groups you feel awkward in already. My advice to you is don’t conform. Just because it’s the easy choice doesn’t mean it’s the RIGHT choice. Be bold, be different –be different for Jesus.
Thirteen – you can’t control it all (actually almost none of it)
Controlling things is one of my many talents, yet also a big flaw. For most of my life I wanted control over everything in my life, around my life and etc. Ironic thing is my control problem controlled me. It controlled my thoughts, emotions, and sanity. We live in a world full of worriers – when we should be the ones stepping up and becoming WARRIORS. There is a phrase I repeat when I start freaking out and worrying, it’s this: “I cannot control the things I cannot change, I cannot change the things I can’t control”. I do know the God that control’s all things, he is going before me and paving a way for me. As I hold onto his promises, my worry quickly fades and turns into fearless faith.
Fourteen – DANCE, as much as possible!!
Yes, Dance!! Even if you’re a Baptist (they will get the joke). There are many instances within the bible where biblical people danced (believe it or not).
2 Samuel 6:14-15 “Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.”
Yes, we are talking about King David here. He danced and he did so with all his might. So, let me ask you “What is keeping you from Dancing?”
< Scared, Prideful, Afraid of what others will think?>
Dance anyway. Where the spirit of the Lord is THERE is freedom!
Or grab you a few friends and dance all the stress out (Me, Paisley and Megan did that one night it was FUN)! We literally pulled up some Just Dance videos on YouTube, mainly because we were too lazy to set up the Wii. It is one of my favorite memories!
SO DANCE, like no one is watching!!
Fifteen – be patient, God’s timing is really the BEST
Really trust this lesson. I had to learn this the tough way. God isn’t against you; he’s not looking down trying to ruin your life. He is actually right in the middle of your life, interceding, and fighting for us. Have patience that he does know what he is doing! Even when we think we know what is BEST for us we can’t literally see five years, five months or even five minutes ahead of our lives. Trust the one who can, who sees it all, who knows the ends and outs of your heart. He wants to give you the BEST, be patient and let him.
Sixteen – We battle against more than flesh and bone
You ever have constant conflict with one person. Maybe it’s someone constantly questioning your Christianity. Or it’s a really, really mean person. You know, they were also created in the imagine of God. The bible clearly says our battle isn’t against “flesh and blood” but against “the rules of the darkness of this world”. Put’s things into perspective doesn’t it. You can turn on the evening news and know how much evil is in our world. It’s ran by THE enemy, the king of lies. I’ve mentioned a lot about Super Summer in this blog and all the good that came along with it. However, there was A TON of spiritual warfare going on among the camp. Mainly because students were coming to know Jesus and grow in him and Satan was NOT liking it. One moment during big church I would feel the spirit of God move so powerfully but yet you could almost feel the spiritual warfare going on in the hearts of these students. It was the most insane moment.
Overall, next time you’re having a problem with someone consider what else is going on spiritually. Even in disagreements, shine Jesus into their lives.
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Seventeen – hug people, Rob Leonard taught me that one
This one is so simple, yet means so much! If you know Rob (my college minister at UAM) he is a hugger. Which at first I thought was, interesting… I’ve never met anyone who would just hug someone the first time they ever had met them. However, working as his intern for over a year you begin to understand the comfort and intentional first impression you receive when you go in for a hug and someone is expecting a hand shake. I bet Jesus hugged. A LOT. When I finally get to see Jesus, you bet there will be a big ole HOP, SKIP, HUG going on. Even if hugging isn’t your thing, I suggest you try it out. Give someone a hug today!
Eighteen – Wisdom is one of the greatest gifts
Wisdom is one of God’s favorite gifts to give. It was a prayer of mine even at such a young age to have wisdom. In growing up and praying for that I can surely see God has gifted me the ability to see a different perspective of life (To be able to evaluate a situation, and understand the consequences behind it). That DOES NOT mean I’ve never messed up and done something really stupid clearly knowing the consequence that came along with that choice. My mother has always told me that I have a very old soul. Wisdom seems like a very simple gift, doesn’t it? However, nothing is worth much when given unless you use it right? Using wisdom in the right ways and knowing when and when not to speak is the hardest part.
Learning from the mistakes of other’s around me has always been the easiest way of learning what not to do. There have been times I have had to make mistakes of my own and learn from them as well. Wisdom holds a high place in my heart. I pray for it continuously. Pray for Wisdom, God wants to give it to you.
Nineteen – Give GOD your plans, your life, your dreams, your relationship
Along with my control issue comes lesson 19. If you want to see God really start moving in your life and speaking to you – you’ve gotta give him all you’ve got. Your plans, your life, your money, your dreams and your relationships. God knows your heart and what you truly want but he also knows how AWESOME he created you to be. He has a direct purpose for you to fulfill. GIVE him all you’ve got, he’s ready to give you a life full of purpose to glorify his kingdom.
Twenty – He has placed you where you are for a reason
This past school year, I battled so hard and picked a lot of fights with God. I wanted to be “someone”. I questioned why he had called me where he had called me. If you’ve ever been to Monticello, well, there isn’t a ton to do. But God quickly showed me the people in Monticello that were eternally, spiritually investing in my future. It will probably sound crazy to you (and I love my career field of CIS) but I’m pretty sure God called me UAM to get to know him better. And I have done just that. I’ve never been so in sync with his plans for me as I am now. And I have many, many people from good ole Monticello to thank for that. I can’t wait to see what my last year there has waiting for me!!
As this post comes to an end, so has my birthday! It was a wonderful day, full of lots of love, laughter and my amazing family! I wouldn’t trade these past 20 years for ANYTHING! Thank you to each person who has invested time in my life to get me where I am today (you know who you are). I hope as you read through these twenty different things, you grabbed a hold of one of them and you can learn from my journey.
God is good. God is good at being God.