25.

It was my birthday last week. I turned 25 years old.

It’s crazy to think how much God has grown me over the past year. Here are some of the things I’ve learned.

  1. My identity is in Christ. I applied for grad schools in this past year. During the process, I was reminded that my identity is not in school or my career, but in CHRIST. I felt so much more at peace with applying for grad schools this second time around because I knew that no matter what happened, God would be sovereign over the outcome. He is for my good, so no matter what happened, I could trust that God was working very purposefully for His glory.
  2. Christ-like love doesn’t mean loving those who are easy to love. I seriously struggle with loving people who I feel like I don’t “click” with and people who don’t affirm me (I’m a big words of affirmation person and I’m also very sensitive to people’s body language and facial expressions). But is that really what loving people the way God loves means? Not at all! That’s how the rest of the world loves, so how am I reflecting Christ in how I treat others if I don’t love those who are difficult to love? God pursued ME – a sinner, a rebel, someone who hated him. Yet he redeemed me, knowing my sinful heart and its desires, because he LOVES ME unconditionally and undeservingly. He saved me and bought me back through His son Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for my sins and whose righteousness was imputed to me so that I may have a right relationship with the Lord. How amazing is that? So knowing this, how can I choose not to love someone? Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I have all the more power in Christ to love others who I don’t naturally gravitate towards. People who I feel awkward with, people who are harsher in their words than I’d like, people who don’t have the same humor as me, people who have different interests than I do, people who I don’t have the greatest “chemistry” with. God calls me to love all people; oh how I fall so very short of that. But only God can do the transforming work, because I definitely wouldn’t have this heart on my own.
  3. I don’t deserve anything, including a relationship. Oh how God humbled me.
  4. My ultimate joy and satisfaction should be in Christ alone. I struggled during my first semester moving up to norcal. I lost the comforts I had in LA – family, friends, church family, good food, things to do. While all these things are good gifts from God, I realized how easily I turned them into idols or even distractions. I look to these things for comfort and satisfaction instead of our ultimate joy and satisfaction – Christ. Because I didn’t have access to these comforts when I moved up, I learned to depend on Christ even more and cling to him. It’s through trials that God humbles us and shows us our need for Him. And God was so gracious to provide so many things – my siblings up here in norcal, a few friends from college, a place to live in a great location with awesome roommates, the fact that I’m even in a grad program at all (so undeserving), and a church family. Yet how easily I looked at what I didn’t have and become discontent. How easily I turned my eyes away from God’s blessings and looked at what other people had and envied them. I realized how fickle my heart was and how prideful I was, thinking I deserve certain things. God reminded me that in this moment, I have everything I could possibly need. He is SOVEREIGNLY working in me. The specific circumstance I’m in is meant to grow me, challenge me, and sanctify me, so I can trust that He is at work and that He is good and faithful. I still struggle daily to set my joy in Christ alone, so I pray that God would continually work in my heart to make me desperate for him and that I would grow my love for Jesus.
  5. I need the church. Christians can’t run this race alone. We were made to be in community, and the church is meant to help us in our walks, rebuke us, admonish us, encourage us, point us to Christ, and bear our burdens. The church keeps us accountable, and we are meant to be under the care of pastors and elders to shepherd our hearts. We can’t do it alone. We need other people, and not just on Sundays, but we need to be integrated into the life of the church. Jesus loves and adores His bride. Do I love the church in this same way?

Praise God for another year. Praise God for how he grew me so much. Praise God for family, friendships, a church family, this season of life, and continual growth. Praying that God grows me more this next year to become more like His Son, and that I would fall in love with His Word and learn to treasure Christ above all things.

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