Saturday, April 14, 2012

10 Lessons I've Learned In My Twenties

1. Community college is for everyone

Yes it is. Even you Lauren Michele. Even you dear reader. For high school I went to a private prep school. All four years I was told that I could go the four year college of my dreams, land a fabulous career upon graduation and use it to pay off any college debt. After having this ingrained in my naive brain I honestly believed that community college was for poor people. I had known people that talked about being at community college for five years, and what were they pursuing? A two year degree. I decided that this could not happen to me (because it must be horrible to actually take your time learning and pay for the classes as you can afford them...), and I only applied to four year colleges. In my snobbery and young mindset I attended a private school my first two years where tuition was over $700.00/unit. When my parents told me that they would not be paying for school and I was on my own (YIKES!) I knew I had to explore my options. At this point it was too late to take any general ed. from a community college (where tuition was only $26.00/unit) because I had completed my G.E. at the private school. I transferred to a university online where I was able to complete my degree and also meet my favorite academic counselor Dominique, who informed me that I could finish some elective classes at a community college and then transfer in the units. After taking out thousands of dollars in loans to pay for college community college was a great option (I guess it is for poor me!) and I was able to pay for the classes out of pocket. Now I try to brainwash encourage my high school students to give community college (and their bank accounts) a chance.

2. I don't know everything
I know after reading that you are deeply shocked and hardly have the will to continue reading, but it's true. I remember being exactly 20 when I had my first real boyfriend. I didn't ask my parents for any input because I didn't need it. I knew he was the one and I knew exactly what I was doing (At 20. With no previous experience and no wisdom...yep....). I pridefully informed my parents that they could give me their input, but I didn't have to consider it since I was an adult (ummm...yeah...Side Note: If you're saying things like this, you are not an adult, it comes with maturity not with age). Needless to say my parents were right. They didn't want us dating. We were both too immature at that point and had much growing up to do mentally and spiritually. Did I ever listen to my parents? Ummmm no. Did I end up with my happily ever after? No. He's married (not to me) and I'm a single college grad living with mum and dad. And that's okay. I learned to submit to my parents (who are the authorities that God has placed in my life). I learned to honor my parents. I learned that I don't know everything, and I learned that God does. Ultimately His will (not mine) is best.

3. God is sovereign

"Ummmm God remember me? Your daughter? HELLO! Down here!!! Pay attention to me! Here's what I want and when I want it and how I want it....Oh...." Yeah, being single at 23, living at home and paying off student loans was never a part of my fairy tale grown up life. There have been times of disappointment and desperation in which I've whined to God. I've learned that the Father knows best. I can't tell you how many times I've been denied opportunities that I thought were best for me only to be granted better ones that God provided for me. If you love God, repent of your sins and trust in Him, you are His child. He died for you. He loves you. He is faithful!!

4. You are more selfish than you think

I hope I'm just talking to myself here (oops...being selfish....), but one thing that I have really learned is that I don't truly understand or recognize the extent of my selfishness. Toward God, family, friends, co-workers and clients. I often want to do what I want to do when I feel like doing it. I have learned that the words of Philippians 2:3-5 are a standard for how I should be living everyday. These verses tell us: "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus," (ESV). I have learned that everyday there are multiple opportunities for me to die to self and I hope my life is not wasted by missing them.

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5. Give yourself grace.
I am my biggest critic. I always look for what I can improve instead of appreciating how far I've come. I know that God's grace has been poured out for me in Christ's sacrifice on the cross. I always thought this meant that I need to give grace to others, and it does. But, it's not the whole picture. I need to recognize that while I follow Christ I am still a sinner and I need His grace every second. Living a lifestyle of grace is more freeing that you'd ever imagine. 

6. Coupons are cool

There. I said it. You may be thinking, "What next?? Mom jeans? Socks with sandals?" But have no fear. I am still in my twenties after all. Taking a class on how to use coupons was one of the smartest things I've ever done. I've learned how to get my groceries for pennies on the dollar and spend money on a budget. Knowing how to use coupons is also helpful for those I-really-don't-care-'cause-it's-Friday quick trips. 

Exhibit A: Junior Mints and Pretzel m-m's, originally $1.67 each were on sale at CVS for $1.50 each.  The Kettle Corn was  $2.37. I used the CVS Magic Coupon Machine and experienced the magic. I received a $1.00 Extra Care Buck (which is like a CVS gift card) and a 30% off entire purchase coupon. My total without coupons and sale prices: $5.71 . My total with coupons and sale prices: $3.71. Like a boss. P.S. Eating the items pictured may  will result in feeling fat and crummy...yet another lesson learned.

6. Take care of your temple. 

For me this meant a change in my eating habits. We've all heard about being thirty, flirty and thriving but in my twenties I discovered Fab Fit Fun and Amanda Russell. I understand that in your twenties, you may not have tons of money, but these resources provide ways to learn about health and exercise and they don't cost you a penny. 

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7.  To forgive is to forget

If Jesus forgave me for everything I've ever done and will do against him, myself and others, how much more should I be forgiving others? I've heard that I have to forgive, but I don't have to forget. That was from a human perspective, but listen to God's: "For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more," Hebrews 8:12 (ESV). I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that when God says He will remember our sins no more, He is forgetting about them. This isn't a dumb, clueless "Oh I just forgot..." type of deal. It is an act of the will that takes patience, humility and grace. Rather than holding another individual's wrongs toward you against them, it is choosing to overlook the hurt and offense knowing that your sin against God is more ugly, hurtful and painful than their sin toward you. Proverbs 19:11 states, "Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense," (ESV).

8. Save money

Since I am a school secretary, I only work about 10 months of the year. That means two whole months without pay. I have never not worked before, but because this is a tough economy it isn't so easy to find a job. In order to brace myself for the worst case scenario, I've been putting aside cash each month just in case I don't have work over the summer. I've also opened up a Smarty Pig account, which I highly recommend doing. I like Smarty Pig because it's easy to access my account (in the words of today's teenagers, "There's an app for that."), it's separate from my other accounts, and there's a 0.70 APY rate which is higher than what my bank currently offers. Smarty Pig is basically the electronic version of a physical piggy bank. 

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9. Be grateful.

Speaking from experience, it is very easy to become bitter when life does not turn out the way you planned. At 23 I was hoping to be moved out of mom and dad's house, married and doing ministry with my husband. That was my Happily Ever After. Reality isn't as glorious. I have learned that I love my home. I have learned to have an appreciation and deep love for my family because even though I do want to be out on my own, I know that once I am out on my own I will miss them terribly. I have learned to be grateful for my job, even when my clients make me cuckoo. Because at the end of the day I am able to buy food for myself, put gas in my tank, pay all my bills and even save a little. I have friends and family who long for a job and the opportunities the come with it. I know that not everyone is blessed to be able to live in a house and  own a car and an iPad 2 and go to an amazing Bible preaching church . . .  Sometimes I wonder why God allowed me to be in this position in life. I know part of it is so I can help others who aren't as fortunate and part of it is for helping cultivate a heart of gratitude toward Him. 

10. Know who you are in Christ

This is probably the biggest lesson I've learned in my twenties. At work I've had people get angry at me, unjustly accuse me and be rude to me. I've been hurt by family and friends. I left a church with a broken heart. Knowing who I am in Christ has allowed me to work through trials knowing that whatever I "suffer" through now is not even worthy of being compared to the glory I will experience in eternity with Him. Knowing who I am in Christ has allowed me to let go of worry and turn to Him in prayer. He is my Father. He loves me. He is for me. And knowing this I have learned that my identity in Christ is more precious and more beautiful than any of the standards that the world has for me and for twentysomethings everywhere. 

Wall Art - Identity in Christ (purple, blue, green, or rust with white text) Ephesians 1:11-12 - 8 x 10 Print
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What have you learned or are looking forward to learning in your twenties?


This post is a response to What No One Told Me About My 20's by Julianna Morlet


Mr. Londot said...

Precious Lauren,

You truly are a gift from God. Your depth of wisdom is seldom seen in a person as young as you. Today's world view is very anti-God. In education, I am faced daily with struggling kids in broken homes. I have homeless students, abused children and parents that do not know how to parent.

I know God has a purpose for your life. Continue to praise and worship Him and you will always be successful and rich in Christ's love and wisdom. I am very proud of you.

Love, uncle Greg

Lauren Londot said...

Ahhhh I have students with the same issues. It's so devastating, but it definitely provides much opportunity for me to rely on Christ in prayer for my kids :) It also helps me to be un-selfish in how I serve my students, knowing that God has placed me in their lives for a reason (even when they are driving me crazy). Thanks so much for the encouragement! It's nice to know that I have family reading this little blog and supporting me :) Love you too!

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