Officially 26

“No one is in control of your happiness but you; therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change.” ~Barbara de Angelis

Two years ago I wrote a post called “24 & Single.” The quote above was the same quote I used at the end of that post. It’s crazy how on point this quote has been for the past two years of my life. Change, happiness, and realizing I have the power to do all of that – yep, that pretty much sums em2 up. So yeah, I’m different. I grew up. I learned. I lost. I loved. I found myself. In so many ways I had to let go of the idea of “needing to be ______” and just decided to be. It’s a decision I think my generation somehow is so scared to make. The expectations for the mid-twenty generation is unending. And that for each of us, success just looks different. The fact is, as I read in a blog, that 26 is “No ones end, and no ones beginning.” We are not starting from scratch, but yet we have not passed the finish line. We still are, honestly, just trying to figure this thing called life out.

So, to start of my 26th year of life – and to commemorate the passing of an age – I have come up with a few things that I want to speak into this year. A mixture of lessons learned (that hopefully you can take as little tokens of wisdom for the future), and then a mixture of just words of encouragement for my future self.

The hard stuff hurts, so let it hurt

Life is hard. Things come we can’t control, but what I’ve learned – the times I have taken time to grieve the loss, hurt, or tragedy is when God comforts to heal and fully raise me back to a place of healthy healing – and healthy loss. It’ s process that I am thankful to have learned early on – for now I know, when the hurt does come – I can just let it hurt.

You’ll want to give up on the things that really are good

Satan always wants to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) He wants to take the good away right at the beginning. He tries so hard to negate what ‘might be good’ by telling you how you can’t  or won’t accomplish what is before you. Don’t listen – don’t give up. God has you and is for you – and no weapon formed against you will prosper.

Everyone in your life today, won’t always be there tomorrow – so love well

This one is probably one of the most important lessons that I continue to learn each and everyday. I am more and more grateful for the people in my life today than ever. But at age 26 I have realized, days that are today will not look like days tomorrow. A year ago the people I stood around are now dating, married, and even some having kids. Life continues to change and the people of today, even you, will look different tomorrow – so love them all well. Don’t worry about when it will all change, but yet don’t be naive to think that it won’t.

What people think about you matters little-to-none, to what you think about yourself

A lesson I am still learning. I could spend days writing down all the times I thought someone thought something about me, when in fact, they weren’t thinking of me at all. Fear of man and what they think will debilitate you. It will keep you from your tomorrow as you are so focused on how others see you today. How do you see yourself? Do you love yourself? Do you want to change something? Do it. Live today with your tomorrow in mind – but not with others in mind.

Money matters

Tithe. Save. And Repeat. More and more I am convinced of the importance of how I handle my money. I have failed at this countless times and most of my life I have held those things against me – but over the past few weeks my Savior has sweetly, gently – but yet promptly, pushed me into the face of reality that I am not who I was. I’m different, so acting and thinking in who I am now matters way more than how I did it “back then.”

Learn to trust again

26 years of life can lead you to see things, hear things, and live out things that you would like to either rewind and change, or honestly, never have lived through at all. But that’s not reality. People will let you down, they will hurt you, and you will hurt them. You have to learn to forgive, and though you may not forget, you can’t hold it hostage in your heart and then, hold it against every other person who comes after them. You have to learn to let that go. Then you have to learn to trust. They are two in one. Opening your heart with the realization that the God of the universe has you, and though people might fail, He never does.

Love isn’t just for other people

It took me awhile to learn this. To fully believe that I deserved the love, sacrifice, joy, and hope of a man truly fighting to love me. A man willing to entrust his heart, legacy, well-being, dreams, hopes, and future all to…me. It was a process of believing I was worth that, it took laying down what I thought – and picking up and soaking in what Jesus thinks. It was and still is a process of believing in the words that I wanted and spoke over everyone else – Jesus also wants for me. So now, I can’t wait for that love. I don’t know when, or how, or what all of that will look like – but what I do know, is that it’s not just for everyone else. It’s for me too. And whenever it does come – I will be thankful for the lesson of love before, so that I can enjoy the actuality of it then.

It’s okay to be

You don’t have to always go. You don’t have to perform, encourage, and do all the time. It’s okay to just be. 

Jesus really is enough

This year I have been unemployed twice, walked through my mothers’ breast cancer, friends who have lost family members, church changes, and the continued, always prevalent, dynamics of getting older. And through it all God continues to ask me the same question, “Am I enough?” And though each time He asks with a certain area of my heart in mind, if I don’t say it immediately, He shows me eventually that He is very much so, enough.

“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Fight your way to contentment

In our world, to be content is to be lazy. To be content is to be less than. But in Jesus eyes, it’s not. Contentment is something to be admired. We all move so fast that we miss the beauty of the day-to-day. The simplicity of just living in the moment – learning to love the people around us well, before they change. Learning to be who we are today, so we can accomplish who we need to be tomorrow. Being content is a form of emotional strength and character – realizing that who you are is not dependent on what you do, have, or know.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6


Wake up everyday expecting to be changed or to change something or someone

This year will be remembered as one that will hold the place of some of the most pivotal changes in my life. I know it. Things on the horizon that I see from a distance, but the how, when, and what of the situation are still in the fog. For a purpose. They remain unknown physically, but yet still they remain very known of spiritually. My prayer for this year is wake up everyday – EXPECTING. Expecting to learn something new, expecting to become a better woman of God, expecting that I have the ability to help alter someones future by praying healing, hope, or freedom over their lives – or even as simple as gaining perspective with them over a cup of coffee on my couch. Life is so short – so my intention is to wake up expecting to see every part of life while it’s still here.

In conclusion, this birthday has hit me harder, with more emotions and thoughts in mind, than any previous year of life. I don’t know why, but I am thankful for it. It has caused me to consiously think and prepare my heart for what is ahead. Though I don’t know exactly what is ahead, I do know that the lessons I’ve learned before are now the foundation to which God will continue to build my life in the year (and years) to come.

May God bless you and keep you, and whatever age you are – live, love, and be it well.

So yes, I’m officially 26. Let’s do this thing.




2 thoughts on “Officially 26

  1. Beautifully written, Jess!! I love what you wrote about waking up everyday expecting…isn’t that what we all should do to fully live as who God created us to be?! Such a great reminder! Praying for you as you enter your 26th year of life!

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