20 years ago, it was 1998. The Winter Olympics were being played in Japan, Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" was the top of the charts, and I was born. Twenty years later, as I reflect on my life, I wonder how I made it this far. How did that tiny baby grow up? She was a chubby toddler, a shy grade schooler, an awkward middle schooler, a passionate high schooler, and now she's a happy college student. I find myself in an unlikely position. How did I manage to make it this far?
As a kid, I was taught three very important things: the good guys always win in the end, your "people" are more important than anything except Jesus, and Jesus will always get you through it. I don't think I truly understood any of those lessons until I was much older, but looking back now, I can see how they have shaped who I am. Everything in my life has come to me by nothing more than God's grace. Essentially, that's what those three life lessons amount to.
These twenty years, at times, felt stupid and pointless — especially the second ten — because I just wanted to get on with my life, to have experiences, to do something meaningful in the world. I was happy, but I knew that I wanted more. I just didn't realize that I was being prepared for everything that is ahead of me.
At twenty, there is still a lot of life left to experience, but there's also a lot I've already done. I've traveled to a few major destinations, I've gone on wild adventures in my hometown, figured out my taste in music, learned not to overdo it with the eyeliner, and discovered the freedom of grocery shopping for yourself for the first time.
I've lived with friends who I share a deep, sisterly love with. I've been successful and I've failed. I've known great love. I've experienced deep and profound loss. I've been so surrounded by the love of an amazing family that I don't deserve. I've laughed and cried and everything in between, sometimes at the same time. I've fallen back on Jesus and been caught by His love over and over. I've known God and watched as He stretched His hand down from Heaven. I've been frustrated when He's been silent.
So, as I sit and look ahead on the next one, five, and even twenty years, I wonder what they will be like. Will I sit and think "how did I make it this far" again? The answer is yes, probably. But I know the answer about how too: nothing more or less than God's grace and mercy. My three life lessons, my experiences, the way I've been loved, and the way I've lost all tell me this. So to my family and friends, thank you. To the people that have made me who I am, thank you. And most of all, thank You, Lord Jesus, for this life that I don't appreciate nearly enough.