"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

~Robert Frost

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Things I am still learning...that I wish I knew at 20

When I was 2o years old, I got married and started my adult life as a wife and, less than a year later, as a mother. At that point in my life, I knew everything.

I mean it. I was a genius, people. I could tell you the answer to anyone's problem, and I knew exactly what everyone should be doing with their lives. My brilliance didn't stop with other people, either...I knew exactly the best way to live my own life, too.

I knew the best way to parent, from the right way to experience childbirth all the way up to what precise path my children would take after highschool. I knew how to make my babies sleep through the night perfectly, how to potty train them effortlessly, how to teach them to read without breaking a sweat. I knew that if you always discipline your children correctly, they will always obey. I knew how easily I would lose the baby weight and get into perfect shape. I knew how to maintain perfect relationships with everyone in my life, and how to mend relationships if someone else did something to disturb them. I knew what God wanted for my life. I knew what God wanted for my children's lives. I knew what God wanted to see in the church. I knew that I knew more than anyone else did, and that if everyone would just listen to me, we'd all be fine.

Somewhere between 20 and 26, I managed to misplace all that knowledge. If you see it lying around somewhere, would you please return it to me?

I no longer know any of those things with any certainty at all. I have traded in all that knowledge for little gems like, "If you pretend not to smell the dirty diaper in hopes that your husband will give in and change it first, you will regret that tactic when you end up having to cut your baby's clothes off of her later in a futile attempt to change the diaper without getting anything on the floor, the walls, the baby's hair, and your own cute new dress that you just bought at Target."

Now I know things like how few minutes of sleep I can get overnight without actually dying the next day. I know that potty training is a process and no matter that the book says it will teach you to "train your child in less than a day" -- it will still be a process. I know that even with bright children who are eager to learn, teaching someone to read takes for.e.ver. and is not actually something I like to do. I know that losing the baby weight is less important than eating healthily and exercising regularly, and that even if I never again weigh what I did at 20, I will keep working to be healthy because life is easier when I am. I know that disciplining my children is one of the most difficult and relentless things I will ever do, and that despite all my love, consistency, and prayers, the end result is not guaranteed. And I do not know when all three of my children will always sleep all the way through every night.

I do not know how to fix broken relationships. I do know that it is not actually only other people that are to blame for breaking them. I do not know exactly what God wants to see in the church. I do know that He wants to see His love toward others in me.

I know that my life looks absolutely nothing like I expected it to look, and I am beginning to suspect that it never will. And I am so very grateful for that, because I also know now that God is making each step of the journey into exactly what I need it to be.

I know that God is love. I know that His grace is sufficient for me. And this life He has given me -- I know that it is beautiful.


  1. Beautifully written Jennifer! You have such a sweet spirit=)

  2. I read this today on YLCF and it was exactly what I needed for today. Thank you so much. I'm 20, and the Lord has recently been showing me that I *don't* know everything and that my future life (Lord willing) as a wife and mother is not going to be as perfect as I like to think sometimes! (It's so easy to get into that mindset!) ... This post was an excellent lesson. Thank you so much for sharing it.