What I wish I knew when I was 27.

A few wise fellow travelers were recently asked by Relevant Magazine what they wish they had known when they were 27. I know the folks over at Relevant will not be knocking on my door anytime soon, but I thought their question was intriguing and I wanted to answer it anyway. So here are a few things I wish I had known at 27….

I wish I had known that numbers aren’t everything, be they LED lights on the scale, the size of the audience reading my words, the tag in my jeans, or fellow souls commenting on my Facebook drivel. Those numbers matter so little and say absolutely nothing about my character or my wee impact on the world. Absolutely nothing.

I wish I had known that the dishes don’t always need to be done. It’s okay to leave them in the sink sometimes. It’s perfectly wonderful to leave the crumbs and the cooking aftermath and revel in what was created in the kitchen (and the people gathered to enjoy it) instead of lamenting the dishes.

I wish I had known that I didn’t know everything then. Or now, for that matter. I wish I had paid more attention to the wise tidbits of those who had gone before me. They knew a lot, my older tribe. They still do.

I wish I had known that stock judgments are unedifying and in contrast to the teachings of this God I seek to serve. I judged so quickly and so harshly at times. I still believe some things are dead right and some things are dead wrong, and I hold some deep-seated, tried and true beliefs about some things from which I cannot be swayed. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that I am not the standard and that’s a good good thing.

I wish I had known that the leadings of the Lord and the enemy are remarkably similar to the less discerning ear. I wish I had remembered that the Lord moves through conviction, and the enemy moves through condemnation. I often mistook the latter for the former. I wish I had questioned things more and not swallowed untruths whole.

I wish I had known that listening is a truly incredible privilege. Vulnerability from another traveler is a gift to be treasured and everyone’s story is worthy of being heard. No conversation needs to be bathed in interruptions and loud voices and mockery and attempts at outdoing another. Not one.

I wish I had known that self-esteem is a farce and not a force to reckoned with. I thought about myself too often. I shouldn’t have thought about myself at all and simply focused on the mission of my heart: to give voice to voiceless women and wreck all the untruths and teach girls how to quit being sorry for their lives. I wish I had just thought about other people and how to give instead of worrying so crazy much about how I felt about myself and my role in the world. It’s so much easier to serve and love when we aren’t concentrating on or holding too tightly to ourselves. Settling down in one’s soul and embracing the humanity of the other souls relieves the need for self-esteem.

While I wish I had known these things, I’m thankful I did not know then that life was going to get really, really hard. I’m thankful I had never imagined how my heart was going to get shattered again. I’m thankful I had the chance to live a sorrow- and obstacle-laden journey so that I would learn to better appreciate all the joy. I’m thankful that there are so many things I don’t know yet at 33. Amen.