How to survive a quarter life crisis

The other day on instagram I shared that birthdays always feel bittersweet to me. I wrote about my 24th birthday and the way I cried sad tears about getting older because I was overwhelmed with the sense that time is running out for me. I recognize that 24 is pretty young and so is 26, but to me, a planner who has always mapped out the action steps and forecast for my life start-to-finish, it’s less about the specific age and more about feeling unfulfilled. It wasn’t even so much that there was something I intended to accomplish that I hadn’t. It was worry that my grand vision of a BIG life was becoming further away the closer I got to my future. Like maybe there was disappointment of reality to face on the other side of this new age. I’ll tell you right now that those feelings are liars. My head knows that, but sometimes my soul still feels heavy on the topic. Once in a heavy moment I said to my husband, “what if the big life I envision for myself isn’t what God wants for me?” He, in his wisdom and leadership, stopped that doubt in it’s tracks and didn’t allow me to accept it any further. Before I continue let me remind you, the key to getting where you’re going is the right compass and road markers that will keep you focused on your destination. They’ll remind you of your “why,” reveal your “where,” and help you find your “how.” I hope you have those and that they’re good ones. Not all voices deserve to have input and the people you put on the map can make or break the journey. So for the next 1,000 words, let me be a cheerleader on the sidelines of your race saying, KEEP IT UP!

The years so far are important; full of growth and heartbreak and grace. The ones ahead though, they hold even more. They are full of hope and joy and immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine.

"What God has planned for you will not pass you by." From Lauren Carter @laurenoelcarter and TheGuestRoom.blog

The 3 big lies of a whenever-life-crisis:

Lie #1 – I’m not where I should be

Oh I hear this (and feel it) more than any other.

I’ve heard women in their 20s – single, married, dating, professionally successful, still in school, home owners, renters, moms and not – in EVERY stage, voice the same questions and longings and wrestlings of their hearts: “Who am I?” “What was I created to do?” “What’s in store for my future?” “How did I get here and does it matter?” “When will the dreams in my heart make sense?” “How do I get from here to there?” “When will I get to live out the things I’ve been praying for?…” 

My point is, it’s not the next stage that will satisfy. As frustrating as it is, we aren’t meant to be fully satisfied in this world. We were created to live in perfection with our creator. So as sweet as this life can be and as meaningful as our time on this earth is, we can’t get caught up chasing after fulfillment here. It’s not the end goal. And as long as we’re living like it is, we’ll always be disappointed. 

So shake off that pressure and walk a little lighter! If you’re living for heaven, your future is already secure! It’s full of more joy than you’ve ever known and better than any outcome you could ever achieve on your own. There’s no use worrying about the meantime. Your best is yet. to. come! 

Here’s how I know:

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

“The Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing will he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” Psalm 84:11

“So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead!” (1 Peter 1:6)

“He’s preparing you for what he’s prepared for you.” – Christine Caine

Lie #2 – It’s too late for me

Let me tell you something, what God has prepared for you will not pass you by! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve allowed stress and anxiety to rob me of a day because I believed the lie that I wont see the dreams of my heart come to fruition due to choices I’ve made or circumstances I’ve experienced in the past. 

Sometimes dreams change and sometimes they look a little different than we imagine, but we are loved by a God who dreamed up the greatest adventure story for us. He places dreams in our heart for a reason. He might ask you to trust him, and give it back for awhile. He might even ask you to let go of one dream for something better. But don’t for one second believe He doesn’t care about those things you hope for.

They matter to you, they matter to Him.

When I need a reminder of where my dreams and I stand with God, I think of Joseph. God gave Joseph literal dreams – long before they ever came to fruition! Dreams of vision and action, leadership, and even glory. I don’t know for sure, but I bet there was a moment between those dreams and the reality that Joseph wondered why God even gave them to him. When it seemed like those dreams must’ve been for someone else. Or maybe he even doubted whether or not those dreams actually came from God.

Did you know Joseph was just a teenager when God gave him the dreams we can read about in Genesis? 17!!! I don’t know what his exact age was when he saw them become reality, but I do know that a whole lot of heartbreak and defeat happened during the years in between! 2 were even spent in jail!  

"Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith." -Elisabeth Elliot (from Lauren Carter @laurennoelecarter and TheGuestRoom.blog)

It’s amazing to look back on a situation and see the way God worked things together for good. It’s not always so clear in the moment. That’s when we preach to ourselves about God’s faithfulness in the past. He’s done it before and he’ll do it again! So “Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith!” – Elisabeth Elliot. You’re not running out of time. You’re walking into exactly what God has created you for – in his perfect timing. As Christine Caine says it, “He’s preparing you for what he’s prepared for you.”

Lie #3 – I don’t know who I am

Lean in for this one… Either do I! You know why? We’re changing all the time. And that’s a GREAT thing! I’m finally learning that growing up means growth. You can’t have one without the other and then where would we be? Something about this realization is changing my relationship with time (slowly, but surely 😉 ). The past was good to me. Sometimes I even think, “I wish I could go back to then or there. I wish I could take the maturity and wisdom time has granted me to that place and situation….” HELLO! Thats the beauty of the present and even more, the future! We have more to bring to the table now than we did then! Our dreams and our gifts and our talents and our enneagram types are more refined today than they’ve ever been thanks to the years God has shaped and strengthened us. And not just for the sake of comforting us when we’re feeling old – so that we can go into the years ahead with new energy and motivation. So we can run with anticipation towards his good plans for us without growing weary. That increased capacity hasn’t been given to you so that you can like yourself more, is so you can love others better! 

You might not feel like you “know who you are” every day or in every season. Maybe a birthday is bringing up these feelings. Maybe it’s a new transition or the lack of one you’re longing for. The good news is, you don’t have to rely on your feelings to confirm your identity. Even in the process of becoming who you are, whose you are is constant. There’s a book full of truth that says you are loved and valued and full of purpose and potential. It says you were created thoughtfully and intentionally. It says you’re capable of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control! (Galations 5:22-23) It literally says you are to die for! (John 3:16, Romans 5:8…) You know what else it says? That all scripture is God breathed and therefore, so are you. (2 Timothy 3:16)

So how do we combat the crisis?

This morning I was reading through the book of Mark and something stood out to me differently than ever before. Just a few little red words, “How many loaves do you have?”(ch. 8 vs. 4) I love it when God speaks to us in a new way through his living and active word. The disciples were panicked about how to feed a giant crowd that Jesus was preaching to. They were spiraling; overthinking ideas for how to move the people and find provision and solve a 5,000 + people sized problem. That’s when Jesus asks them the simple question, “How many loaves do you have?” He didn’t say, “Talk amongst yourselves, think really hard, and present your best game plan for a solution!” He just asked them what they had now; what they brought to the table, today, just as they are. Then he used it to do something miraculous. 

Just like we aren’t meant to find our ultimate meaning and fulfillment in this world, we aren’t meant to have all the answers about our lives here either. Where would the need for faith be then? God just asks us to give him what we’ve got and to trust him with the outcome. In other words, do your best and let God do the rest!

Give yourself time to grow into what God’s got for you.

I love the way Emily P. Freeman says it, “Do the next right thing.” She has a whole book and podcast on this subject that have been a game changer for me! So how many loaves do you have today? Do the next right thing. It’s that simple! Whether or not you feel the weight of a full blown “crisis” or maybe you just need a good old reminder of perspective, let me tell you the advice I’d give my younger self: Lighten up! God is too good and full of grace for us to live in anxiety about how it all might turn out. (And you’re too young! 🙂 ) Don’t forget, we know how it turns out in the end! So give yourself time to grow into what God’s got for you. The cross already overcame your crises. And birthdays are for parties! 

 

🙂 If this encouraged you, will you do me a favor? Will you share on social media or send it to a friend? Every like and pin and share means more than you know! So thanks in advance! And bless you bless you bless you!

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