Friday, January 13, 2023

A Decade of Learning

On this day ten years ago, I got to see a relic of St. John the Baptist—the man who baptized Jesus. Seeing that relic as I traveled in Austria was really cool, and it is also a great starting point as I think about the years that have filled the time between that moment and today. 

Then, I was a bright-eyed sophomore in college, nineteen years old and excited to traipse across Europe with my fiancé for an entire semester.

I somehow lost that awesome hat on a train in Austria, sadly.

Now, I’m a sleepy-eyed stay-at-home mom, twenty-nine years old and happily having adventures with my husband and four children in Oklahoma.

Life looks a little bit different now than it did then!


Later this month, I’ll turn thirty, and as I prepare to leave my twenties behind, I feel a lot of gratitude to God. The past ten years have included a lot of suffering, joy, happiness, sorrow, and growth. They have been a tremendous gift. As I prepare for whatever God sends me next, I'm also thinking about six things I would love to tell myself when I was preparing to turn twenty:


Chill out. 

When you discovered that your debit card somehow did not make it to Europe with you, and that for some reason, it couldn’t get to you until the very end of the semester, you panicked a little bit. But, it will be OK. In fact, this will be some of the best marriage preparation ever, because you and your fiancĂ© will have to communicate about your purchases and budget constantly as you both use his debit card. Plus, further down the road, you’ll have tons of other unpredictable and inconvenient things happen to you during pregnancy and parenthood, things that are a much bigger deal. And you know what? It will still be OK. So, AnneMarie, please calm down, don't let anxiety rule you, and just relax


God truly does provide.

You have a fairly good idea at what the next couple years look like: after spending this semester in Europe, you’ll go back to Kansas, get a part time job, and a few months later, you will marry your beloved. Then, you two will be off to college for two more years. But after that? You haven’t even thought that far ahead. In fact, just a couple months before college graduation, you’ll be writing in your prayer journal about how you have no idea what you and your husband are going to do after graduation, and how you’re struggling to remember that God has a plan. But he does, and you will love exploring a new state with your husband when the two of you move after college.


Work on your mental health. 

There’s a stigma surrounding mental health, but please don’t wait until you are twenty-five to get into therapy (better late than never, though!). We’ve all been wounded in different ways, and it is perfectly fine and good to work with a therapist so that you can address issues and find healing.

 

Building community takes time. 

When you move after college, finding community will be a struggle. You’ll discover a wonderful church to attend and meet a couple of wonderful women you’ll “click” with, but since you are married, a lot of Catholic young adult events—that are geared towards “singles wanting to mingle”—don’t appeal to you. But, since you don’t have kids yet and you are only twenty-two, you can’t exactly relate to the married couples at church who are in their thirties and have multiple children. Hang in there, and slowly work at cultivating community with people of all ages. Slowly but surely, your community will grow.

 

Keep learning and growing. 

Please stop holding onto a “fixed” mindset and start cultivating a “growth” mindset. There are many, many ways in which you can keep learning and growing, so try to use challenges and frustrations as learning opportunities. Don’t be afraid to question things as you seek to understand the world and find ways to navigate the situations that you encounter. You are still learning and growing, no matter how old you are.

 

Have fun. 

You’re a fairly lighthearted person sometimes, but you still take yourself way too seriously (and you are way, way too hard on yourself). Do yourself a favor and lighten up a little bit! As you and your beloved figure out the rest of engagement and then married life, pregnancy, and parenthood, it’s important to acknowledge your frustrations or sorrows. But, you can still look for more opportunities to find the humor in situations. You can still find ways to have fun, even if things feel wildly out of control.

 


Without a doubt, these are all sentiments that I will continue to re-learn as I enter my thirties. I have learned many, many things in the past decade, and I’m excited to keep growing in the years ahead!

I have no idea what God has in store for me during my thirties. I imagine that there will be lots of hardships and suffering, but I know without a doubt that God will continue to shower grace, mercy, and love on my husband and I; he will always help us through it all!


“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil 4:8-9)

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing these lessons you've learned in the past decade. Wisdom is such a treasure! The 30's are great and more laid-back in some ways, since the 20's has so many unknowns.

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    1. You are welcome! Thanks for the encouragement, Lianna-there have been a lot of changes and intensity in my 20s, so it's nice to hear that the 30s are more laid-back in some ways :)

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  2. This is great! I do think my 30s have been so much better than my 20s. Still hard, but in a different way.

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  3. Happy upcoming birthday!! The 30's are wonderfully rich!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Laura! I'm excited about the 30s!

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