I recently clicked on a link that was shared by 4 of my Facebook friends thinking, "this should be a great article!" It was entitled "23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You're 23".
As you probably know, I got married at 30 and though being single in my 20's was hard at times, especially when Facebook constantly reminded me that I was not married and didn't have children, I don't regret it. In fact, I am very grateful for it. I loved my 20's! The Lord is perfect in His timing and I couldn't imagine my life without my amazing husband now. I am so blessed.
I believe that God has a different story for each and every person. For some, that's getting married at 19. For some, that's getting married at 45. For some, that's never getting married. It doesn't matter. I believe that getting married is NOT our goal in life...loving God and loving others is. But whatever God's story is for you, you are called to do it the best that you can.
Ok, back to this blog about not getting engaged before you're 23... I think the idea of the post is great! The actual 23 things, I don't quite agree with. I have a bone to pick with one (well, many but I'll just mention this one) - "#7 Get a tattoo. It's more permanent than a marriage"....Not that I'm against tattoos at all, it's the second part. It's sad that our society views marriage as being not permanent. Say what you want...I know I've only been married for 2.5 months, but I do know what the Bible says. If we go into marriage with that mindset, we're doomed to fail.
If God has called you to be single for longer than you thought you would be, why not enjoy it?! Why not make the most of it?! I decided to make my own list since I didn't agree with the other one. I can't say that I achieved all of these in my 20's, but I'm so glad that I did achieve the ones that I did!
So here you go...30 things to do before you're 30 (especially if you're not married):
1) Figure out who you are - this is your transition from childhood to adulthood. Figure out what you believe in, what you like, what you want out of life before you bring others into the mix.
2) Think about your future - Do you want to go to school? Do you want to work your way up in a company? Do you want to start your own business? Do you want to be a stay-at-home-mom/dad? Do you want to travel?
3) Start saving money! Figure out how you're NOT going to be in debt the rest of your life like the rest of America. And I'll tack this one on - start saving for your retirement.
4) Pick a state in the US you've never been to and GO! This may require saving up some money, but do it while you're healthy and don't have children depending on you. You can totally do this once you have kids, but from what I hear, it's a heck of a lot harder. I plan to do it more when I do have kids!
5) If you can save up a little more money, visit a country that is out of your comfort-zone. The USA is a wonderful country and I'm so grateful to have been raised here, but going to another country opens your eyes like nothing else can. No matter where you live, you start to subconsciously think that the world revolves around you. That is wrong. Way wrong. God has created SO many cultures, SO many people groups, SO many different environments. I can't explain how it opens your eyes, but it really does. I wish everyone could do this before they die. It gives you perspective on the world and God's immense love.
6) Date around. Date different types of people. Find out what you like, what kinds of personalities you work with and clash with. Honestly, this will get you hurt at times. But getting hurt is what makes you stronger and helps you to figure out what you will work with successfully. It can help you be wiser in your choice of a mate.
7) Go to a counselor. I can't tell you how much counseling has done for me. I don't care who you are, where you come from, how healthy you think you are. You can benefit from counseling. We all have stuff that we need to talk through. NOTE: There are good and bad counselors. Do your research. Ask your friends. Find a good one!!!
8) Be artistic - Paint a painting. Copy something on Pinterest. Bake a cake. Make a wallet out of duct tape (wink, wink Penny). No, we're not all artsy people...myself included. But there's something therapeutic about being creative.
9) Figure out who your true friends are. A wedding most certainly shows you this, but if you keep your eyes open and observe who cares about your friendships as much as you do, you'll save yourself a lot of time.
10) Try all types of foods - perhaps you'll like something you didn't think you'd like. Try Thai, Greek, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, American, German, Chinese, Cambodian, Korean, Belgian, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dutch, Spanish, Polish, Brazilian, etc.
11) Learn how to do something new - Maybe you were never taught how to swim...why not learn how to as an adult? Learn how to sew. Learn how to fix a car. Learn how to invest.
12) Make at least one big decision on your own that most people do as a married couple - You will learn how to be independent and strong on your own. Making these decisions as a couple is huge, but if you're one that defers to another person most of the time, it will help you to be more decisive and independent. Purchasing my condo as a single woman definitely shaped who I am today.
13) Visit your family often - I hope you're from a family that is loving, because I know that not all are. But if you are, spend time with them. They are some of the only people that will still be there for you years down the line. And remember...family isn't always the one that you were born into.
14) Learn some jokes from your grandpa.
15) Put up a Christmas tree in your home at Christmas, even if you live alone and think that no one will ever see it. Do it for yourself.
16) Join a social group - through a church, through your apartment complex, on Meetup.com, with some common goal like rock climbing or running.
17) Become friends with many different types of people - get to know your neighbors, invite new friends to coffee just to learn from them, listen to views that are different from your own.
18) Scan your Facebook newsfeed less often - it leads to comparing our own lives to others and jealousy often stems from it.
19) Brush your teeth every night - I know it's basic, but I know most people don't. That's a lot of money you'll be spending down the line on dental work so why not prevent it starting now?
20) Get a pet (or at least "pet-sit" for a friend) - animals have a way of showing love that most humans cannot.
21) Learn to be content with your present circumstances - "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." - Paul in Philippians 4:11
22) Volunteer your time - "An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs - how he can please the Lord." -1 Corinthians 7:32 Don't worry...I'm not saying that as a single person, you have all the time in the world. I know that's not true! It used to frustrate me when people acted like I had all the time in the world because I wasn't married and wasn't a mother. No matter if you're married or single, I believe that we're called to help others in need. Use your time to give to others while receiving nothing in return.
23) Go to New Zealand - I know this is expensive and doesn't quite jive with #3, but don't miss out on this beautiful country. You will experience the most majestic mountains, huge glaciers, stunning wine country, massive whales, safest hostels, adrenaline-pumping adventure activities, intriguing history, and Frodo-spotting tours...not really. Seriously, words cannot explain how amazing this country is.
24) Exercise - Don't let the people who are obsessed with it intimidate you. Do it for you. Do it to keep your heart healthy. You don't want to be the person at 65 saying "I wish I had...."
25) Pay off debt - Work as hard as you can to obtain financial freedom from debt. Live minimally so you can pay off your student loans, credit cards, car loans. You can even work aggressively to pay off your mortgage at a young age.
26) Get checked out by a dermatologist. Remember all that time you spent in the sun in college? Skin cancer doesn't only choose those over 40. Start wearing sunblock regularly.
27) Find a mentor. Everyone can benefit from learning from someone who is older and wiser than he or she is. They may help you avoid some major pain and provide insight you never would have fathomed.
28) Move out of your parents house at some point. Be independent. Learn how to navigate on your own.
29) Take at least one year to be single. Some people come out of one relationship and dive right into another. #6 is still true - date around. But commit at least one full year to being single. It'll help you accomplish #1!
30) Open your heart to seeing God's love for you. Whether you believe in God or not, give Him a chance, just to see if He does it. Let Him reveal Himself to you. Put your faith in Him. It's the most important decision you'll make in your entire life.
You don't have to be unmarried or under 30 to do these things. I'm still working on some! But I would encourage you to take advantage of them if you are. You only live once...as much as I make fun of people who say YOLO, there's some truth to it. But do it wisely. For our true rewards are in Heaven for eternity.