It blows my mind that I am turning 31 this month. My twenties were filled to the brim and my thirtieth year has been nothing but wonderful new beginnings. I wrote the article below this time last year. I still resonate with a lot of these thoughts and feel there's value for all of you who are in a season of waiting.
I often daydream of simpler times. Times when children could walk to a neighbor’s house without a second thought and then walk home for dinner as the street lights turned on. Times when men worked to provide for their family, regardless of how they felt. Times where a woman’s main task was to raise her children well and create a peaceful home. My sweet Italian grandparents and the home my father grew up in was the epitome of what I described above. Perhaps, I see this era more glorified because I did not live in it. I am sure there were burdens they experienced amidst the simplicity I envy. However, I can’t help but wonder what my grandparents would have thought about the phrase I overheard in a recent conversation.
30 is the new 20! My internal eye roll launched into full effect. Days later I couldn’t really shake the moment. Why is everyone trivializing such a defining decade? My generation is mocked with terms, like “twixters” or “kidults.” Videos such as this one, Millennials in the Workplace, surface about our work ethic. Where you can find humor in the stereotypes, the truth of the matter is some people fit them to a T and others tremble at their thought.
There’s no denying that the life pressures of your twenties can be intense. And the questions can be overwhelming. Will you graduate college in 4 years? Will you go to grad school? Where in Europe have you backpacked? Why aren’t you dating anyone? Where are you interning? Do you think you’ll marry your boyfriend of one month? Then, say you get married (hopefully not after only one month), where’s the wedding? And the honeymoon? Are you trying for kids? Saving for a house? And after you have that first baby, when’s the next one on the way? Did you get that promotion? Are you interviewing for a higher paying job? Woah. Then there are times of mundane waiting in your twenties, where you would just die to have an answer to any of those questions.
My twenties were unique. In my early twenties, I had my dream life. By my mid-twenties, I had brought a child into the world, which was incredible. And in my late twenties, all of it turned out way different than I had planned. The decade was filled with the greatest joys of my life, as well as the most excruciating pains. God refined me in my twenties. He brought me new levels of wisdom. He taught me the straight-up, real power of prayer. And most of all, the invigorating beauty of patience.
As I was preparing to write this article, patience started showing up everywhere. In every meditation, in every podcast, in every homily. It’s always reassuring when the Lord confirms one facet of the story you’re trying to write. What do your twenties have to do with patience? Everything. Maybe your twenties haven’t gone as planned. Join the club and ditch the pity party. Put your confidence in God, not a life plan that someone else outlined for this age group. If you’re feeling that you’ve lived in the twenty-something stereotype for too long and you’re ready to step up, do it! God has you. The thing about life pressures and the way things are “supposed to go” is that regardless of how the cards play, the increase of patience in the Lord’s time will always be of help.
The Greek word often used for patience in Scripture is makrothyemia, which means: longsuffering, steadfastness, and forbearance. The word longsuffering in the New Testament is almost always an instruction given in the context of hope.
James 5:7-11 says, “7 Dear brothers and sisters,[a] be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. 8 You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door! 10 For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.”
Galatians 6:9 says, “We must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.”
I love the promise that we are not alone in the waiting. Better still, we do not wait without hope. We are not waiting in vain, we are waiting for our God - the God who has promised and secured our full redemption. Call me crazy, but I would much rather rest in that security than the one I thought I deserved from closing out my twenties. The unwelcome intrusions of waiting into our lives are powerful opportunities to keep our hearts renewed in God. Whether you are in your twenties and they are all you’ve hoped for and then some or you are living amongst a sea of “could have been's,” look to the Lord for your confidence in the future. Next month I will be turning 30 and I’ll be honest, I am eager to leave my twenties in the past. I stand thankful for what the Lord has done to my soul and thankful for the trivial lessons learned along the way.