I spoke with a young woman today upset with the reality of facing the age of 23, which she is turning this week. She seemed upset that she didn’t exactly know where her life was going and it just seemed like she should by now. Well, I am not “much” older, 10 years her senior, but I can say, I am not sure you ever have it figured out. You see, life throws twists and turns at you. You THINK you know what you want from life, who you are going to be, who you will marry, where you live, how many kids you have and when all this should be accomplished by…… and well, then life happens.
I set out to be a Kindergarten teacher my whole childhood. I picked my college out in 7th grade and never wanted to attend anywhere else….. I got accepted there. But….. 2 weeks after graduation, they informed me that they didn’t have space for me to actually attend there. I went on a Missions trip to Puerto Rico and knew that wherever I ended up, I wanted to serve God wholeheartedly. I never had a boyfriend by the time I graduated. I giggled and thought that if I didn’t get married before I graduated college, I would teach in Puerto Rico – since the guys down there thought I was pretty (with my chunkier hips and curvy self).
Two months later, I find myself enrolled in a small, conservative Bible college – majoring in missions. Completely different than anything I thought I wanted. More rules than I had living under my parent’s roof. Quite the adjustment, but God orchestrated it and that is another story. Eventually, this college got accredited and I changed my major to Elementary Education because, the missions major didn’t really give me a marketable skill. Still no boyfriend (I needed to find myself first…) (I am 20 at this point.)
I started hanging out with my friend Caleb, a lot more. We talked almost nightly on Instant Messenger on our desktop computers… yep, this all pre-Facebook and text messages were not really a thing yet either. So, aging myself just a little bit. He used to tell me about his latest interests in different ladies. I started falling for him. I would pray that God would just hit him on the head with a 2×4 to make him realize I was right there. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
I was attending the church he went to, he worked in youth group and they had a large college ministry that I attended.
Well, they combined college and youth to do a large relationship themed unit. The last night, we were given car keys (it was all analogies that related to vehicles)… the challenge was that so often we try to jump start or hotwire the wrong “car” (meaning relationship) and it will get us a few miles, but what if we hand the key over to God and let go and allow him to bring the car to us when it is time. WOW. That hit me HARD. We had a prayer and worship time, to get on our knees and hand it over to Him, then when we were done, take the key and place it in a jar up front. I got on my knees in the corner of that gym, and prayed and prayed and prayed. I was the last person, and I think it was about 45 minutes of pouring my heart out to the Lord. I cried; I surrendered. I took that key up and let it go. Let go of my desires, my plans, my wishes – completely open to where the Lord would take me and who He would bring into my life.
…….Four DAYS later, it “hit” Caleb and he liked me…… Four days, I lived carefree and was satisfied in who I was in Christ. I had to get to that point before I could allow a guy into my life.
We started dating (21 years old) – continued our education. I took 6 years to get my 4 year degree. But I also really took advantage of the Bible classes and took some Grad level classes with Caleb.
23 years old – got engaged and married. Started working at a call center, for a company I STILL work for 10 years later.
24 years old – finally finished that degree. Ready to face the world and teach kids! However, it was a recession and where we moved to Colorado, no one was hiring teachers without experience when there were plenty who had experience.
Still working for the same company.
Get my teacher license in Colorado. Oh and the youth pastor position my husband was SUPPOSED to have… didn’t work out, but my transfer did and we loved Colorado – so away we went!
After a year in Colorado, we pursued an opportunity that would allow me to teach high risk students that were slipping through the cracks in regular schools and my husband to be a pastor. Only for that to not work out despite our best efforts.
I am still working for the same company and not teaching.
We end up buying a house and getting pregnant after that failed experience. Not sure I was prepared to be a mom, but I am 27 so I should have if figured out, right? Young people do this all the time….
Continue to not teach and work for the same company…..
I finally give in and realize this company is amazing and this is just where I am. I let my teaching license that I held for 6 years expire….
NOW, I am no longer a licensed teacher. What the heck am I then? That had been my entire identity…. I know, I am a wife, mother and church member, cousin, friend. But how can I not be a teacher?
Another child comes along. Now I really need the benefits, pay and stability of this job – so still working at the same company.
I attended a Bible study – called “Best Yes.” They asked the question – if money and time were not an issue, what would you do for the Kingdom? I NEEDED that prompt. Here I was working a job I never imagined and not doing anything related to teaching. I am 30 years old and nowhere close to where I thought I would be. Instead of my husband being a youth pastor or pastor, he is a driving instructor. Instead of me teaching Kindergarten, I work in a tech support call center.
What would I do? Easy. Make curriculum for small churches to have a good resource that is affordable to teach kids the Word in a fun way that did not compromise the integrity of the Bible. That did not change the meaning of the Bible or fabricate it to sound better. So there is was born “Crayons and Bible Stories” – I have since then started posting lesson plans online on my website I have built. I don’t know if anyone is being blessed by it yet – if it is helping any churches… it is still in the baby stages. But I am working on it…… while still working for the same company….
I am 33 years old now. I used to be sooooo jealous of those who graduated and got a teaching job immediately. Or of those friends who are serving in full-time ministry. But the Lord has taught me much through the years. I am stronger, I am able to be a LIGHT (while working at this same company), and I am able to minister to the Elementary kids at my lil church, as their weekly teacher for first service. My husband and I have different ministry goals – which we have not even had a chance to pursue or barely start. But someday, we will be able to have the resources to attempt. We are basically in a holding pattern. But that is okay. God’s timing is always perfect.
I teach my kids and use my creativity to make things with them.
I use my talents in ways that may not be a career, but with the power of the internet, I can use my education and creativity to provide lessons to small churches looking for free resources they need online.
So, when I thought making plans in high school would go perfectly, I was way wrong. Life gets crazy! Life gets messy! Takes you down paths you never thought you would be on. At the age of 23 years old, you don’t have to have it all figured out. And what you do have figured out, may change. In fact, it WILL change.
Don’t stress about turning 23 years old. Getting older is a part of life, when you stop, you die. Embrace each year that comes and know that it has potential. As I have learned, it just gets better, but it can only get better if you allow it. Fighting it just makes you miserable.
That company I work for, I really like working there and after almost ten years, I am content with my job. If you would have told me 10 years ago I would not teach in a classroom and God would give me other ways to use my creativity and planning, I would have been discouraged and likely would have given up…..
But each stage comes when it comes. I got married at 23 and had a child at 27 and 30….. but your journey, sweet young lady, is going to be a different one. Your time table will be unique to you! There is not a right or wrong time for these to happen. Just know, that God sees that big picture – knowing you – He has BIG plans for you, but only if you embrace each day as it comes. I always pictured it like a puzzle. God sees the top of the box and as the time comes, he slowly gives us one piece at a time. The more pieces we get, the more we see how He is working on this big picture. But we have to trust Him with each piece. It is only as you get older do you start to see how He was putting all the pieces together to make the beautiful portrait of your life. Don’t rush things, young one. Don’t be discouraged. Getting older happens. Life throws you plot twists all the time. Your goals and aspirations may change. But seeking Him, giving your whole heart to Him, God will NEVER fail you! HE will grow you, stretch you, change your mind… but the more you seek Him, you will be satisfied, content, stronger, and that is a wonderful thing. “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8 Take refuge young woman, He has it alright. God has it!