the biggest lessons of my 20s

On Sunday, I was leading my summer discipleship group, which, honestly, sometimes I feel like they're teaching me more than I'm teaching them, and they asked me what the biggest lesson of my 20s has been. 

There are hundreds, was my first thought.

This decade has shaped me and changed me in ways I never could have imagined when I graduated college. I have shed more tears, laughed harder and found more adventure than I ever could have dreamed of. I have experienced happiness and sorrow that my heart couldn't have fathomed at 22.

{Here I am at 16 with my sisters. So young, so unaware of what this life would bring!}

There are officially five (!) weeks until I turn 29. The fast approaching birthday is putting pressure on me in a different way than I anticipated. I expected to feel worried that I'm not engaged or married or pregnant or a home owner. But instead, I feel pressure to make the most of the last 365 days of my 20s. This decade has been so important, special and beautiful. I want the last year to reflect all it has meant to me and do my 20s justice.

I'm not sure, exactly, how I will make that happen.

However, I thought I'd share the best lessons I've learned from my 20s as we near 29. I'll post one each week for the next five weeks. And then, I'll turn 29! :)

One of the greatest things I've learned in my 20s has actually been something I've begun to practice in the last few months:

Assume people have good intentions. 

When someone says something that gives you pause
Or sends a text that is standoffish
When someone forgets to call you
Or a store associate is less than friendly

Instead of assuming these people are out to get you or intending to hurt you, assume they have good intentions. Give them grace. Don't assume the "OK." text meant "That's the worst idea ever." Instead assume that they mean that what you said was OK.

In doing this, I've learned to feel less like a victim and less like the day-to-day things that happen are dramatic. The cashier didn't hate me. Instead, she was having a bad day and didn't want to be at work. Or perhaps she was really tired. The curt emails have become less about me and more about the person sending them.

Because, after all, most of the time, how people treat us has a lot more to do with them than it does us. 

Assume that the people of this world are good and kind. You might find yourself surprised at how often you are right.

If you are in a relationship where someone is emotionally or verbally abusive, unkind, treats you poorly or any other instance that is harmful to you, please do not employ this tactic. This is something that should be used in healthy, whole relationships.