Congratulations on your upcoming birthday. 23 is a big year, or at least it was for me.
Two days before my 23rd birthday, I witnessed my best friend getting married. I flew the next day to South Korea to spend a fun, perhaps a little wild, couple of weeks with my sister. Shortly thereafter I met my husband-to-be and also started my final year of nursing school. It was during this year that I got engaged, after a 6 month long distance relationship, I graduated university, left "home" to move to a new province, started my first job, and planned a wedding: my own. So they say, when it rains it pours, and rain it did, only to true of all the changes during this year of my life.
When looking back I do not like to say that I have regrets, because I believe everything happens for a reason. That reason being God's plan for my life, and to shape me to be the woman He desires me to be. However, I have been able to think of numerous pieces of advice that I probably "knew" at the time, but there is a world of difference when general advice becomes personal application. I am going to keep it limited to just a few thoughts.
God's timing is perfect; don't try to rush your own agenda. He makes all things beautiful in His time. I remember getting so frustrated with waiting for my nursing license to transfer to Ontario, it was going to happen eventually and I didn't have to get so worked up about the whole situation. I also wanted to get married ASAP, when in reality we could have waited a while and kept my family a little happier with the whole situation.
Which brings me to my next point. You don't have to make everyone happy, it's not your job. Do not compromise your values, and yet, still try to live at peace with everyone. Most of my life I have tried to please people, as best as I could, especially my parents, which was most often was a good thing. During that year I made some decisions that my parents weren't completely thrilled with and I knew that. However, it was part of breaking away from them and helped me to be a stronger person. I just had to re-adjust my focus to living my life in a way that pleases God. Where is my motivation? It should be devotion to God. (Jerry Bridges)
Another piece of advice that I had probably heard a million times, dress modestly (no explanation needed.)
I'm certain most young ladies at this age are married or possibly pursuing a husband or at least dreaming of the idea. I was quite content to be single on my 23rd birthday, but a few months later that changed. After I met Trevor, it did not take long for us to get pretty serious and within a year we were married. Although there were challenges along the way, I have been very blessed by our marriage and I am grateful for God's faithfulness in my life. I am thankful that we are walking in the way of the Lord, that we hold each other accountable, and are raising our children in light of His word.
After just reading Tim and Kathy Keller's "Reason for Marriage" this year I have discovered many new insights that are too numerous to share, and I recommend reading this book to married or singles alike. The following is some practical counsel that they give to marriage seekers.
Do not allow yourself deep emotional involvement with a non-believing person.
Feel attraction in the most comprehensive sense. Too many people chose their marriage partner on the basis of looks and money -- that they often find themselves married to a person they don't really respect that much.
Don't let things get too passionate too quickly. The kind of love that lasts a lifetime is not only a matter of emotions. It has to be a commitment strong enough to move us to glad, non-begrudging sacrificial service of another person even during the inevitable seasons when the emotions are dry or cool.
Marriage is God's gift to the church. Through Christian marriages, the story of the gospel -- of sin, grace, and restoration -- can be seen and heard both inside the church and out in the world.
The main practical piece of advice I can give is from the words of a simple children's song, "Read your bible, pray everyday, and you'll grow, grow, grow."
Always serving Him,
Tanya and I met only a few months ago, but I've enjoyed our time getting to know each other. We attend the same Young Adults/Young Couples Bible Study and I always appreciate her input.
Besides Bible Study, we have been known to get a little crazy and play ultimate frisbee on a Sunday night (party animals!) with our peeps.
Thanks SO much for contributing Tanya! This advice is golden!