on turning 30

Last month, I turned 30. It was a birthday that felt momentous, grandiose, and completely ordinary, all at the same time.

In the week leading up to and following, my actual birthday was the only day I didn’t have something on the calendar. There were lengthy lunches, decade-themed murder mystery bashes, and desserts shared with my adorable nephew. Thankfully, none of which were cancelled due to snow. (Hazards of a January birthday.)

I’ve been trying to write a post reflecting on this most recent birthday for the last month, struggling to put feelings into words.

Photo Feb 25, 11 03 54 AM.jpg

This birthday was about more than just saying goodbye to the previous year. It was about saying farewell to an entire decade of life — a decade that shaped and molded me, wrought more change than I could’ve ever imagined, and produced a woman I don’t know if 20-year-old me would recognize.

Between 29 and 30 alone, I spent six months in counseling for the second time, celebrated Galentine’s Day for the second year with some of my favorites, participated in my 10th IBC Easter pageant, and experienced Charleston’s “flood days” firsthand. I celebrated my business’ first birthday and squealed with delight when my brother proposed to one of my best friends. I spent time at the beach with my OG’s and hopped on a plane to hop on my first cruise ship, which took me to my final US state, officially completing Operation 50 Before 30. I went to Tennessee to gather with other incredible entrepreneurs who’ve literally changed the course of my business and smiled with glee as Corbin Bleu tap danced two feet in front of my face.

I stood alongside two of my dearest friends as they said “I do” to their forever someone and one of them simultaneously became my sister-in-law. I wrestled with fear and anxiety and questions, before ultimately making the choice to stay in Northern Virginia instead of moving down south. I unpacked boxes for the first time in 22 months and, possibly for the first time ever, intentionally made the choice to put down roots. I made a midweek day trip to NYC to see a show with my baby sister and finished reading every single book I own.

And that was just the last 365 days of my 20s.

The decade as a whole brought me through a college degree, 13 moves, three states, and six post-grad jobs. My first date, first kiss, first boyfriend, and first major heartbreak. A brother-in-law, aforementioned sister-in-law, and the world’s most adorable nephew. Countless adventures, road trips, Broadway shows, laughter and memories.

I formed new relationships with people who have become some of my favorites in the whole world, strengthened relationships with others who were already some of my favorites, and dug deep into an incredible community of believers who encourage, strengthen, and challenge me to love and serve the Lord better every single day.

My 20s were truly an incredible decade, full of so much laughter, adventure, and life, mixed with the sadness and heartache that makes the joy that much better.

But when I think back on my 20s, it isn’t the travel or the goals or the memories or the accomplishments I’m most proud of grateful for. When I think back on my 20s, my mind almost always jumps straight to a cold January morning, 24 days before I turned 25.

I was sick and weary, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. I was back living in my parents basement, at a job I didn’t enjoy, in counseling for the first time, fighting off panic attacks, a few months removed from my first legitimate relationship ending. To say I was unhappy with my circumstances would be a dramatic understatement.

That morning, I prayed a prayer: “Lord, teach me to trust you.”

I refer back to that prayer often. I call it the stupidest and smartest prayer I’ve ever prayed. I talk about it so much because it really is the prayer that changed everything.

Mere weeks after I prayed that prayer, the Lord flipped my life upside down (for the first time), as if to say, “You asked for a lesson in trust. Ready for an adventure?”

And that’s not to say the Lord couldn’t have done all the things He’s done in my life over the last five years if I hadn’t prayed that prayer, but Scripture is clear that while the Lord is sovereign, He doesn’t force our hand. He wants us to invite Him to bring about incredible change in our lives in the same way that He wants us to give our love willingly.

So when you ask Him to work and to move… He does. And He does it big.

Anyone who’s been friends with me for more than five minutes has probably learned I’m a crier by nature. Tears are just a thing you have to accept with me or our friendship isn’t going to last long. And tears — of gratitude, joy, gratefulness — brim in my eyes whenever I think about the Lord’s faithfulness in my life as a whole and my 20s as a whole, but especially over the last five years.

Like every year, I don’t know what 30 will bring into my life. I don’t know how different things will look a year from now or in ten, when I prepare to bid this decade that is currently so fresh and new farewell. The glimpses the Lord has given me of His plans for my life over the next year are equal bits exciting and terrifying… but the best things in life are usually a little bit of both, aren’t they?

I have hopes and dreams and prayers, of course. Unlike the past five years, I will no longer be praying for work I love or stability in my living situation because the Lord, in His faithfulness, has answered both of those prayers this past year (for now, at least). But I will still pray for my forever person to enter my life, all the while endeavoring to steward my singleness well, for as long as I have it.

Everyone has told me your 30s are infinitely better than your 20s. “Better” is a relative term, of course, but I do pray this new decade of life is that, if only because I have the eyes to see the big and little ways the Lord is working better than ever before.