“i hope you always remember what it’s like to be twenty three and terrified…” the other day, a friend said these words and with tears in my eyes, i knew i never wanted to forget.

the day i turned twenty-three, i knew it would be my favorite year. that birthday was a day filled with donuts + coffee, kind words and a profound awareness of god’s faithfulness. i knew twenty three would be a year of a wildly different kind. i had recently graduated from college, recently moved into a tiny city house, recently accepted the most unexpected job in a performing arts department and recently come to the conclusion that i actually hadn’t the slightest idea what i was going to do with my life. the uncertainty made room for hope, and sweet, tangible provision made me so sure that god was about to do a new and mighty thing. but also, i was so scared. what if i’m not good at my job? what if no one likes me here? what if i can’t pay rent? what if i never learn how to cook chicken? what if i never figure out what i’m good at, what i’m called to, or how i’m going to spend my days? i was so scared and so unsure, but still so certain that this would be a year filled with good things. good, weird, unexpected things.

twenty three has been filled with excessive laughter, cups of passenger coffee, trips to the store for office creamer and episodes of grey’s anatomy (bless). i learned how to make cinnamon rolls from scratch, unclog the kitchen sink and do my taxes on my own. i handed out a ton of bigley balloons, learned to play three chords on the ukulele and woke up with “seventy six trombones” stuck in my head more times than i’d like to admit. it’s been a year of embracing curly hair and standing up straight. of figuring things out and doing things afraid. of finding god to be more faithful, present and constant than i hoped he’d be.

i came into twenty three with more hurts and scars and hesitations than i even knew i had. sweet friends, i wish i could tell you the whole story + i will if you want me to. around dinner tables, across coffee cups and in old, wooden pews, god has healed the loneliest parts of my heart and brought me to this beautiful understanding of family. he’s given me this tribe of unexpected, undeserved and ridiculously loyal people to call my own. after a season of questions and silence, he’s given me a season of singing. he’s restoring broken relationships and teaching me over and over to face hard things. to let him have the broken pieces, to let people see the parts of me still unresolved. his refusals have been mercies, and his gifts have been so good. he has made me brave, made me surer of who he is and made me smile a million squinty-eyed smiles. god has extravagantly redeemed my biggest mistakes and hardest seasons, making me free to let down my guard and let him get the glory. because of jesus, it is well. even the messiest parts can not be but well.

while i’m feeling pretty hopeful about twenty four, there’s a part of me that wants to be twenty three forever, to stay in this space where god is so sure and the rest of life is uncertain. where nothing is settled but everything’s an adventure. where god whispered in a million tiny ways that he’s good. i want to remember, always, what it’s like to be twenty three and terrified.

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