Thirty. It wasn’t about the number. It was what the number represented and how everything came to the surface as a day of celebration approached.

I didn’t want to turn 30. I was a mess on the inside. That birthday reminded me I was not where I wanted to be. I had expectations. My heart knew them well, even if I had never defined them before that moment. Deep down I thought my life would look different by 30. It was a kind of invisible deadline for life’s milestones.

The birthday I so dreaded arrived. I felt the tension and I wanted to know why. What was my heart saying? Why couldn’t I celebrate the end of one decade and the beginning of another?

This was it —
Part of the struggle is holding up how we think our lives should look versus how God says it needs to be right now.

I imagined I’d be living more independently. Not necessarily away from my hometown, but in a house where I could regain a taste of the independence I experienced during college. I didn’t want to be far from my parents. I simply imagined I’d find roommates to live with and we could stay near my mom and dad. Ultimately, I hoped my dream for marriage would become a beautiful reality by 30. Because that is the birthday that has always felt like a milestone year, a time when things would happen.

I welcomed my thirtieth year weighed down with these expectations. How could I turn my ideas of a “good plan” into an embracing of my reality? I wanted one thing, but God had another plan in mind. The thirtieth year and the one that followed unfolded His better plan. It just looked different than I first imagined.

God knows my dreams and my heart. There are so many good things in my life right now. And with God, more are coming. The future is not my focus though. That’s what got me into trouble in the first place… dreaming about the future and what it should look like. We aren’t meant to live in the past or the future. Just in the here and now.

Before I could let go of expectations, I needed to name these expectations as well as those simple dreams. Then I could lay them down, give them back to God, and see that these expectations affected the way I saw myself, lived each day, and hoped for the future.

In what ways could I enjoy life now without giving up these simple dreams forever?


Next week we begin to explore how these expectations affected my identity.

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