The twenties can be an amazing time in your life. You get to taste the liberty of living on your own for the first time. You’re no longer a minor at age twenty-one. You can rent a car at twenty-five. You get to take your first steps in your career path. What’s there not to like?
Well, here’s a bit of reality that’s going to hit you in the face like a dodge ball at recess when you’re not paying attention. Maybe that’s a bit strong. Probably not. Life can be rough. Let me introduce you to some reality checks that prey on people in their twenties:
1. The World Doesn’t Revolve Around You Anymore
You have been more pampered throughout your life than you realize. Even if you had what might be considered stern parents, you’ve still had a lot of assistance in your life. It’s likely you’ve had a parent help you choose a college, discern an academic major, pay for tuition, apply for loans, and even walk you through class registration.
Guess what? Those days are soon going to be over. As my mom sometimes says, “Buckle up, buttercup!”
The notion that people are waiting to help you figure things out is going to get smashed like your piggy bank when you’re looking for spare change to fund your late night McDonald’s run. You’re going to learn, some of you the hard way, that the world isn’t waiting to serve you. Oh, and by the way, the world never really did revolve around you to begin with. You probably knew that. If not, you’re about to.
2. Credit Cards are Fun. And Expensive. Just Like Life.
You know the way you like to get paid back when you lend someone a few bucks? Yeah, that’s how the government feels about all the money they gave you to go to college. They’re so interested in you paying them back that they charge something called interest. Interesting, isn’t it?
Debt is a big deal. It will suck the life out of your, well, life. Be really cautious about debt. Don’t live under the constant financial pressures of Uncle Sam and/or Capital One. Strategically pay your debt down. Spend your twenties living lean, working hard, minimizing debt, building savings, and nurturing a giving spirit. Debt will debilitate you from a generous future.
3. I Thought I Was Past That!
Your twenty-something version of yourself has a surprising resemblance to your teen self, doesn’t it? That will be true of your thirty-something self too. The older you get the more you will realize that wherever you go in life, there you are.
Time doesn’t automatically correct your character. If you want to grow you are going to have to be intentional about it. What you struggle with now, unchecked and unresolved, will be the same thing you struggle with in your next decade of life.
Your best bet is to be in a good Christian community, to be specific, a Bible believing church, that will help you apply the gospel to your life. Progress won’t happen by accident and it rarely happens in isolation. Plug into a church and start becoming who God created you to be.
4. Life Doesn’t Give You Mulligans
Friends who play golf tell me that a mulligan is a do-over. You get those in golf. You don’t get Mulligans in adulthood. That is, unless you’re playing golf in adulthood. Never mind, you get my point.
We aren’t well prepared for this. Our teachers gave us make up tests before we took the real tests and then they gave us do over tests, and then they gave us extra credit. Life is about to rip that safety rug right out from under your feat.
This isn’t to say there is no forgiveness in adulthood. There is. You will need it. But your twenty-something, adult decisions are going to carry more weight and have more of a lasting impact than you are accustomed to.
The beauty of the gospel is that God does give second chances (and third, and fourth, and so on). But your decisions are going to progressively carry more weight. Learn wisdom. Seek it with all of your heart. In all your ways acknowledge God, and he will direct your paths.
5. You’re Not Living a Disney Story
Not everything in life is going to happen according to plan. It’s not all, always, going to work out. Life is going to be way messier than you realize. There’s a whole lot of hurt waiting out there in the wilderness of life.
But God can make a masterpiece out of a mess. You will learn that living in a fallen world is tough. So, cling to him. Fix your eyes on him.
6. Your Faith Is More Precious Than You Realize
Life has a way of constantly affirming two fundamental truths. The first unavoidable truth is: this world cannot satisfy you. A college education won’t satisfy you. A career won’t satisfy you. A marriage won’t satisfy you. A family won’t satisfy you. They were never meant to satisfy you.
The second truth is this: you can’t fix you. No matter how hard you try, it just won’t work. These truths, that the world can’t satisfy you and that you can’t fix you should point you behind the world to the only One who can satisfy and fix you. The older you get the more precious your faith will become.
So, hit your twenties with gusto. But know that life’s not going to be a fairy tale. Make sure you don’t do it alone. Situate yourself in a good Bible believing church that can help you navigate the ups and downs. And keep your eyes fixed on the only one who can satisfy you and change you from the inside out.
Even though you might get hit with some reality checks in your twenties, the greatest reality of all is that God, the creator of the universe, loves you in Christ and will never leave you nor forsake you.