I turned seventeen this past Sunday – on April second, two-thousand seventeen.
If you don’t know me personally, you may not have known my age until now.
And it’s not as if it’s a secret – I simply decided a while ago that I didn’t want people to judge me or my writing on my age alone, or have to try and explain when I mention school that I’m a college student, even though I’m supposed to be a high school student, and kind of still am for a few more months.
But something hit me really hard last week. I was talking to some college friends, and coming to the realization that the average age of the majority of my friends is around twenty years old.
And it’s funny – because I joke about it all the time, the fact that I forget that I’m not twenty, myself.
But it’s more than just a joke.
After spending almost an entire week discussing everything under the sun with a dear friend, a friend that’s my own age, I realized how important it was that I don’t forget that I’m only seventeen.
I’ll only ever be seventeen once.
During a conversation last week, I caught myself saying something that I hadn’t completely thought through until I heard myself speak it.
I said, “I’m realizing that I’m at a different place in my life than the majority of you – and my views on things have to be a little different than yours are. Because that’s a good, healthy thing.”
I’m not twenty.
I’m not graduating from college anytime soon, honestly.
I don’t need to worry about careers or apartments or life insurance right now.
I don’t need to worry about marriage, because I’m nowhere near ready — which means I don’t think it’s right for me to be dating right now, either.
And it’s not like I don’t desire those things; not at all. I look forward to the days of dressing up for a job I love, signing on a home to call my own, and having a husband and children.
But I know full-well that those things are not for me right now. I must wait for them, for I am not ready for them nor they for me.
I’m seventeen, not twenty, or twenty-five, or thirty-two.
Those years will come, Lord willing, along with those opportunities that I desire. But they’re not for right now — and I’m slowly learning that it’s a good thing.
Seventeen means a lot of things for me right now, and I don’t want to get so caught up in the future that I forget to live in today.
It’s so easy to take today for granted, to mentally live for tomorrow, for that next thing.
It’s easy for me to dream of a life I don’t have, a life I think I want, and feel dissatisfied in the life I’m living because I can’t have that life now.
I don’t want to be dissatisfied; I want to be content in anything and everything, messes and all, right where I am.
And as I pondered yesterday with another group of friends: when we make contentment about getting the next best thing, that once we do blank we’ll finally be content, we miss what contentment is about in the first place.
It’s about having joy in the here and now, regardless of possessions, of situations, of opportunities or relationships or lack thereof.
Ultimately, it’s about Jesus.
It’s focusing on Him above all else, seeing what He has done, His love that outweighs all of our sin, His perfection lavished upon us, His sacrifice that shows us how fierce, how high, how deep, and how vast His love is.
It’s about seeing the greater work of salvation in our lives, the significance of that, and how it majorly overshadows any other thing that we might (and do) desire.
Contentment is about joy in salvation, in grace, and friendship with God, even when we’re not bubbling over with happiness, because this relationship far outweighs all others.
When I tie my personal contentment to how I imagine my future home will look, to those Latin words on my college degree, to the fantasies of the size of my paycheck, to my ideas of #relationshipgoals – I’m always going to come up disappointed. Because even when those things do seem to work out, there will always be something more.
And I don’t want to live for that one more thing.
I want to live in this moment, this day, this year of being seventeen that God has given me.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
I want to embrace seventeen this year; I’ll only be at this place once.
I may only have these opportunities for this year.
I want to serve God with the person I am today, not the future Amanda who may or may not be what I imagine her to be.
I’m not perfect, and I never will be, and nor will I ever live the so-called “perfect life.”
I choose this year to live the life God gives me – to be the person that He wants me to be right now – to follow Him where He leads me at seventeen, twenty, thirty-three, and fifty-one. And forever.
I’ll only be seventeen once, and there is a reason for that.
I have unique opportunities this year that I may never have ever again.
I have people in my life to encourage, I have words that need writing, a family that needs loving, a church that needs tending, an education that needs pursuing, books that need reading, knowledge that needs attaining – and this year is a good year to begin.
So what will I do in the meantime, in this waiting period?
I will not sit idly by, and wait to arrive at my future; waiting must always be active.
I will serve God, my family, and my friends.
I will seek to become who God has for me to be, to follow the Holy Spirit and let Him grow me and bring fruit into my life.
I will learn to love others now, even when it’s difficult, uncomfortable, and I’m uneasy.
I will learn to be patient, and to let God bring me to where He wants me to be, not just where I think I should be.
I will learn to listen, not just speak.
I will learn to live out grace, every day, extending it to others, just as God extends it to me.
I will embrace seventeen, and not try to run from it.
The future will come – but I am learning to be content right here and now.
And I’m looking with exhilaration to seeing what this year will bring.