Twenty-something was Twenty-everything

This week I complete an incredible decade – my twenties.  People ask strange questions about turning thirty.  Are you nervous?  Are you sad?  Do you feel old?  Which seems funny when you think about the fact that one day you’re twenty-nine and the next you’re thirty.  So I thought before I officially usher in thirty I’d pay a little tribute to the twenties.

I should say I read a book a few years back called Twenty-something, Twenty-everything and my title is somewhat borrowed from that.  The twenties, well, they really have been everything.  They have been hard.  They have been rewarding.  They have been chaotic.  They have been full exploration.  They have held a million firsts.  They have included some hard goodbyes.  And oh my, how they have been full of growth.

At twenty-two I graduated college from Purdue University and made the equal parts brave and stupid decision to move to Florida, alone, with a very small amount of money in savings.  Graciously, my family and friends supported and encouraged me and I kind of awkwardly figured out adult life.  It was anything but pretty and it came with more than a handful of total meltdowns but I survived.

At twenty-four I got out of debt and then took on the biggest chunk of debt yet – I bought my first home.  This was my first big dream come true.  A place of my own.  A real home. And I hoped, the end of a lifetime of move after move.  When people call me now to ask my advice about buying a home I can’t help but laugh. I didn’t have a clue what I was getting into but I had the world’s greatest realtor and she was my saving grace (Nance – you are still the best and I am still eternally grateful).  It makes me a little weepy now to remember laying on an air-mattress in my otherwise empty house (it took a while to afford actual furniture for said house) talking to my Dad.  He said, ‘I wish I was there with you.  These are the best moments’.  Even though I love having a fully furnished home now (which was a several year task), I do love those memories.

At twenty-five I fell in love with travel.  I got a passport for the first time and now I’m finishing my twenties having been to six countries and countless states.  I hope it’s only the beginning of my love affair with new places and new people.  I helped build churches in Haiti and Antigua, a shelter in the Dominican, an aquaponics center in Togo and even worked in some travel ‘just for fun’.  I wandered New York City and Washington DC and I hiked in Salt Lake City with one of my best friends.  I took pictures by the St. Louis Arch and I went four-wheeling in the snow in small-town Indiana.  When I think of these adventures a part of a poem by Erin Hanson always comes to mind:

And you ask ‘What if I fall?’.  Oh but my darling, what if you fly?

The truth is I was totally overwhelmed before most of those trips.  Especially Haiti and Togo where I went without a ‘buddy’ (read: safety net) and I played a million what if’s in my head.  But like that poem I’ve thought to myself a million times – you have to take the chance of falling to fly.  I’d be lying if I said that my twenties were all flying experiences because there have been some falls.  Falls are the biggest heartbreak for me but I try my hardest to pep talk myself with another thing my Dad told me in my twenties ‘trying isn’t a failure, Bekes.  If it doesn’t work out, if it’s not what you want, if you end up doing something else – that’s ok’.  I’ve tried to remember this through career changes especially and have purposed to make the most of every opportunity however long or short.

My twenties made me an aunt, three times over.  This is the greatest gift of this decade.  My two beautiful nieces, Noa and Emett and my handsome, lively nephew Titus… man, they’re awesome.  Being an Aunt is my favorite role of my twenties and of my life so far.  Those three exciting moments when my sister told me she was pregnant and the three exciting text messages after their births – those were the best.

My twenties have given me more than a few ‘experiences of a lifetime’ like cheering for my Dad at two Super Bowls.  Parasailing with my Mom and sister in Cancun.  Giving my testimony in other countries by translator.  Planning All Pro Dad events, playing a small part in carrying on something my Dad helped dream up years ago.

My twenties gave me my two best friends who crazy enough, come from the same small town.  They have weathered the storms and celebrated the victories with me.  They have taught me so much about unconditional love.  And they have given me grace through a million mistakes.  Candy and Jared – I wouldn’t have made it without you.

This tribute to a great ten years wouldn’t be complete without telling you the best part.  From twenty to twenty-two I floundered in my faith.  It was a selfish, often purposeless season in my life and one I look back on with some sadness.  When I moved to Florida it was with determination to grow my faith and my relationship with the Lord and I have pursued that hard for 8 years since.  I plugged into my church where I have now been employed for two and a half years.  I read the bible over and over.  I fell back in love with my Savior and as Jennie Allen wrote in her book Anything. ‘She traded entitlement for surrender, and God took her up on it’.  I did, and He did.

I recently found a quote that perfectly sums up how I feel about my twenties and I’m sad to say I know only the initials of the person who wrote it.  It says, ‘I love the person that I’ve become because I fought to become her’ – K.D.  That’s what this decade has been about – fighting to become the person I want to be.  It has been a true battle.  It has been everything.  Hard, rewarding, character building, beautiful, exciting, and heartbreaking.  Twenty-something has been twenty-everything.  I expect nothing less from the thirties.

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