Image by Thomas Allsop
Image by Thomas Allsop

"Why"

Like every other twenty-something, I am trying to navigate young adulthood. I've come to realize that your twenties is a decade of learning and growing. You don't just skip to the "good parts" over night. They take God doing the work in you and setting the stage for those things. Reaping requires sowing. Like with sanctification, the lifelong process of becoming more Christ-like, often through trials, you have two choices: take the easy way out and stay in your comfort zone or do the hard things and choose to grow through it. We twenty-somethings are constantly changing, which could be a good thing or bad thing, depending on which choices we make.


Despite what your feelings may tell you, you are not alone in trying to grow and figure things out. In His Word, God promises us multiple times He is with us. One of my personal favorite verses is Isaiah 41:10 (ESV): "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."


In Mere Christianity, CS Lewis discusses how God completely works in us, pushing us past where we are comfortable. Our comfort levels often involves staying in what is easy, often in some type of sin. CS Lewis wrote: "We may be content to remain what we call 'ordinary people': but He is determined to carry out a quite different plan. To shrink back from that plan is not humility: it is laziness and cowardice. To submit to it is not conceit or megalomania; it is obedience."

Change is scary and hard. It's far easier to just run away from anything that is going to force you to step up and to take the hard route, face yourself, and be better. We often stay where we are out of fear. However, when we live in fear, we often become what we didn't want to be in the first place. Isn't it worse to just remain as you are and to miss out on all the great things that can come out of just stepping up? Don't you get tired of living in sin? There's risk in staying the same as well as stepping out. CS Lewis continues: "Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be a very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us."


Your twenties and even thirties come with new roles and responsibilities, and they require you to grow up. Growing up takes hard work and more importantly, consistency. It is far from easy, and thank God we have Him to help us through the learning curves and during the days we want to give up trying to doing the work. Thankfully, He doesn't give up on us, even when we want to give up on ourselves and the work we've done so far. CS Lewis noted: "Each time you fall He will pick you up again. And He knows perfectly well that your own efforts are never going to bring you anywhere near perfection."


Doing the work means showing up no matter what, and making the hard choices. It is raw, honest, and vulnerable. These new roles and responsibilities can be very motivating in staying consistent during taking intentional time to work on yourself. They are what I would call "whys." Self-awareness is a large aspect of growing up. Ask yourself: Why do I want to show up and stick with the work? The following are some examples of "whys."


1. To Glorify God

As Christians, our first and foremost reason should be to glorify God. The Christian walk is all about becoming more Christ-like and bearing fruit instead of walking in the flesh. 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we are ambassadors of Christ, representing Him on Earth. When unbelievers look at us, they should see Christ in us, not us fitting in with the world. The worst thing is an unbeliever looking at us and not wanting to be a Christian and/or getting a wrong impression of Christ. Our lives should be a walking testament to Christ.

CS Lewis perfectly sums up God's relationship to our sanctification: "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing there, putting on extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."

2. For Your (Future) Spouse

Here's a hard truth: you cannot be in a relationship carrying extra baggage and fear in. It's just not fair to the other person and even to yourself. Relationships are very vulnerable and require you to be unselfish, always thinking of the other person. The pain and fear you're still carrying and haven't worked through is going to affect the way you love and receive love. I'm not married yet, but from what I have learned from books and people I've spoken to, marriage takes work, especially when you throw in trials, finances, children, etc. As much work marriage takes is how equally of a blessing it is. That is your person. You get a best friend that you get to walk together in your walks with the Lord, to raise children that are half you-half them with, to sing in the car with, to spend your best days with, and to face your worst days with. Elisabeth Elliot made the point that when you get married, you are a sinner marrying another sinner. There's no other way. Therefore, if you can intentionally take time before you enter into a relationship to work on yourself and through your past and any sin present in your life, you're setting yourself up to have a healthier relationship. One day, God is going to bring someone into your life who is going to call you to step up and grow as a person and is fgoing to love you completely and unselfishly. You're going to want to be present and show up for that person, to love them back wholly, and to grow with them. Just like we should as people, our relationships should always be growing.


3. For Your (Future) Children

When you become a parent, it really requires you to be grow up. Your life is no longer about you. You have to be unselfish in the decisions you make. You're making decisions for and caring for little, innocent people who are completely depending on you. It's your job to keep them safe and physically and emotionally healthy. It's not a job to be taken lightly. I mean, you're literally raising someone God gave to you to care for, and who is going to impact the Kingdom. Your job is 24/7 for the rest of your life because you never stop being a parent, even when you're super tired, stressed, or sick. When I'm a mom one day, I want to be able to do even better than my mom did raising me, which is an extremely high bar set. Each generation should feel that way. Since I have become an adult, my future children have been in forefront of my mind. They are not even born, but have affected every single decision I have made thus far. When choosing a potential husband, one of the top qualities I am looking for is a man who will be an incredible, godly father, who will give all he can to his family. When I'm brain fried from school, I keep going and studying. I want to be able to pay off my law school debt, so that my money can go towards making sure my children have the very best. When I am tired in the morning, I still work out and try to eat well, partially because I want to form habits to be the healthiest I can when I do carry my babies for nine months, and to have the energy to keep up with them as toddlers and children, lol. Essentially, I want to be a person they will be proud to have as a mom.


4. For Your Family and Friends

Working on yourself will affect the way we deal with our family and friends. Just like our romantic relationships, we operate all our other relationships out of what we've gone through. If we are able to work through that fear and past hurt, it will increase our ability to commuicate clearly; to set and follow healthy boundaries; to have grace, compassion, and patience for others; and to show up more and be present in those relationships. Besides working toward future roles, we can always be improving in our current ones. This also means cutting out the toxic relationships that lead us towards sin and that weigh us down, and exchanging them for cultivating our healthy relationships.


5. For Your Work

There's two ways we can show up for the sake of our work. First, in our present work, and second, toward our goals and where we want to be. You don't have to be a ministry-based job to honor God with your work. You don't even have to have a job to honor God with your work.


Colossians 3:17 (ESV) says: "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Whether you are folding laundry, raising children, driving an Uber, or performing surgery, you can do it all for the glory of God. My best friend told me that on her hard days, she remembers that God intentionally put her where she presently is, which means He'll see her through. God has you where He needs you in this present moment. There's things He needs you to do, big and small, and lives to touch within those capacities. He will sanctify us and help us in being who He needs us to be to fill those roles.


Be honest with yourself. Is who you are currently connecting with who you want to be? It's one thing to set goals and have a plan to end up in the place you want to end up, but it is another to actually execute that plan, and take the steps to show up as that person who would live out that life you want. Looking past the fact that those plans may be changed by God, say we are to end up at the destination we aim for, that requires being a certain person to take on that role. This is something that even applies to being a parent or spouse. We can easily talk the talk and have the knowledge, but are we actually walking the walk and applying the knowledge?



Conclusion

Our twenties are often, as Taylor Swift put it in her song "22," "happy, free, confusing, and lonely at the same time." However, our twenties are also a blank slate. A mantra of mine lately has been: live in the present and make decisions for the future. In some type of capacity, every day, you're making decisions that will affect your future life. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can remember that God is intentional and will turn it to good. Also, you are in charge of how you react and what you do. Make the connection between the person you speak to be and actually walk in it.


You cannot live behind excuses forever, for they grow old as we do. Thus, if you're looking for a place to start working on yourself, start with what you make excuses for. Then, the excuse is gone. You can also start with what you turn to for safety and comfort instead of God. This can be food, social media, etc. These things are actually idols. When God is not first in our life, it is often a reason why our life is out of order.


Use your "whys" to hold you accountable, and if that's not enough, then use God and the people around you to hold you accountable. One thing I've learned is that God will always send you the people you need for a present moment. They may not be in our lives forever, but they are purposed for the present. Don't be afraid to turn to these people because we really cannot walk alone. Working on yourself is not going to be perfect, but what's important is that you keep going.


If you want more on CS Lewis on sanctification, check out the latest book club video: https://youtu.be/PxA9u6b7mOw


By: Bible and Hot Cocoa (IG: @bibleandhotcocoa, Twitter: @biblehotcocoa)

Jules is the founder of Bible and Hot Cocoa. She is a law student with a passion for standing up for truth. In any free time, she loves to read, study theology, write, and draw or paint. Jules's favorite book of the Bible would have to be a tie among John, Psalms, Ephesians, and Romans (as of now), and her favorite figure besides Jesus is John, David, or Paul.

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