Generosity is the Key…

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I have always sorta known that being generous was important. Without realizing it, I saw it growing up in my parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents etc.. I understood that they were kind and loving, but I do not think I interpreted their actions as generous at the time because it was just sorta how they were.

Grandparents on both sides of my family were generous with food… Literally feeding everyone who came and went from their house. People in my family seem to be known for taking people in to live with them… and feeding them. They always had things to give them, and lived a life that repeatedly said “people are more important than things” – Sometimes actually repeating this mantra.

Now that I am grown, and trying my best at this adulting thing, I have realized so many of the ways that my parents were generous. My parents never ran out of time for you. Hours upon hours have been spent talking and spending time with people in my house growing up. Sometimes it was me and my siblings that needed the time, other instances it was cousins or other family members, students, co-workers, friends; regardless, my parents have always been generous with their time.

Growing up it would drive me bonkers because we were endlessly late places. – Why? Why could my dad not stop talking and get in the car so we could go?!… Looking back, so many hours were spent in parking lots and at restaurants giving people what only my dad could give, and what people needed most: his time. People are drawn to my parents, to their kindness, to their wisdom, to their knowledge, to their genuine authenticity, and to the joy and love that they spill out to everyone. Whether people realized it or not, they have always been drawn to the way that Jesus exudes from my parents.

Thankfully, I feel like these traits of my parents has been passed on to me and all of my siblings.

I never totally understood growing up what was happening because generosity was just a part of our family… But, because we did not have money, I had separated in my mind that generosity was supposed to mean with your money, everything else was sorta just how my family was.

As an adult, I realize how flawed and totally wrong that perspective was. So totally wrong.

Being generous certainly can include money.. which is why I think tithing and gifting is so important. It helps you separate yourself from the control that money can have on you. But, in reality, generosity is so much more pervasive and multi-dimensional that just currency.

Generosity of any kind changes people’s lives.

Generosity has a rippling effect that impacts people we will never meet face to face.

I find that as I get older, I take note of the generous people in my lives and are drawn to them, respect them, and desire to surround myself with them at an ever-increasing level.

Two of the most generous people I have ever met are my lead pastor Mark Batterson and his wife Lora. I do not really understand how they always find the time, money, and attitudes of generosity, but they do, endlessly. Pastor Mark says all the time that he wants those who know him best to respect him the most; and it is true. The more you get to know him, the more you respect him; I am fascinated by how true this fact plays out, even working at the church that he has been pastoring for 20 years! He and his wife’s giving spirits are so built into their lives that I do not even think they realize some of the ways they are generous. Interactions with them are teeming with graciousness, kindness, and generosity… So much so that it is tangible!

Sometimes, I think my friends get tired of how much I love and respect this next person (who I have only met once); but Josh Garrels is another person whose generosity has made a huge difference in my life. I shared once a while ago about how much his generosity weathered me through a horrible season because he put his albums up on Noisetrade for free. This week I was once again reminded of his double blessing generosity; he put out on Noisetrade an anniversary album that included bonus tracks, and instrumental tracks from his album Home. While the album is free until April 28th, he also included a note that any tips you leave him on Noisetrade will be donated to World Relief and One Million Thumbprints (Check them out, it’s pretty amazing).  – All I could think is of the abundant generosity that exhibits of him and his wife!

Here I am as an adult, finding that the most generous thing I have to offer is my time, my joy, my kindness… and a little food certainly doesn’t hurt. People are more important than things, and letting people become more of “my people” and join my community is one of the most generous things I can do. And, oh how I love it.

I cannot always give money, but I can always give time. – Especially as I become more diligent with my time management.

I think the world can absolutely become a better place with more kindness, more generosity, and more stepping into community that is hard to love people well.

Generosity is the key to changing the world one impactful moment at a time.

The Beauty in Music – @JoshGarrels

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This is a bit of a hike of a story, but I went to my first Josh Garrels concert last night, and I had such an immense amount of emotion throughout the evening that needed to get processed. So, here is the quite long process…

Some back story first.
Several years ago, I was introduced to Josh Garrels Music. I heard a couple of songs, loved it, then realized, I listened to his music all the time and became slightly obsessed.

His music was the perfect easy listening music that I could tap into or out of throughout my day as I worked. His music is soothing and comforting, sharing emotions that I felt or understood with unique sounds and amazing vocals. I have always said, his style is the perfect blend of life, theology and literature with music.

So, I bought every album he had off of Noisetrade. I listened to his music virtually every day for a solid year.

During that year, life was hard, life was good, and life was busy. I felt an immense burden to keep carrying on, pushing through difficulties and making it through my journey well, no matter what I faced.

Then, I had about $9,000 worth of stuff stolen from my apartment from someone I was helping, while I was on mission out of the country. It was just stuff, I could handle this, and I’ve never particularly been attached to my things… But, let me tell you, police reports, insurance, detailed lists.. Who steals 3 bottles of shampoo but neatly lines up the expensive weapons you had stashed around the house?!

Then, in the midst of dealing with the insurance company, I was let go from my job. Thankfully, I was given a stipend that would get me through the end of my lease in a couple of months.

I felt crushed, like my life was literally crumbling before my eyes and I was too weak and small to stop it from happening.

I went home after finding out, and despite putting on a brave face for everyone else.. I sat on my couch with my puppy wanting to play, and I just sat. Feeling no emotions except disbelief… How had I gotten here?

How do I follow God halfway across the country, only to a year later be sitting in my apartment with so many things that were just stuff to me missing? What do I do now?

The job I thought was pursuing Him now gone. And in its place, just nothing.

No direction, no peace, no confidence.

So, in Krista fashion, I got up from that place, I had stuff to do, no one was going to help me. I went to my newly replaced computer, re-downloaded my iTunes music, surfed for Josh Garrels and almost cried when I realized none of his music was bought through iTunes. I uttered a little “Come ON God” prayer and went to Noisetrade again silently pleading that I would find something.

All of Josh Garrels’ music was free.

Every. Last. Song.

I could replace every album without having to pay a for it second time. I had one of those huge sighs that gets stuttered when you’re about to cry. So, I once again downloaded his albums, put them on blast and proceeded to start cleaning and packing.

Fast forward several months.
I had applied for several hundred jobs around the country, I no longer lived in my own home, but instead stored my stuff with one aunt and uncle and moved in with another aunt and uncle. I knew how blessed I was because I was being so amazingly taken care of by people who made me feel like it was the simplest thing in the world and that I belonged. I knew I was given precious time with my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews that all lived close by.

Yet, I had been told by God that life would get worse… and worse it got.

Months went by and I spent every day all day applying for jobs and doing freelance work to pay my monthly bills.
Winter was the worst one in MI, with snow storms every three days for months, no sunshine, and I was alone all day long trying to force movement in my life that simply wasn’t budging.

And, every day, Josh Garrels music played in the background.

I often would crawl into bed at night, and my heart would be aching, feeling abandoned by God, fearful of tomorrow, stressing about every dollar I had to spend, trying to rationalize the season I found myself in, and feeling nothing but pain. So, I created a sleeping playlist hoping that the music would wash over me, and usher in peace as I slept. The playlist had everything from Hillsong and Enter the Worship Circle, to Brooke Fraser and Josh Garrels. Anything that said something to my heart softly was played.

For months this went on; my head knowledge was full on at war with my heart knowledge.
My head knew full well that my savior is always faithful, always has been, and always will be; but, my heart-felt none of that. I struggled to understand, but always came up short.

Then, in a horrible series of events, a friend needed help, and I had the availability to go. So, we spent months together in both of our utter brokenness trying to help the other in different ways, while leaning on the support we offered each other. But, for the first time in almost a year, I had purpose, I was needed, I finally was capable to do something productive. I still spent hours every day applying for jobs and seeking out freelance work, and never quite let go of the deepening feeling that despite how I looked on paper, I was not enough.

All the while, Josh Garrels music played in my headphones. Other music was certainly a part of my life, For King and Country was played often, as was Brooke Fraser’s music. But, the constant that I returned to was Josh Garrels.

Then, last fall, I got an interview, then a second, then a job, moved, and began slowly rebuilding my broken life in DC again.

Still feeling as though I was building a house of cards that would come down, surely life was not yet good. I enjoyed my new life, friends and job, but I was confident deep down that the other shoe would fall and I would be once again useless. Fear began seeping into every small facet of my life. Not once before would I have described myself as a fearful person, I have always loved to dance in the unknown and “see what happens” because after all, what is the worst that could happen? Yet, here I was trying to push through, hoping deep down that eventually I would feel safe again.

Josh Garrels released his new album Home a couple months ago, and it is perfect. It reflects such a peace, joy and comfort that home has. That safe feeling that you belong, are known, and that it’s ok to mess up because that doesn’t change who you are or how much you are loved.

I’m fairly confident I have listened to the album every day since it’s release.

Last night at Josh Garrels’ concert in VA, he talked about the emotions of Home. He described the season of life he was in, and how on paper it was good, yet he was struggling through these feelings of fear but needing to know things were going to be alright. I could have spoken every single one of those words (except for being married and having three children haha).

I love his new album immensely, but his old work carries deep inside of me cause it was the backdrop of so much pain, life, wrestling, and working through who I was and my worth when all else was stripped away.

My Abba Father and I have been sifting through where my identity rests. What worth do I have when I am incapable of helping someone else? How do I accept my good when I mess up so often, handling things so poorly more often than I ever care to admit.

Throughout the concert, Josh Garrels played some of his new music, but also much to my delight, some of his old music as well. So, in the course of an hour and a half, I felt all the feels of the old life of the last few years, and the hope that is slowly seeping into my new life.

So, today, I find myself feeling an immense amount of thankfulness.
Thankful to my friend who gifted me with tickets to the concert.

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Thankful for Josh Garrels, his wife, his music, and how he shares his journey towards Christ.

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Thankful that God is working, and moving, and creating something new in me.

Thank you for letting me share my story and unpack another layer and element of what is happening inside of me.

Rabbit Trails Jacked up on RedBull…

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Last week, I met up with a woman who through a series of events, unknowingly became my (quite possibly forever) mentor three years ago. You see, in 2012 we were supposed to meet so she could be my coach for a short timeframe. Then, a huge storm hit DC, and we were left trying to connect when basically all of the DC area had no power. I was convinced she would reschedule, that’s the only thing that made sense. Instead she was determined, and we worked for an extra 45 minutes simply trying to locate a place we could connect that had power.

I knew right then, if she would work that hard through the obnoxiousness that was our situation, I could trust her.

We sat at a random Korean bakery and she saw me. No matter what answer I gave, she kept peeling back the layers of me and my situation. With each layer, she gently stood there waiting for me to stop struggling against the exposure and allow her in to help me. She understood. She had been there, she related to my struggles. Every. Single. One.

Then I moved away two months later. The chaos of life for a couple of years kept both of us at the edge of having a basic knowledge of what was happening in the other’s lives.

Well, as only God can do, He orchestrated everything for me to return not long ago, which then had me run into her at a weekend event. All of a sudden we were back, she saw me, she understood me.. and despite her insane chaotic life, she stood there and talked to me insisting we make time to get together.

Yet, because both of our lives are crazy, it took a couple of months to finally connect. And, once again, when we did, she saw me. Regardless of my answer, she sees where I have been, she understands my journey, struggles, strengths, and with the wisdom that only someone who has weathered the same storms, she knows the direction I am going.

Our conversations are something similar to rabbit trails jacked up on RedBull… We ebb and flow through conversations and back again at an alarming rate, yet she never loses the anchor or the heart of what is going on and how everything ties together.

This amazing woman is who I want to be.. she loves fiercely, flies from one thing to the next so she can love as many people as possible, while taking the time to boldly direct people to Jesus and share the real thoughts and struggles that most people hide away… And then laughs off the craziness that is her schedule.

I cannot help but look at her and be amazed at how Jesus has created her to be, with the spirit that I desire to unleash in my own life. I am so thankful and amazed that she has stepped into my life to move me beyond my yesterday, towards a better version of myself tomorrow.

Seasons of Healing…

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I typically love seasons of healing, there is life and death taking place together in the process. I am entirely guilty of wanting to rush the process, but I never regret the time it took on the other side… This particular season of healing has proved more difficult than I anticipated. Which, I suppose no matter the injury, healing always takes longer than we think or hope for in the beginning.

One of the things that has struck me about this particular season of healing is how little the Christian community addresses what seasons of healing look like. And then, in the absence of clarity, I have found myself feeling a bit crazy in the process of what I have recently realized is actually pretty normal..
Should I feel this way?
Should I think like this?
Should I be this emotional?
Does this show my lack of faith?
Is this normal to feel this way?
Why can’t I seem to shake this off?
Am I depressed?
Is it normal to be so tired all the time?
Have I always been this stressed?
Have my muscles always been so tight?
If I love my life so much, why am I still feeling anxious?
And on and on and on….

I was talking with a friend who went through a similar experience, and her response was, “I’m sorry, I should have told you that you were going to feel all of these things for much longer than you would expect to.”

We then talked through all of the random feelings, all of the irrational emotions, the physical effects of everything… and how the season of healing on the other side of a dessert season is often forgotten about by those who have gone through them. I can see why though, I do not want to “stay” stuck in the past, so even I do not want to talk through my own situation… I just want to push forward.

I cannot possibly blame someone else for not thinking to tell me that this season of life sucks almost as much as the last. However, it is of utmost importance to work through and not barrel through this season. I must feel, sit in, deal with and process each step; then and only then will complete healing take place.

True growth and learning must happen in the midst of the whirlwind that feels like this season has been.

I am so thankful and beyond grateful for the plethora of people who have encouraged, challenged, given undeserved grace, shared wisdom or a listening ear, and for all of those who have prayed for me throughout.

So. Grateful.

On the other side of all of this God will make my ashes into beautiful art.

Excitement and Nervousness…

It has been 51 weeks since I have had full-time job. For the last year, I have put almost all of my effort towards finding a new job and moving forward. In the course of the last year I have dabbled in my consulting work, and really just used it to help cover the basic financial needs that I had.

Throughout the course of job-hunting, I have been struggling with frustration, timing, and desperately trying to hold onto any bits of hope I could find. And then, recently I have started to realize that maybe God is just telling me “no”… But, then what if he was saying “wait” instead.. And then, concern and frustrating would grow deeper because I could not get a clear grasp of the situation or direction.

Within the last few weeks, three more job possibilities fell through, and at the same time I had several people (separately) start encouraging me to really think about and pursue my consulting work… After all, I was already building a client list that includes people in several states, another country, and a vast array of industries… Technically, I was already “succeeding” even though I had not stopped to look at it in that way.

Initially, I dismissed the notion of working to survive off of my consulting work. After all, the level of income I would need means my number of clients would be absolutely ridiculous.. and, I was fairly confident I would not be able to pull it off without killing myself.

Yet, after a couple of weeks of someone mentioning it almost daily, I began to really consider the possibility, but found myself truly struggling with fear of failing. –Which was a unique experience since fear is not often a factor that inhibits my decision-making.

I was plagued with hundreds of “what ifs” and overwhelmed with the possibility of trying and failing, then frustrated all over again that those two things were impacting me to such a degree that I was refusing to move.

So, several weeks later, dozens of conversations with a whole lot of different people, thinking, praying, and really processing what would need to happen in order for me to survive off of my consulting work.. All of which I am fairly confident drove my friends and family crazy (thanks for the patience), I have finally settled with some excitement and trepidation on a decision:

I am going to pursue consulting as a full-time/main source of income.

I may upon occasion still apply to full-time jobs that strike me as particularly exciting or interesting, however, I am no longer going to mainly focus on applying for jobs. If God opens a door for me to walk through that seems right, then I will, but until then, consulting work seems to be the only door open.

Which of course leaves the question, what am I consulting on?

Marketing,
Communications,
Advertising,
Social and Digital Media,
Content and Copy Writing,
Branding,
Strategic Planning,
Business Development,
Leadership Training,
Change Management,
Among a few other closely related items…

I mean after all, I already have a large portion of the up front work done:
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I have been slowly gaining clients through freelance sites online, but I have been amazed by the word of mouth clients that have come along unexpectedly. I am also excited that I have found an interesting niche in consulting for smaller churches.

I really do love and enjoy both the field of marketing and when I get to do consulting work, I like getting to know new people and researching their industries. However, I think what I enjoy the most is using something that is relatively “useless” in the grand scheme of things, and getting to impact people’s lives in a significant and meaningful to them way.

Along the way, some of my biggest hold ups have been that it was not in my plan to switch to consulting work as my main career focus… My plan was to do consulting work if I ever got married and needed to follow my husband, and/or needed to stay at home with kids… But, as a single woman, I never really considered it to be a real possibility… Yet here I am not only considering it, but working towards it diligently every day. Yikes!

A small part of me almost expects a full-time job to come around now that I have shifted my focus, but I am building my clientele slowly enough that I would be able to have both a full-time job and maintain my clients. Plus, I am trusting that God is using this change in direction to restore, rebuild me, and shape my future entirely differently than I had anticipated and planned for.

It is all both exciting and makes me really nervous.

Please pray for me and that I am able to build my clients to a decent level, but also, that I can move forward without fear motivating me one way or another.

Also, I would appreciate you keeping me in mind as you hear of people/companies/churches that may need help!

I think it is finally time to start regrowing.

IMG_1699“My Tree”, you can read more about the story behind this tree here.

 

Love of Traveling…

I love traveling.

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Seriously, short or far, driving, the train, or flying, I love traveling. Even the obnoxiousness of delays, weather, unforeseen obstacles, I love the unknown adventure that comes with traveling.

I think my love for traveling is why I miss Europe so terribly every day. Seriously, I think about my two-week trip to Europe every single day.

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I replay conversations had with one of my best friends…
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I remember amazing food… and some.. not so fabulous food.
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I laugh to myself about funny conversations, signs, experiences, reactions etc…

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I miss exploring, and walking until I have cankles, and getting to just play and experience something entirely new that I had no idea existed, or had on my bucket list to cross off.
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I love seeing things that take my breath away.
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I miss having nothing to do but talk about anything that comes to mind whether serious, silly, ridiculous, precious, touching, memories, heartaches.. all of it.
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I even miss the crazy adventures that were inadvertently created trying to lug everything around from city to amazing city.
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Every single day I miss it.

But, mostly, right now I think I miss how my heart felt traipsing around Europe. I felt full, excited, loved, like God and I were connected, and as though my partner in crime understood me perfectly. For the very first time in my adult life, I had the chance to take a real vacation and just relax and let my mind not think about work or school for an extended period of time. I was able to just focus on the things in front of me, not the things I had to do tomorrow or checking things off my to-do list… I was able to use the time to process through hurts and bounce thoughts off of someone repeatedly as I worked through them over the course of the couple of weeks. I had the chance to look through my camera lens and be creative and see beauty.

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Life just looks different when you purposefully look for beauty.
I want to do better at purposefully looking every daily.

Classic Paris

And, we laughed. All the time, every day.

I will often find my heart suddenly transported back to the feelings I had when I see pictures of (any of) my trips… Such as, I will once again find my heart full of thankfulness to God for allowing us to see the sunrise on a completely cloud covered morning.

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While I realize, that sometimes it may just be that it is easier to miss something purely because it was fun and great, and I am in full on hatred mode of winter right now… (since the snow pile in the driveway is taller than me…) But, in reality most of my sentiments are not really a new feeling, every single day since getting back, I have thought about my trip to Europe. I will find myself going about normal activities, and things I learned will bubble to the top of my mind to be mulled over again, conversations we had will replay in my head, people we talked to will spring to mind, and all of the time we were able to just be together and be friends; it was exactly perfect.

I think that the beauty I see in traveling, the experiences that follow me for the rest of my life, and all of the things that I find myself learning and going back to for such a long time add to my love of it all.

I could talk endlessly about all of the things I have learned and the ways that traveling has changed me, but it would be better conveyed over a cup of coffee in person.

Although, in reality, sometimes the learning takes place while you travel will show up in the form of just fun trivia… Like seeing a scene in a movie (Now You See Me) and knowing that the place does NOT actually look like it is depicted on the movie.. therefore it is a set.Lock.KiraLock.MeLock.Both

And, like the one time I was thumbing through a “100 things you must see before you die” book and seven of them I saw on my trip ONE trip to Europe, and three others I had seen on other trips… (And, I even think that some of my pictures were better than in the book!)

I have now experienced two types of travels: Travels to help others, and travel for the sake of fun. Either one is great and honestly life changing in different ways, but both serve a wonderful and unique purpose. I love each type of trip.

All of these things, and so many more are what continue to grow my love of traveling, and why it will always hold a special place in my heart unlike anything else.

Single v. Married…

I have been watching an interesting debate discussion lately about the benefits of being Single or being Married.. Or getting married young.. Or staying single longer.. whatever.

It has felt recently as though there are two teams and they are at odds with each other. I think it is a little odd that we seem to be “fighting” or trying to convince others that our current state is the best or correct one.

Here are a few of the articles in the discussion so you can follow along with why I am writing this post:
23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23
The Results of a Closed-Minded 23 Year Old
I Got Married at 23. What Are the Rest of You Waiting For?
Marriage Isn’t For You
Why I Did I Get Married so Young

(There are more, and you possibly have read different ones)

The “conversation” as a whole really just interests me quite a bit. Obviously some of the blog posts are in direct response to one another, whereas others seem to be oblivious to the conversation at large, and are merely adding their thoughts to the world.

I also think it’s interesting that 23 is the number that keeps getting brought up.

Let me start out by saying, I am not loving on or hating on one side of this conversation or the other, merely responding to the conversation as a whole. I think it would be helpful to highlight some things.

Some background on myself so you can be more aware of where I am coming from:
I am a turning 29 years old, still single, never married or engaged woman.
I am not at all against marriage, and not only did I think early on in my life that I would be married by this point in life, I still would like to get married to the right man someday… But, I am content single, actually love aspects of it, and I am willing to wait for the right man because I have seen the destruction of divorce in too many people (of all ages).
I also have done quite a bit of reading of research on Millennials (those born between 1980-2000) because I find people and culture fascinating (especially my own).

Now that my vantage point is known, here is my personal perspective and thoughts on the Single v. Married conversation:

Not everyone who is single loves it.
Not everyone who is married loves it.

Not everyone who is single thinks they have made a better choice than getting married.
Not everyone who is married thinks they have made a better choice than to stay single.

Being single has some major pros and cons.
Being married has some major pros and cons.

Singleness can be hard.
Marriage can be hard.

Selfishness is pervasive among single people.
Selfishness is pervasive among married people.

Some people “do” single better than being married.
Some people “do” married better than being single.

In some cases staying single was the wise choice.
In some cases getting married was the wise choice.

Grace, compassion, and selflessness is common among an astounding number of single people I know.
Grace, compassion, and selflessness is common among an astounding number of married people I know.

Life is an adventure when you are single.
Life is an adventure when you are married.

Staying single is better/healthier than getting divorced.
Getting married is better/healthier than sleeping with someone you’re not married to.

Remaining single “late” into your adult life does not automatically mean you are wiser than a young married couple.
Getting married young does not automatically mean you are unwise or pathetic.

Being single “late” into your adult life does not mean you are against those married young (or older).
Being married young (or older) does not mean you are against those still single “late” into adult life.

Being single does not mean you have purposefully chosen to be so to “get your life together”.
Being married does not mean you have purposefully chosen to be so because you’ve “gotten you life together”.

Etc..etc.. See?

For me, there are days that singleness is just straight up hard, and other times I love the advantages of flying solo. But, from my plethora of friends (married at all ages), there are days that they remind me that being married is just hard too or they love every little bit of the married life…

From where I sit, both have the same qualities, it just depends on the person or couple.

My perspective is that regardless of if you are married or single, you should have goals.. Good goals ones, fun ones, hard ones, solid ones, frivolous ones, and seemingly impossible ones, I think that is how you help yourself grow, and a way to help measure success as a single or married person/couple.

So, please, let’s stop justifying why one is better than the other as if our choice was the right one for everyone… or the perfect decision forever.

If you are single and loving it or wish to be married, that is awesome and good things can and will happen during this season.
If you are married and loving it or wish you had waited, good things can and will happen during this stage of life.