It's officially May! This historically has meant Birthday Month!
This year I am turning 27 years old and I've been thinking, what if I knew what I know now, back when I was 22, half a decade ago.
Perhaps I should take cues from the lovely Miss Taylor Swift:
'We're happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time. It's miserable and magical.'
Or perhaps not.
At the age of 22 I was graduating from university with two degrees and heading into the reality of full time work, catching early morning trains into Sydney's CBD and joining the rat race. I made new friends and soon found myself socialising and working my way up the corporate ladder.
In the last five years I have travelled, navigated heartache, experienced the joys of nephews and nieces, given up work to take on Bible College, come back into the workforce and found myself prioritising the big F's of life: Faith, Family, Finance, Fitness and Future!
Above all of this, I have chosen to let my heart ponder this passage in 2 Corinthians chapter 4, verses 16-18, and I have let these words drive much of what I wish I knew back when I was 22:
'Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.'
What would I tell my 22 year old self?
1. Don't plan every inch of your life.
Life will inevitably throw you a curve ball or two, and yet these may just be the moments you'll cherish forever. They will form your character, your tenacity and resilience.
Just as it says in Proverbs chapter 16, verse 9: 'In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.'
2. Choose your friends wisely.
One my youth pastors used say, 'Show me your five closest friends and I will show where you will be in five years' time.' Our environment matters, from family to friendships to workplace to even lifestyle. The people you choose to have around you should be those who challenge, inspire, encourage and lift you up.
When I was in university, and as a new graduate, I often compared myself—or tried to be friends—with girls who I know now were not the best choices. When friends let me down, I found I could easily escape and retreat from all relationships at all. This constant opposite from the wrong friendships to no friendships never ended well.
Just as it says in Proverbs chapter 27, verse 17: 'As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another' and in Ecclesiastes chapter 4, verses 9-10: 'Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.'
3. Love wholeheartedly.
Love is a word thrown around at all costs, from the love of food to the raw love of a mother and her newborn. When Googled, 'love' brings back over 3270000 results in a matter of a second. I am sure if I interviewed 30 people each would give a different definition of what love is to them and what they picture when I say love.
But what does God say about Love?
In 1 Corinthians chapter 13, one of the most read passages of at weddings, puts it like this:
'If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal ... Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.'
Yikes. This kind of love is not something that I can honestly say I feel 100% of time, even to my closest and dearest. This kind of love is like something out of this world... because it is.
This kind of love defined is what God doesn't just encourage, but says is indispensable.
How then do we actually love like this and not let hurt, annoyances or life harden our hearts towards people?
At 22 years old, I know I was not the person I am today (not that right now is perfect!) but I know that back then I was learning (and still am) to love.
To love God, love people and, well, love myself.
Meenal Chandra is a Sydney based writer who intends to make the 27th year of her life, the best one yet!
Meenal Chandra's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/meenal-chandra.html