Hey, you in your 20s: Having a Hard Day? Listen. Just Breathe.

In the past several years, I’ve landed on my bed in tears more times than I can remember. Life is hard. Growing up is hard. The 20s are a lively, fun and adventurous time of life, but they can also be very difficult. There are 5 things I’ve learned that I really want to share with anyone who is feeling the pain of living life in a fallen world – whatever that looks like for you.

1. Stop comparing. You are you. You are not her, and you are not him. Your life will never be her life or his life. Stop feeling like a failure because your life doesn’t look like theirs. Stop comparing your situation to theirs. They have things that you don’t have, and you have things that they don’t have. The truth is, your life is not supposed to look like theirs, and their life is not supposed to look like yours, because God has a different story written for each one of us. When you compare your story to someone else’s, you forfeit the deeply unique beauty of your own story. No one else has your story. You are the only one who gets to live your story. When you choose to focus on someone else’s story, you lose sight of the value of your own. Comparing is also never accurate, because you are not seeing the fullness of someone’s life – only bits and pieces. Stop comparing and live your own story.

2. Start recalling. Recalling the Lord’s faithfulness is a violent attack on anything that attacks God’s character or your faith. And there are plenty of attacks. Start remembering all the times God has come through for you. Call to mind that time He broke though for you in a way that you never thought was possible. Think of His faithfulness to lead you all the way to where you are today. Remind yourself of that time you were full of praise and thankfulness for what He had done. Recall every single time He blew you away with His goodness and lovingkindess. Start counting the ways He has shown you He loves you. Once you start, you will find it hard to stop. We lose sight of the goodness of God. Remembering even the littlest things can be a game-changer. Start making a list, and start thanking Him for His unfailing faithfulness. We have each been blessed more than we ever deserved.

3. Remember to breathe. Close your eyes and try to recognize this: You are alive. Your heart is beating right now. There is a reason for your existence. There is a purpose for your taking up space on this earth. You were a dream in the Father’s heart.

4. Wherever you are, be all there. Jim Elliott said it. “Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” All you have is this moment. The past has already happened, and the future hasn’t happened yet. Yesterday isn’t yours. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow isn’t yours either. Tomorrow hasn’t yet arrived. There is only today. Today is what you have – right now, right here, these circumstances, this setting, these people, this situation, this moment. This is what you have. Open your eyes to what you have, and embrace what is right now. Stop striving for what is not in your hands, and actually take a look at what is in your hands: this.

5. Give Jesus love. What are you supposed to do when it feels like life is falling apart? When it all seems to be spinning out of control? When things happen that you didn’t ask for that cause your life to change dramatically and you lose all control?

Where do you take disappointment and failed expectations? What are you supposed to do with heartache?

Did you know that Jesus wants our love not just in the season of plenty, but also in the season of lack? 

I have found that there is a place to bring all of your disappointment, fear and hurt and exchange them for something good. That place is the feet of Jesus. There is a rare gift to be found in laying down our hurts at His feet. Our tears are worth more than gold to Him. When we choose to run to Him and love Him while our tears are falling, that is a precious offering that cannot be given any other time or place. The angels can’t give him that kind of worship. We can’t give Him that kind of worship when life is sweet and all is well.

It’s when life is hard and our hearts are hurting that we have a rare opportunity to give Jesus Christ a sweet fragrance of love that He can’t receive from anyone else at any other time.

In some of my darkest moments, with tears pouring down my face and a heart so full of ache that I felt I could barely breathe, I spoke out the words “I love you, Jesus” over and over because it was the only truth I could remember at the time. And every time, I heard His whisper and felt the joy and delight of His heart in hearing those words from me: That’s beautiful. Say it again. Say it one more time. Oh, how that moves my heart. That’s so beautiful. This moment was worth going to the cross for. Keep saying it. Every time you tell me you love me in the midst of your pain, my heart bursts with joy. This is pure worship. This is the kind of worship my Father desires me to receive.

There is something so precious to the Lord about our choosing Him and loving Him through our tears. Don’t let seasons of heartache go by without doing this. Don’t miss your window to give Jesus that kind of worship. Don’t waste the opportunity to love Him like that.

One last reminder: When you’re attending that event you really don’t want to go to because it makes you feel the ache, when you’re watching that thing you’ve prayed for for years happen to someone else, when you are full of uncertainty as to when it will finally be your turn, when you lose that job or that relationship or that opportunity, when you find yourself falling on your bed in tears, don’t quit. Keep going. Let yourself feel that hurt and cry those tears – a hundred times if you have to – but don’t stay there. Rise to higher heights. Be the strong and beautiful soul that you are. You are a child of the Most High God, and He will never leave or forsake you.

You’re going to be ok. Really, you are. You are going to be fine. Don’t you ever stay in the place of lack. Visit it, go through it – as we all have to at some point – but go on out of it. When it’s over, don’t linger there. Move out into the place of abundance.

You can do this.

Love Him. Bless Him. And don’t ever forget that you were meant to live your story. Live it well.

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