Sep 12, 2012

What my twenties taught me...

This post is more appropriately titled "What God taught me in my twenties" or "How God sanctified me over the past ten years" but neither of those titles has quite the same blogger-esque ring to it as "What my twenties taught me."

My twentieth birthday. Check out those early millennium fashions...

Today is my thirtieth birthday. I am in my 30s. Weird. But I kind of like it. At least, I think I do, but I'm only a few hours in, so I will let you know. I've been reflecting lately on everything I've learned and the many ways I've changed since my 20th birthday ten years ago and I thought I would share some of my lessons with you. So here it is. What my 20s taught me...

My 30th birthday trip this past weekend.

Read the Bible. Every day. First thing. -- If I could only write one piece of wisdom on this list, this would be it. When I was 25 years old, I finally responded in obedience to the conviction to rise early and read my Bible first thing in the morning. Before that time, I would read my Bible "fairly often" but usually at night, when I was dead tired after a dry day lived without God's Word flooding through my blood and my spirit. I don't think it's a coincidence that my 25th year was also the year of the most significant spiritual transformation in my life. I was humbled in so many ways, my faith grew exponentially, and my love for Jesus grew deeper than ever before. God's Word changed me. His Word is powerful and holy and beautiful and life-giving. It is a gift. It is better than your morning coffee. Your comfy bed. Your work out. Your to-do list. Read it every day. First thing.

Pursue your friends. -- The first few years of the twenties are often spent building deep friendships, often during college or those early stages of one's career. But then comes the rest of the twenties when marriage, babies, graduation, grad school, and new jobs pull friendships apart. Suddenly there is not as much time to spend with friends and often geographical distance makes meeting up very difficult. Pursue your friends during this time. Yes, phone calls might be less frequent, get-togethers might happen only every year or two, but don't let the busyness of life pull you away from the friends who love you and have helped shaped you. Call, email, and send notes of encouragement as often as you can. Plan trips when finances allow. Don't let the dearest friends who love you and speak truth to you {and, of course, you strive to do the same for them} sit on the back burner or slip away for good.

Buy quality. -- Perhaps it is due to the fact that my parents don't care much about clothes and they made me shop at Target before Target got cool, but I have learned over the past ten years not be a sucker for sales. In my fashion-deprived youth, I would buy anything I could that was on sale if it was from a trendy store, even if it was downright ugly or the wrong size or the wrong style for my body. I am slowly learning to buy less, but buy better. When it comes to clothes, I would rather buy an item that is well-made and matches my style and body type, even if it costs more, than a cheap, trendy item that I buy just because it's on sale for $10. The same goes for home items. I have learned to be patient about decorating, waiting for the right items to come along. And I always research big ticket items before I buy them, reading reviews and preferably buying from a reputable company {such as Amazon} that I know will return the item or exchange it if needed. I would rather buy an appliance that will last twenty years than save $20 and buy one that only lasts three years.

Exercise regularly. -- I've never had the perfect body. When I was in high school there were always girls who were a little bit skinnier than me. There were girls who looked better in a bikini than I did. There were girls who could run faster or jump higher when playing sports. At times, I got jealous. I was always more of a bookworm than an athlete, but I wanted to do well in both school and sports. When I went off to college, I quickly realized that I would become overweight if I didn't start exercising regularly, so I started running, even though I don't really love it and I'm not naturally good at it. Now I've been a consistent runner for almost ten years. I'm still not that good at it, but I do it. At least three times a week. I still don't have the perfect body. I have cellulite. I could stand to lose five pounds. My hips are my problem area. I could cut out some carbs from my diet. But you know what? I have a good body. As I age, I am in better and better shape and overall health compared to my peers because I made exercise a priority ten years ago. I am so thankful for the gift of discipline and self-control and the healthy body God has given me. When I am in the midst of a run that seems particularly miserable or difficult, I start praying and thanking God for the healthy legs that carry me through it.

The Holy Spirit. You want Him. -- I've written about this before here, but I've learned over the past five years not to neglect the Holy Spirit. He is God. He is good. He is the power of Christ in me. Instead of being ignorant to the Holy Spirit's promptings, I try to invite the Holy Spirit into my life during my quiet times, when I pray, when I feel tempted to sin, and I try to be sensitive to His commands when I hear them. The Holy Spirit can make you obedient when you don't want to be and equip you to do God's work in ways you think are impossible. Ask the Spirit to enter in to your life every day and obey what He commands.

Choose a church. -- I've learned over the past ten years that church is not all about me. If you are believer, you should belong to a local body. No question about it. And it's okay to shop around a bit and find a church you like, but once you pick one that meets your general needs {theologically sound teaching, realistic geographic location - you can get there in 30 minutes or less, etc.}, you need to stay and serve. There are very few reasons to leave a Bible-believing, Gospel-centered church. Church hopping to find something bigger or smaller or better is not a valid reason. Once you choose a church, commit to it by serving the people there. If you see a problem in your church, pray about it and see if there is any humble way you can help solve that problem. Church is not about you. It is about God and seeing Him glorified.

Protect marriage. -- Whether or not you are married now or get married in the future, you have a holy obligation to see marriage protected and upheld in our culture. Marriage is good. It is a gift from the Lord. And it's the most vivid picture He has given us to show how Christ loves His church. If you are married, you should renew your commitment to your marriage daily. Work to ferociously love your spouse, repent of sin, and offer grace. If you are not married, you should live your life in such a way that your future spouse, if God calls you to marriage, is already honored by your actions and thoughts today. Also, we are all called to uphold marriage culturally. I think of the legislation that makes a mockery of marriage today, and the casual, if not flippant, view of divorce held by so many. Whether or not you are married, as Christians, we should be set apart from these attitudes. We should esteem marriage between a man and woman as a covenant and institution established by God for our good, and we should not take part in jokes about divorce and adultery, which paint an inaccurate picture of a covenant that is supposed to last until death, in order to paint a picture of the salvation covenant with God, which lasts for all eternity.

Thirty is not that old. -- I'm not saying this just to comfort myself. Up until a few years ago, my vision of thirty was a mom with lots of kids, frumpy clothes, and no passions or hobbies other than changing diapers and packing brown bag lunches. I don't know if this is because I can vaguely remember my mom in her early 30s. She had me when she was almost 27, so my earliest memories are when my mom was 30 or 31 years old. I think I might be equating "frumpy" with 80s fashion. But now that I have witnessed many of my best friends become moms, I have realized that they are still fun people with kids. If anything, motherhood has made them better as God has sanctified them with His grace through parenthood. And I have seen so many blog friends embrace their passions and their dreams through writing, photography and creative entrepreneurship, regardless of their age. I have realized that 30 is not quite as old as I always pictured it. I can still have passions, pursue dreams that are yet unfulfilled, wear stylish clothes, and strive to be attractive to my husband in my 30s. I am in great health and can run and jump and ride bikes and do everything I could do in my twenties. I am thankful for my youth, but I also know gray hair and a long, obedient life well lived are a blessing from the Lord, so I have no reason to fear aging, even though I am clearly YOUNG right now! :)


  1. Beth @ the city9/12/12, 1:56 PM

    well said, Jen! I learned a lot in my twenties and am still learning into my 30s :)

    Happy Birthday!

  2. Ruthie Hart9/12/12, 2:07 PM

    I love this Jen....great insight for me in my mid twenties, great goals for me! I would love it if I could start reading the bible in the morning...Jon and read it at night/early evening and I really should start my day with Him. And choosing a church is SO can become what God commanded us to, The Body. And 30 is not old at all!! I am so excited for Jon to turn 30 in April, I think its sexy!

  3. Kate @ Daffodils9/12/12, 2:21 PM

    Happy Birthday! The 20s are definitely life changing. I love your advice about protecting marriage.

  4. Brooke Houston9/12/12, 2:37 PM

    first: Happy Birthday!
    second: Thank you. Thank you for this list of realistic goals for twenty-somethings that are within reach. It's so strange how much you grow and learn in your 20's. I'm really looking forward to living these years and growing with the Lord myself.

  5. Jessi9/12/12, 2:56 PM

    Happy birthday dear friend and sister! I could not agree more with every single one of these statements! I love and admire your passion for the Lord and his church. I'm so blessed to call you friend. I hope you have a wonderful birthday and a fantastic year!!

  6. Ashley C.9/12/12, 2:57 PM

    You speak truth Mrs. Russum and I appreciate you as a friend! Thanks for being authentic in all aspects of your life - you're a great example of a Godly woman!

  7. Sara9/12/12, 4:24 PM

    Happy Birthday Jen! I love this post! I am in my late 20's and the truths you speak, particularly about the Spirit and church are right on target with what I feel the Lord has shown me as well. Great stuff! And I agree, 30 is not old! May God shower you with blessings this next year in every area of your life!


  8. Kristin9/12/12, 4:47 PM

    You are constantly such a blessing and encouragement to me. I love you! Can't wait to share this wisdom with my college ministry girls!

  9. Kassi Mortensen9/12/12, 4:48 PM

    First, Happy Birthday Jen!! Such a good post, as always. I love how eloquently you put things. 30 is NOT old girl! You're just getting started!!! And I'm not just saying that! I also loved what you wrote about EVERYONE working to uphold the covenant of marriage. I see these jokes on FB that people post about life being over after marriage and the like... Life is just beginning once you're married! Now you have a partner to make everything that much more fun and enjoyable. I just don't get how people can see it as anything other than amazing. Enjoy your day friend!

  10. Rachel9/12/12, 7:52 PM

    Happy happy birthday! This was so timely and made me tear up a few times. I'm ready to call some of my college sisters right now!

  11. Beffy 559/12/12, 9:24 PM

    So I was a frumpy middle aged mom. huh? I always thought I was the fun Mom. I even remember people thinking I was your sister because we had so much fun together. Remember the skip days? Or the grocery store where the clerk thought we were having to much fun for a grocery store, granted I never drove my car into the store like someone I could name, but frumpy? I hope not!!!

  12. Nicole @ Three 319/13/12, 8:49 AM

    Beautifully said!!! I hope you enjoyed your trip back to Fort Worth for the TCU game, I've heard good and bad reactions about the new-and-improved stadium. What did you think? Nonetheless, what a victory to start the season for Horned Frog Nation. Blessings to you and happy (belated) birthday. I have another year of my 20s but your tips are poignant and appreciated. I need to do better in some things!!!!

    Hugs and blessings,
    Nicole @ Three 31

  13. Adam n' Shalyn9/13/12, 11:19 AM

    Jen, I love how candid you are! I think the twenties were so good to you and have set you up for another fantastic decade!

  14. Ande9/13/12, 1:54 PM

    Love these thoughts, especially the first one. I couldn't agree more. Also just wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog. I've seen it a couple of times on Casey's link up. I just now added you to my Google Reader feed, where I'm sure to read the few blogs I really enjoy. In your welcoming caption, you say that you hope your readers "find Jesus . . . and leave inspired to love HIM more." I do! Happy 30th! Blessings!

  15. Samara9/16/12, 10:19 PM

    Can I just say, you are the blogger that I look up to the most- you are very wise!

    I am 24 and am learning some of these things. The one about staying at your church? Yep, learnt that one big time last year. It's hard sometimes but I spent the whole year learning that you can't just find a new church when you get sick of the old one, just like you can't change your family...

    As someone who has been married for 2.5 years I am also learning the need to protect my marriage. Of all things in life, I have learnt it is one of the things you really truly do need to throw yourself into and never give up on. Marriage is good.

    I am beginning to realise the reading the Bible at the start of the day thing. I'm not there yet, but I hope to be.

    Happy Birthday,

  16. Helena11/12/12, 4:04 PM

    Oy, I wish I could learn to decorate slowly! I just want everything to look good NOW.

  17. Nadine1/16/13, 11:11 PM

    This is an absolutely beautiful post. Happy Birthday! Oh goodness, I feel like I need to bookmark this post for when I forget this sweet wisdom. xoxo

  18. Nadine1/16/13, 11:13 PM

    Oh my goodness - I just realized that this isn't a new post. Ha. So VERY belated Happy Birthday, but still thanks for sharing this wisdom :)

Add comment
Load more...

Please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!