A common phrase I have heard throughout our marriage is: “That’s just part of your 20′s.” I guess that is what I get for marrying an older man. A week from now I will be entering the last year of my 20′s and the last year he will be able to use that phrase. Funny thing is, when we first got married, it sounded like nails on a chalkboard to me. I would think, “I bet he thinks I am naive and immature, and I’m not! I need to prove myself to him!” With time, my self-sufficient nature has cooled and I have found freedom in the journey of my 20′s. Freedom to find myself, to not have all of the answers. Freedom to be in process and GROW. Freedom to be a mess because “that’s just part of my 20′s.” Or, lets just face it, its part of life. I guess I just learned to embrace it in my 20′s.
Last week I bought a print from my sweet friend Bobbi’s print shop that says, “Be You Bravely.” I am hanging it where I can clearly see it from where I sit in my studio. I want to be reminded daily of the work God has done throughout this last decade, patiently teaching me more and more of who I am, free from titles or expectations. Of course, I am still in process. The last thing I want to do is to see becoming 30 as any kind of finish line but this last year of my 20′s can be, in some ways like a big bow tied around this season of searching.
I was out for a walk with the friend the other night when I heard myself say, “I feel like I am just beginning to find my voice again. I am not quite there, I still feel myself holding back but I think I am getting there.” This happens a lot to verbal processors. We find ourselves saying something we haven’t necessarily thought about before, sometimes what comes out is almost laughable but a lot of the time it is true. When I left vocational ministry in my mid-20′s so much of my identity was tied up in being “in ministry.” The label and all that came with it kind of became a functional savior to me. I would never say that I was earning acceptance from God and others but I was. I threw myself into doing the good work and I became disconnected from myself and in a lot of ways the world around me.
When we left vocational ministry, moved across the country and started our lives as entrepreneurs. I found myself realizing my heart was so disconnected from the world I didn’t even know how to interact with people without seeing them as some “project” or mission. And maybe that is ok for some people, they can still be genuine in their mission but for me it was like my heart had disconnected from the person. My identity was so wrapped up in DOING ministry and in a way I had lost Jessi.This scared me. So I ran away from that way of life.
I still wanted to follow Jesus and I still wanted to see lives changed but I wanted to be able to do it in a more organic way. I think that part of that process was healthy. Part of it was my way of repenting and de-toxing from the way I had been living, but the other part wasn’t healthy. The running wasn’t healthy. The pendulum had swung too far in one direction and in fear I overcompensated, finding myself pretty far in the other direction. I wouldn’t say I went too far in the other direction, thanks to my older and wiser husband. But I would say I found myself far enough I had to work my way back to find Jessi again. To find the place where I stood in grace. The place where my identity was rooted in Christ and not swayed by my circumstances, or my roles.
The journey back to Jessi has been painful and beautiful. And I guess that is what your 20′s are suppose to be about. I really think there was so much wisdom in Joe’s words. He was trying to help me embrace the freedom that comes with finding yourself, learning about yourself and falling down along the way. He wanted me to see the value in putting on the blinders and muting the voices so I could clearly see myself and hear my voice.
I want this 29th year to be the exclamation point. Like the confidence that comes when you have found that place of grace. The confidence to be me, bravely.