turning twenty and other ramblings

This month I enter a new decade:  my 20's.
It's crazy. Part of me doesn't believe I'm here, yet another feels like I've already been forever.

The past 10 years were unique. It's been a lot. I traveled to 9 countries, but lived in 3. I learned to speak three new languages, but remain fluent in only one more. I went through middle school, high school, and now parts of college. I've gone from a little girl with short hair to a young woman??? with shorter, shaggier hair and a plethora of stretch marks.

I've been reading through my old journals, planners, margins of books I love... anything that shows how I've changed... grown?
In one I was a child eating sugar cane and writing only funny stories in my "journal," but another yielded tear stained pages and angry rants about street harassment and muggings. It makes me wonder when growing up became synonymous with losing innocence.

Sometimes I think it's always been this way.

There are days when I look back on the last 10 years and think of the people and places I've loved and lost and feel a deep burgeoning sadness and a weight that I'm sure everyone in this weird transition period labeled "Young Adulthood" feels. But in a way, I'm thankful for that.

I'm thankful for how I'm growing and learning. I'm thankful for the days that feel real when sometimes I feel like I'm just floating around as time ticks by. The past 10 years first exposed me to true pain: to loss, to betrayal, to the downright messed up world we live in... maybe the next 10 will be about finding the purpose in that.

I used to think of life in a much more Karma-centric way. Not necessarily that God was punishing me, or that if I was perfect then my life would be smooth sailing, but in my naiveté I believed in a "one and done" theory. Like somehow we would go through one or two hard times and if we handled them well we'd be golden from then on. But thats not how it works. Life is a cyclical process of breaking, healing, growing, and learning.

A whole slew of things have hit this year and at times I've felt like I was starting life all over again.
I spent day after day sitting with God, journal and bible open. I cherished those quiet moments. Amidst feelings of betrayal and loss I encountered a resounding curious joy I hadn't expected.  From coffee shop, to hammock, to my bed I devoured everything I could get my hands on. Elizabeth Elliot, Sarah Bessey, and Henri Nouwen took their places among C.S. Lewis as spiritual mentors, and dear friends embarked with me on a time to explore where pain fit into Christianity.

I used to think the purpose of pain was to mature: to grow hard and calloused and guarded, but I am beginning to see that maybe it's actually the opposite.
God's will is not for me to become calloused, but to humble me, to refine me to be just a tad more like him. He does not want me to close myself off to those around me, but to use my experiences to bring light to others. Suffering should not raise me up, or give me superiority, but rather show me that my life is not mine, and my hope cannot be found anywhere on this earth.
I've always prided myself on my strength and identified with my suffering, but I am being told to take pride in my weakness and boast only in Christ.

There's nothing in the Bible that guarantees a good life on earth, or even happiness, but somehow that's what American Christianity has promised me
Yet, as I searched for truth and meaning in my pain I found that Christ spoke nothing of worldly satisfaction, but rather Christians are promised pain and suffering. We are guaranteed hardship and told to carry our crosses.

In the first few pages of her book Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey references à French philosopher Ricoeur and his concept of a "second naïveté." Essentially the first naïveté is us "taking everything thing at face value," blindly accepting faith before we begin to question. When we are thrown into hardship, when things don't settle, our faith is challenged and can truly grow.
Then after this we can enter second naïveté, or as Bessey describe it, "life after the death of what was once so alive, after the sorting through what remains, after the rummage sale perhaps."
I feel like the past ten years have taken me from my first naïveté and thrown me into the wilderness. Maybe this quiet joy is the beginning of my second naïveté.

As I approach my 20's I have no I no idea what they'll look like. I know that I want to travel more, maybe do Peace Corps, start a PhD, but I have no clue what will come my way, and that's exciting!
I am confident they'll be quite an adventure and I am certain there will be hard times, but ultimately I know that my God is active and present and with him I walk confidently into whatever the future holds.
So 20's come at me!

I'll end with this hymn by George Matheson I found in an Elizabeth Elliot book thats been soothing my soul recently:
"O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be

O Light that folllowest al my way,
 I yield my flickering torch to Thee; 
My heart restores its borrowed ray, 
That in Thy sunshine's blaze its day 
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seeks me through pain,
 I cannot close my heart to Thee;
 I trace the rainbow through the rain, 
And feel the promise is not vain 
That morn shall tearless be.

O cross that lifest up my head, 
I dare not ask to fly from Thee; 
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be."


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