Arnold and Jenny

Today is Jenny’s birthday – she has been alive for a whole 22 years. So today I figured I’d let her have a go at writing the blog post for once (don’t worry I’ll be back next week). She’s been around a while so I figured she had probably learnt enough to write a “lessons I’ve learnt” blog post by now… It was a challenge but she has managed to come up with 22 things!

Here are 22 lessons I’ve learnt in 22 years

1 – Listen to advice, but be wise enough to choose what advice you act upon

Lot’s of people will give you advice. Don’t be so stubborn that you refuse to listen to what older and wiser people have to say. But not all the advice you get will be good. Not all of it will be godly. Not all of it will be useful. Use discernment to recognise which is which.

2 – Your A-levels were essentially useless, but that doesn’t make them worthless

I didn’t go to university, the first jobs I got following college weren’t anything to do with the subjects I studied at college, nor did they particularly need A levels. Then, after those initial years, the job I’m in now is thanks to the experience and skills I gained in my previous jobs. Essentially, my A-levels have not helped me to achieve anything… However, that was certainly not time wasted. I still remember a fair bit of what I learnt, and I still remember the time management, the research skills, the friends, that I made during that time.

3 – People will look down on you for being young

When people find out my age for the first time, the first thing they insist on doing is calculating whether or not they are old enough to be my parent. It’s quite annoying, quite patronising. But if you are young in a workplace with older people, then there will be people who look down on you for your age. It’s a pain, but you just have to demonstrate that you deserve to be where you are.

4 – Prepare for marriage, not for a wedding

I loved my wedding day; it was one of my favourite days. But I am so glad that we did the marriage preparation course beforehand. I am certain that we have avoided so many arguments and problems because of the conversations we had whilst engaged through that course. I’ve written a whole blog post about the marriage prep course we did here.

5 – Church community is important

As difficult as it can be to build relationships at church, it is definitely important. When I look back at my big life events, it is the church community that I remember: their support, their love & how they were such a big part of these events.

6 – Making friends changes when you become an adult

Until the age of 18, my approach to making friends was to follow the people that I wanted to be friends with around until they accepted my presence and we became friends. This process doesn’t work so well as an adult. You aren’t in an environment where you are with the same people for so much of your time. Not everyone wants to make friends. Haven’t really worked out how making friends does work as an adult – will update you when I’ve got that one.

7 – Life is a balance of problems vs resources

I learnt this recently from a psychologist that happened to be speaking at a work event for musicians. She said that as problems are unavoidable (which the Bible tells us too), our lives need to ensure that we balance our problems with the resources that we need to be able to cope with the problems we are facing. So, if our problems are increasing, then we need to increase our resources.

8 – Be grateful for your Christian upbringing

As I’ve grown up, I’ve met more and more people who were not raised in a Christian home. People who aren’t used to going to church on Christmas Day, or who haven’t got church friends from when they were 3. Don’t take these experiences for granted.

9 – Gods ways are not your ways

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

This is a Bible verse that’s stuck with me for the last few years. It’s such a helpful thing to remember when you’re facing something that you do not understand. God is so much wiser and understands the world far more than we ever will. I find this so comforting!

10 – Just because they’re older than you, doesn’t mean they’re wiser than you

Growing up, we’re used to the idea that someone being older than us means that they are cleverer than us. I definitely used to think that when you turned 18, you suddenly just knew a whole bunch of things. For those in any doubt, I can assure you that this isn’t true. Sometimes you will know better, or more, about something than an older adult (just don’t start thinking you ALWAYS know best). I definitely still see people who take the word of an older adult as gospel, and things aren’t just that simple.  

11 – You are allowed an opinion

There are so many things where the world tries to tell you that you can’t have an opinion about. You can’t have an opinion about parenting unless you’re a parent yourself, you can’t have an opinion about abortion if you haven’t been pregnant, you can’t have an opinion about racism if you’re white. Just forget about all of these rules. Of course, you’re an allowed an opinion. Of course, experience can be important in forming an opinion, but it is not your only source (and never should be).

12 – Pray ceaselessly

The more I’ve tried to live out 1 Thessalonians 5:17, the more I have found this to be the perfect way to pray. Letting God into every part of your life is something you need to work on to allow it to become natural, but it makes prayer so simple and enjoyable – like chatting to a friend.

13 – Love is a choice

I’ve never been a lovey-dovey romantic, but I have learnt that love is a choice that I am making. It’s a decision I make on good days and bad days and it’s a choice I have to continue making.

14 – Someone is always in a worse place than you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be sad

This is more a lesson I’ve learnt through my friends putting down their issues because ‘someone else has it worse’. Of course, someone does have it worse, hundreds and thousands of people have it worse. But that’s not a reason to dismiss your own feelings, if it were none of us would ever be allowed to feel sad.

15 – Obedience is a good enough reason

It’s a hard lesson. Sometimes you just have to do somethings because you’ve been told to, whether that’s by a boss at work, or more importantly by God. Sometimes I go to church just because the Bible says I should – not because I’m going to enjoy it, not because I think I’m going to get something from it, just because that it’s what God has called me to do.

16 – Godly friends are the best friends

Friends that you can discuss your faith, questions and problems with are amazing friends. This is how we’re challenged, how we wrestle with our questions, how we understand different points of view whilst being constantly pointed back to God.

17 – Your friends don’t need to be the same age as you

I always used to think that the people I was making friends with needed to be my age, but I’m officially at a stage where none of my friends are my age. I have younger friends, I have older friends, and I have much older friends, and it’s really fun.

18 – Sometimes love doesn’t look how the world says it should

Let’s bust a myth – love is not about being someone’s biggest cheerleader no matter what they’ve done. Sometimes love is about calling someone out on their mistakes. Sometimes love is questioning someone’s motivations in order to help them. Sometimes love is saying no.

19 – Offer help and accept help

Being helpful is one of the kindest things you can do, no matter whether it’s accepted or not, it’s always a good idea to offer the help that you can bring. But it’s also kind to accept the gifts and help that other people want to offer to you too.

20 – Don’t be pulled into negative conversations

It’s SO easy to hear other people’s negativity and be pulled in. Whether it’s about problems at work, or with relationships, it’s always better for you and for others if you can choose to be different and separate yourself from those negative conversations – they never lead anywhere good.

21 – People are confusing

It’s pretty simple, people are just confusing. People do things that confuse me on a daily basis. I don’t think that will ever change.

22 – Do things differently

As Christians, there are so many things that we are called to do differently to the norm. But the more I have learnt about, and experienced, these things the more I have come to understand that doing things differently more often than not is a better way. Don’t let fear of not fitting in lead you down roads that don’t lead where you want to go.

What would your number one “lessons I’ve learnt” be?

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1 Comment

  1. A lovely collection of reflections. Happy Birthday Jenny.

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