Experience #1: Hanging out with the right crowd will take you further than you ever will on your own.
Ever since I was a little girl I have always been apart of a certain group or click. You would never see me alone or isolated from others. I enjoyed being among the crowd and having others to socialize with. With every school grade I passed, I always had new friends that were similar to me. By similar I’m referring to similar mindsets. The fact I was hanging out with people who also wanted to be successful and purposeful, motivated me to work harder and sacrifice more. Competition presented itself within my group of friends. However, it was the healthy form of competition that enabled us to get closer to our individual goals. Throughout my adolescence and early adulthood up until now, hanging out with the right people (not necessarily friends) has only gotten me closer to my dreams and desires. Without their drive to be better and desire to succeed and conquer, I would not be half the person I am today.
Experience #2: Your (good) plans are not necessarily God’s plans for you.
This experience was a tough one! How do you convince yourself that what you’ve been looking forward to almost your whole life is not what God wants for you? If you ask a young child what they want to be when they grow up, most of them would shout confidently what their little heart desires. I was that young child with the desire to one day grow up and become a doctor. Throughout my middle school and high school years, I planned for my future as a doctor. I was involved in every health organization, enrolled in the right classes and always looked for opportunities to enlarge my network. However, God had other plans. When I made the choice of surrendering my plans, dreams and desires to Him, God took me on a journey of faith to later reveal His calling over my life. Trust me, although your plans are good, God’s plans are better. Trust Him with them and be amazed!
Experience #3: No one is perfect (not even that person you believe is perfect).
We all have at least one celebrity crush or role model we look up to. In our minds we believe they are perfect. But truth is, they are not. We only get to see the surface of what truly dwells within them. People in high regard are often seen as perfect or without flaw. Their position or entitlement naturally sets them up for “perfectionism” and thus people view them as perfect. On behalf of those you believe are perfect, they want you to know they are normal human beings like you and me. Don’t forget that.
Experience #4: There is a time and place for everything.
Growing up I had to wait for a certain stage in my life to do and obtain certain things. A few of the things I waited anxiously for as a young girl was: make-up, driver’s license, being old enough to date and get a job. I started driving when I was in 7th grade but only if my dad was sitting in the passenger seat. I later obtained my driver’s license when I was 15. Similarly, there is a time and place for God’s promises over your life. Can you imagine what could have happened if I decided to drive out in the street by myself at 13 years of age without a drivers license? I had yet to develop experience and learn to navigate through the rules and regulations of driving out in the street. Likewise, God is preparing you and developing you for the great work ahead that He has prepared for you since the beginning of time. Don’t allow yourself to be discouraged because what you earnestly long for is not happening now. Remind yourself of Ecclesiastes 3:1 “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”
Experience #5: Expectations will hurt you.
I’ve learned that having expectations isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually a normal thing to expect certain things to unfold in our life. However, expectations become detrimental when we begin to expect things that have not yet introduced themselves in our life. We begin to form our own conclusions of how a person should be, act and treat us without yet meeting the person. Or we begin to strategically write our life story in our head without consulting the creator of our life – God! I believe expecting great things from God is a must! He’s the one person you can expect great things from and will never fail you or disappoint you. Take time to carefully analyze your current expectations of people and the season you are in. Distinguish between your realistic and unrealistic expectations. Trust me, in doing this you will spare yourself from heartache.
Experience #6: Friendships come and go.
As we navigate through life and become wiser, our circle of friends only becomes smaller. In every season of our life, God has a way of bringing people to strengthen us or teach us a lesson. Whether it is shorter or longer than expected, there is purpose behind every friendship you will encounter throughout the course of your life. Lifelong friendships are rare but real. Don’t be discouraged when a friendship ends; instead evaluate what that friendship taught you and how you can become better because of it. Ultimately, you have the choice to hold on or let go of the friendships in your life. Sometimes, through prayer and godly counsel, letting go is the best option after you have tried your best to keep that friendship alive. A relationship consists of two individuals reaching out and making an effort to remain friends.
Experience #7: No matter what, ALWAYS guard your heart.
Proverbs 4:23 advise us to guard our heart above all else, for it determines the course of our life (NLT). Some of us are more concerned about protecting materialistic things like shoes, purses, cars etc. rather than our heart in which God desires to dwell in. Our heart should be protected like we protect our skin from the radiating heat of the sun we encounter on a daily basis. When we go to the beach, we understand that too much exposure to the sun can potentially cause skin cancer or painful sunburn. The key to protecting our heart from potential heartbreak or worldly corruption is having an understanding of the potential mess and consequences of choosing not to guard our heart.
Experience #8: Truly, there is purpose behind every “Why?”
We have all asked ourselves the “Why?” question. Some of us have asked it more than once. And that’s OK! EVERYTHING we go through or experience, whether good or bad is for a GREATER purpose than what we could ever understand in that moment of “Why?” Trust that you don’t have to know the Why; you simply need to know the Who-God.
Experience #9: Amazing things happen outside your comfort zone.
Who doesn’t enjoy being comfortable? Being comfortable feels good but it doesn’t end good. People who choose to remain comfortable in any area of their life are also choosing to settle and settling is never OK with God. We were created to thrive and live a life of victory and victory requires hard work. Trust me, although being comfortable feels good, the effects of getting out of your comfort zone feel a lot better!
Experience #10: Your rejection is for someone else.
Ouch! Reminiscing my rejection experiences remind me of how painful it was. However, it also reminds me of God’s love and protection over me and for those whom I had yet to encounter and will encounter in the future. Rejection hurts bad, it makes you feel unworthy, not good enough or unqualified. Its effects are nothing but lies from the dirty devil! Next time you experience rejection (because it will happen more than you think), remind yourself that God is protecting you from the unknown and unconsciously guiding you into His divine appointments for you!
Experience #11: Prayer is powerful!
Often times we tell people we will pray for them but let’s be honest, we forget for whatever reasons. Prayer is powerful when we intentionally pursue it and not just entertain it. There’s a big difference between saying we’re going to pray about it and when we actually do what we say. Doing is better than saying and doing without saying is even better! Next time you feel like praying, just do it!
Experience #12: Diversity is beautiful.
Growing up in a small border town with Mexico did not introduce me yet alone teach me about diversity. On the contrary, it taught me the importance of diversity. When I moved to San Antonio I was introduced to a variety of cultures and population dynamics. In addition, I made some phenomenal friends that are significantly different than me and I LOVE it! I’ve learned that diversity empowers one another and even challenges us to work together for the greater good. I encourage you to seek out the good in others especially those who are different than you.
Experience #13: Comparison is equivalent to poison.
I’ve never been poisoned and hope I never will. But I know the dangers of poison and what it can do to the human body. Poison can potentially kill you! Similarly, comparison works the same way except comparison kills you spiritually and hinders what God desires to do through you. It can be easy to compare yourself to others when your focus is not on Christ or things above. Choose to redirect your focus daily.
Experience #14: God loves you uniquely.
My whole life I believed God loved his children the same until I read Lisa Bevere’s newest book Without Rival. In her book she breaks down the definition of unique and elaborates on God’s unique love for you. “God uniquely created your DNA and knit your frame in secret so he could surprise the world. He authored how your heart expresses itself; he was the architect of your smile and the melody of your voice; he made all of your features with the fondest thoughts of only you in mind.” LOVE THIS! You are uniquely loved and everything that you go through or experience is for a unique purpose that only you can play a part in. I encourage you to get a copy of her book and allow God to transform the way you see yourself and the way you believe He sees you.
Experience #15: Your greatest challenges come from the unexpected
Yay for challenges! Said no one ever! Some people certainly like challenges; others are not too fond of them. However, challenges stretch us and make us better individuals. Often times, challenges present themselves through unexpected people or circumstances. I believe that’s what challenges are all about. Dealing with the unexpected is what promotes us to godly character.