Things I learned in my Twenties: Reflections on 23

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Yesterday I turned 24. I was trying to reflect on the year, specifically what I have learned, and I have to say I’ve learned a lot. I thought that after my first year of marriage, I knew all there was to know about sacrificial love. I stand corrected. After a year of parenthood, I REALLY feel like I know every thing about love and sacrifice. I know I will “stand corrected” on this topic for the rest of my life, probably until I die and witness the mystery of Love, Himself when I make my way through those pearly white gates. But I digress….

Instead of expanding on how much I don’t know, let me tell you what I do know. Love is hard. Some times is requires you to get up at 3 am, other times is requires you to listen to screaming that feels like it is going directly into your ear drum, as you hopelessly make efforts to soothe. Aside from suffering, it also takes humility. Love asks you to admit when you don’t know what you’re doing. Some times Love requires you to admit when you know exactly what you’re doing, because its the wrong thing, and you need correction. Some times you are the one lovingly suggesting a correction…

Love has many forms, but this year I have mostly seen it take on the form of parent and child. I would argue this is Love’s original form. Adam and the Father of Adam, God and the Son of God, the one correcting and the one being corrected, the one consoling and the one who needs consoling. I thought that by default, I’d always have the “parent role,” false. Many times I have the child role. My impulsive shopping needs correcting. My weary soul needs consolation…

What I’ve also learned is that neither role is particularly easy. The parent role requires stamina and patience while the child role requires humility and acceptance. Basically, there is no easy way to love. It drains you, it exercises parts of your soul that you’d probably prefer remained dormant. For many of us though, the childlikeness is particularly difficult. Afterall, we spend more of our lifetime as adults than we do as children and yet, the call to have a childlike spirit is unending however unnatural it may feel to us. The year of being 23 reinforced that for me. Even though I was a parent, I was not allowed to stop being a child, a child of God. When I am confronted, I must be honest. When I am scared, I must trust. When I need help, I must be humble. When I need to work on my flaws, I must be obedient. These are all virtues we expect of children and rarely apply them to ourselves.

If there is one way I can certainly teach my children these virtues, it is by example. That is what I learned in my 23rd year of life. I will head into year 24 with maturity, but also with the heart of a child.

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