Today marks the beginning of the final month of my twenties. As this milestone year approaches, I’ve sadly missed out on the bliss of my last year as a twenty-something because I already felt like I’d already begun my decent in life. It’s silly, and pretty stupid, actually. Too many people in their thirties and beyond told me that this is the start of the best years of my life. Dear Lord, I’m believing it to be so.
I looked back over the list of things I wanted to accomplish before I hit thirty. Of the 19 proclamations on my list, I managed accomplishing 2 of them…and the one I never thought would happen: getting married. After writing The Process, Not the End, I had to keep reminding myself that success is truly fleeting. My definition of personal achievement cannot be about how many countries I’d traveled to, how many songs I’d written, how many books I read in the days before “30.” I shouldn’t feel like I’ve failed my twenties. Life is only beginning.
Comparison is brutal. In my twenties I developed this, albeit negative, attribute of working for the approval of someone. I recognise it, try to fight it, possibly even tell myself that I’m really doing something because I wanted it. But in the end, my motives continue to be the same – who will acknowledge what I’ve accomplished? Will they think I’m more worthy of their love, respect or time because of what I’ve done? Will they finally notice me?
But I’m believing that my thirties will be the moment that I forget the futility of that kind of thinking. I am no soothsayer; each new day is a mystery. I’m simply an artist who spent too much time looking at the world for what it could affirm in me, rather than looking to its Creator, my Creator for that affirmation.
Paul writes to the Galatians:
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Jesus.
I want to read more literature not so I can be better prepared in conversation and sound like a know-it-all, but so I can participate in deepening my understanding of language. I want to travel the world, not so I can tell incredible stories of the people I meet, hoping one day NatGeo might use one of my pieces, but so I can join the global community, learning from and loving on people different from myself. I want to write another album not to make it anywhere on the charts, but because there is music in me that will rot if I never let it out.
I want to practice writing every day for the last month of my twenties, not because I think it’s going to be amazing, insightful, or change the world, but simply because I want to challenge myself. And if you’d like to go with me on this journey, the blogs will be here for you to read.
God wants us to love people, not live our lives to impress them. Each time I start something new, I want to ask myself, “who am I doing this for?” If the answer is not “because it makes me happy” or “because it will make God happy” then I need to reevaluate. Because if what I do is only for the approval of others, I’m serving them, and not my Saviour. If I do so to honour others, then I am honouring my Saviour by serving them. It is so important to keep those realities separate.
I know we will all struggle with this at one point or another. We’re only human. I just want to be confident in myself to do things because I want to do them, simply for the joy and happiness they bring me. I want my thirties to be the years where I live like other people’s love and affirmation is only a nice pat on the back and not the prize.
Do you have a problem with arranging your life around the approval of others? How have you won your own battles of being affirmed by the world, rather than God?
*I plan to write for the next 30 days on my final thoughts as a twenty-something. If you want to follow along, subscribe to this blog or follow me on Twitter @bridgetvogel