My husband and I got married on May 22, 2011, when I was barely nineteen. I've learned some things since then, and I'm sure in several years I'll have thoughts about "What I Wish I Knew As a 24-Year-Old", but here are some reflections on things I've learned, of varying levels of importance.
Your husband will severely disappoint you in marriage. You will severely disappoint yourself in marriage. Stop expecting so much from either of you and look to Jesus.
Don’t underestimate the power of meaningful church membership. You don’t need a job in “ministry” to be useful to the church; simply being a part of a healthy church is hugely important. And if the whole church culture is committed to Jesus? You have no idea how amazing biblical community can be.
I have no idea who told you that you’re supposed to put used matchsticks in the kitchen disposal, but no. Just no. That will break it. Common sense, dear self.
It’s nice that you’ve been able to stay thin even though you're addicted to sugar and you never exercise, but that will not last. At some point, you will gain weight and people will notice. But, more importantly, it is so good to be healthy and strong. So strive for fitness now, whether your teenage physique needs it or not. Perseverance and discipline now will pay off not just in your physical strength but all areas of your life.
Some people can handle social media use, but you are not one of them, and that’s okay. I promise you will be so, so much happier when you quit Facebook and focus on real life. Trying to uphold a respectable internet version of yourself is going to harm who you really are.
You’re never going to “graduate” to a level of wisdom and greatness beyond love. Love is the best thing. Never give up on loving others. Never forget Christ’s love for you.
I know you think homemaking isn’t very important, but it’s like your base of operations. Prioritize creating a thriving home environment and it’s amazing how rich your life can be.
You’re entering a completely different life stage now. God doesn’t see you in categories, but people do, and most of your friends are either going to treat you differently or drop you completely. That’s okay. You're going to really hurt some people as well. Show them grace—you need others to show you grace—and seek friends who are outside your life stage. It’s healthy to have friends from all ages and situations. The aforementioned healthy local church is critical for this.
Prayer and scripture memory will never ever be a waste of time. Pursue Jesus hardcore and you’ll never once regret it.
Hospitality is the best way to show people Jesus. Open your home.
You should really buy food storage containers that have lids attached to them. It will make your life so much easier.
In a few months, someone is going to introduce you to this magical wonderland called Pinterest. It’s amazing, but just make sure you guard your heart from comparing yourself to others…and you should actually do stuff, not just pin it to your board and feel productive.
People you love are going to say incredibly hurtful things to you. They can't say anything about you that the gospel can't cancel out. Know Christ's love for you and devastating criticism won't be quite so devastating.
I know you think Romans 8 is awesome now, but it’s only going to become significantly more awesome. Never think you can move onto deeper truths than the gospel. From time to time, you’ll remember that Jesus loves you and you’ll be so pleasantly shocked.
Regularly read good blogs, and get a subscription to The Atlantic. Thoughtful articles have the power to change your life.
In a couple years your family income is going to increase dramatically. Don’t let it destroy you. Invite others into your life to keep you accountable. You might think you’re the last person who can fall prey to materialism and ego, but you are not. More money, more problems!
You finished pre-marital counseling, awesome. But pre-marital counseling has such limited capabilities because, well, you haven’t been married yet. Don’t be afraid of getting marriage counseling after you’ve been married.
This is a biggie: I know you haven’t thought too much about being a mom someday, but (spoiler alert) you’re about to have a bunch of kids really soon. Your daily life is going to look about 5% how you always envisioned it. But guess what! God’s plans are better, and eventually you’ll conclude that motherhood is extremely important…probably the most important job on the planet. So consider that role a world-changing privilege.
Humility's the goal. It doesn't matter if you're right or not: if you're not teachable, you're wrong.
Now that you’re a wife, the facts that “God is enough” and “you are the bride of Christ” are not suddenly irrelevant. Whether your dream has been fulfilled or not, God must be enough. Whether you have a husband or not, the Lord is your husband.
Finally, take a cue from Colossians 3: "And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony."
What do you wish you would've known when you were nineteen? Leave a comment below!
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 5, 3, 1, and not-yet-born. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today