29 Lessons I Learned in My Twenties

29 Lessons MIMSC

Yesterday was my last day in my twenties. As strange as it seems to let go of this decade (already?!), I am looking forward to my thirties and what the future holds.

This has been a wonderful, frustrating, identity shaping, and tear-jerker of a decade. As I approach thirty, I’m choosing to believe the best is yet to come. Looking back, here are some of the most important lessons I learned in my twenties.

1. You have issues. Start dealing with them.
We all have wounds from childhood and past relationships. The sooner you admit this and start working towards healing and wholeness, the more you will have to offer the world.

2. City life as a 20-something is a blast.
I finished college in Philly, lived five minutes outside of downtown Knoxville while working my first real job out of school, and spent the last five years living in Hoboken. With endless opportunities for entertainment, food, and culture right outside my door, it would have been had to imagine living this decade of my life anywhere else.

3. God is listening and speaks to us.
For years I threw my prayers in God’s direction, and walked away hoping God would later hunt me down and give me an answer. Over the last decade I’ve learned that there is greater value in being silent before God than talking God’s ear off.

4. Heartbreak is inevitable, but can be worth it.
It’s pretty much a guarantee that if you fall in love in your 20’s, you’re also likely to have your heart shattered. Still, taking a big leap for love to find out if its worth it (even if its not) can lead to learning your most important lessons.

5. You probably won’t land your dream job.
Most of us in our twenties think we will have “arrived” in our careers by now… even though we’ve been working for less than a decade. There are a lucky few of us who have, but the good news is the majority are still figuring out what’s next.

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How I Accidentally Ended Up A “Pastor’s Wife”

Originally published Jan 8, 2013

Lenzis Xmas 2012

God absolutely has a sense of humor. Have you heard that saying, “Want to make God laugh? Tell him about your plans?” Well, He has got to be belly-laughing right now. Not in a “Ha Ha! I told you so!” way, but in a loving, fatherly, shaking his head at the sometimes-smallness of my life’s vision kind of way.

This year has been a year of shifting dynamics and big, unexpected changes for the Lenzis, and the last month has not disappointed to carry on this theme. After three years of volunteer work with Hoboken Grace Community Church, Nick was recently offered a full time position to come on staff as Dinner Groups and Finance Director. We are excited about this opportunity and to see where God takes us with it, but I have to tell you, I also find it kind of hilarious.

Now, you have to understand why this is so funny to me. I grew up with a grandfather who was a preacher. When I was in eighth grade, my dad was called also into full-time pastoral ministry. I attended Bible college for my first two years of college, where I (not-so-secretly) hoped I would find a nice Christian youth ministry major who played guitar to settle down with. Some of the most important male figures in my life were in church ministry, so naturally my heart gravitated towards the idea. It was most of what I knew. But then I married Nick, a finance guy. I thought that we would “just” be happily volunteering lay people, working regular Monday through Friday jobs. Boy was I wrong!

In early 2008, as Nick moved to the New York City area to begin his finance career with a a well-known investment bank, I was one of his cheerleaders, encouraging him to find a church and was excited to hear about him starting to get involved in “The Church @ Hoboken,” a local church plant that was just getting up and running. Soon he got involved in one of the church’s dinner (i.e. small) groups, and being surrounded by wise men mature in their faith, Nick began to grow. As his friend, I was excited for him, but never thought this choice would have a direct effect on me.

But then, in a whirlwind of events, we started dating in the summer of 2008. I wouldn’t officially be Nick’s girlfriend after months of dating in large part because I didn’t think he had the spiritual leadership ability at the time. I had been following Jesus longer. I was a pastor’s kid. I held the guys I dated to a really (sometimes ridiculously) high standard. I could see that Nick had spiritual momentum – he was growing and headed in the right direction, but I didn’t think he could cut it as a boyfriend in leading us both in closer relationship with God.

As Nick and I made the awkward shift from a dating couple back to being friends, over the next year God used that time and space to break us both – to show us our true hearts and desires. When Nick came to visit me in Knoxville in the fall of 2009, everything changed. He was a different person. He had become the kind of person I had been praying to spend my life with. I was blindsided. And smitten. And the rest is history (still in the making).

Listen to Nick’s story in his own words here. (Click “playlist” and choose the third one down)

This year I am really excited for Nick and what possibilities it holds, but I have to admit this new season is somewhat daunting as well. I’m not some fresh-faced, naive pastor’s wife. I am a somewhat jaded pastor’s kid, raised with best friends who had parents in full-time ministry, and then I got to witness the beauty and the heartache of being a pastor’s family myself. Many of deepest wounds (and greatest joys) come from that experience. It’s hard to picture the future and wonder if my future family will experience the same heartache. Will it be worth it?

However, I can’t deny that after two years of living in Hoboken and almost two years of marriage, it has become clear that the intentional work God was doing in my heart towards this city this year was absolutely preparation for what He is doing next. Sometimes it has tempting to think, GOD, I worked so hard to get to where we are this year! Can’t I just keep my nice, comfortable life I fought for so hard? But that’s not the gospel. Not in the least. The gospel is uncomfortable. God requires sacrifice. He requires moving outside your comfort zone. He requires saying “yes!”

A life well lived is one that trusts our Father, knowing His plans are to prosper us and not to harm us (Jer. 29:11-13) and that He is able to do more than all we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20). Saying “yes!” to Nick’s proposal back in 2010 meant I was saying “yes!” to New York City and “yes!” to Hoboken – “Yes!” to a life poured out in whatever way He asked of me. Thus far, it has been hard but it has been worth it. The only option I have is to say “yes!,” continually surrendering my doubts and fears, knowing full well that I can trust God with whatever he has next up his sleeve.

What are you facing this year that might be simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating all at once?

A Summer of Anxious Hope and Rest

Headed to Governor's Island
Headed to NYC’s Governor’s Island with my “Roomies for Life”

This summer was far different from the one I imagined at the start of the year.

I hoped to spend it in grander ways, checking long-awaited goals off the list, like taking a lengthy vacation to Europe with my husband. But then, this spring, I parted ways with my job.

While it was a difficult situation, it was also a blessing. The summer kicked off by saying hello to the last year of my twenties. I attended a conference that reminded me of the basics of what it means to practice spiritual disciplines. Babysitting on the regular reminded of how much energy children require, but also how they delight your heart. I escaped from the busy city life and hiked multiple times.

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