on life's hardest times

Something I've noticed about my 20s is that time seems to stand still and flash before my eyes all at once. While I'm in certain harder periods (say 25 or single or bored), life can feel like it goes on forever. But then, when I look back, it feels like everything changes so quickly. 

Friends go from single to married in less than a year. They get pregnant. And move to new cities. And go on mission trips. And go to grad school. And take on new jobs.

And before we know it, everything has changed in the blink of an eye. And I wonder why I ever wanted to hurry so badly to begin with. 

I can tell you, very clearly, which times in my 20s I thought would never end:
1) After a terrible breakup at 24 - leading into my 25th year, which was the year I thought I'd be getting engaged.
2) Last spring when I felt alone and pretty lost. 

They are small spans of time that lasted only a few months but feel like some of the longest periods of my 20s.

But you know what else? They are also some of the most significant. There is something so, so beautiful about those times. Yes, I felt broken and confused. But I also grew so much. I learned more about who I am and what I want out of life. I figured out what I really believe. And I learned to believe in myself. It stretched me so much more than the good times. And it made me so much more grateful for the good. 

It's funny, when you talk to women - especially older women who have experienced more adversity - when they get to talking about life, it's so often the hard times they mention. The times when they had to buckle down and go it alone and grit their teeth. Those are the times that grow us the most. 

At 24, I thought I was ready to marry my then-boyfriend. And at 26, I felt pretty ready to meet my husband and get married. But you know what? I was wrong both times. I needed more time alone. I needed to grow more. And sort through some of my own issues. I needed to let go of the things I thought I'd always wanted and open my mind to more. 

I'm so glad I didn't get what I wanted at 21, 23 or 25. I'm so glad God had different plans than I did. I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I do know, for those of you who feel like life just isn't what you thought it would be: the darkest hour is before the dawn. Your heartache and disappointment will bend you, shape you, mold you and make you. But you know what? It won't break you.