I'm Feeling 22

Today I turn 22. 21 was a hard year. It didn’t pull any punches. 22 has me walking in with my fists covering my eyes, trying not to make my flinching seem so obvious.

Unlike other birthdays, this one feels especially weighty. I used to cringe when people would ask me on my birthday, “So, how does it feel to be __ years old?” because it always felt exactly the same as being the age I was the day before. Nothing felt changed. This year though, I feel changed, different, older, in some good ways and some bad ways.

21 stands behind me with death and loss and pain and sadness, and this new year stands in front of me with newness and life and heartache and probably more pain because pain is constant, isn’t it? I wish I knew how to walk into the year confidently, but I’m finding myself wanting to curl up into a tiny ball and stay right where I am.

I feel older, yes. I feel more equipped to love others well and to stand in hard places where I wouldn’t have been comfortable standing a year ago. I feel too old to settle for easy answers and trite platitudes as a response to pain, though I am too young still to hear those trite platitudes and automatically respond with grace instead of anger. I feel old enough to know how much is not black-and-white, how much our intentions matter and how many different ways our words can be twisted and misunderstood. I feel weariness in my soul that seems like an older kind of weariness, the kind that starts to settle into a heart as a person experiences more of the world’s pain and more of the comfort that can only come from the Lord.

At the same time, I feel too young to do much of what 22 will require of me. I feel much too young to nurture and care for another human being. I feel much too young to faithfully care for my home and my husband. I feel much too young to respond to questions quickly and gracefully, pointing the person to Christ instead of trying to point them to myself.

I feel too old and too young to be 22, and if we’re being really honest, that angst probably adds another reason why I’m too young, too insecure, too unprepared.

And yet I am known, at 21 and 22, by the God who knows when I sit down and when I rise up, knows when I am feeling too young and too old, knows when I am unprepared and scared, knows when I am too sure of myself and not leaning in closely enough to him.

The Psalmist writes,

“You hem me in, behind and before,

   and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me…”

This is where I find myself, somehow both unsure and sure at the same time, and hemmed in, behind and before, by a Father who knows and cares for me deeply and who has laid his hand upon me and this year of being 22.

Photo Credit: The incredibly talented  Jenna Richman .

Photo Credit: The incredibly talented Jenna Richman.

Quiet Faithfulness

Originally published by Horizons Resources

A year before I started college, I read a stack of books that were hot in the Christian book market (I was the cool kid in high school) and the familiar thread of full-time ministry as the highest calling ran through each. I was not alone. In fact, there was a movement of people my age who grabbed hold of these books and read them cover to cover, determining that full-time ministry was the only worthy calling for any Christian.

I’m sure for some of those people, full-time ministry was a perfect fit for their unique giftings and strengths, but for me and many others, this idea that some work was more spiritual than other work was a heavy burden to carry. These were books that said, “This is how you love and follow Jesus,” and then painted a picture of the Christian life in only primary colors.

The “radical” Christian life has become idolized in our churches and in Christian culture. We view pastors and missionaries as people who have a more direct connection to God, something deeper than what is available to the average person. The outflow of this idolization is a belittling of the lives of small, daily faithfulness.

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