Standing in line at the grocery store you look to your left at the magazine rack admiring young adults excelling in their field, already changing the world. To your right you watch others moving swiftly through the nearby grocery line. You distract yourself with your phone by scrolling through Facebook and see another engagement announcement, another friend received a job promotion, photos of your little sister’s new baby. You take a deep breath and a toddler screams in the cart behind you. You’re still two carts from the cashier. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. This should have been quick but you still find yourself floundering in the dreaded period of waiting.
Kelli Worrall first wrote an article for RELEVANT magazine called 20 Things I Wish I’d Known in My Late Twenties. Moody Bible Institute, the academic home of the married professors Kelli and Peter Worrall, were intrigued by the flood of positive responses from her article and the administration approached Kelli to write a book. 20 Things We’d Tell Our Twenty-Something Selves is the mutual effort of the Worralls, who poured their own trials, frustrations and realizations learned from their twenty-something selves.
The waiting is agonizing. You don’t need to be Sarah struggling with God’s long ago spoken prophesy yet to be fulfilled to find the waiting unbearable. You feel hard-pressed on every side. You are floundering in perplexity and though you aren’t persecuted the despair is seeping in.
A lot of pressure is placed on twenty year olds to figure out their lives and when each “milestone” will happen. Every generation is told they will change the world, but the difference between previous twenty-something generations is that more opportunities exist now than before.
“God not only created the waiting room, He inhabits it. It is actually the site of some of his most profound work,” the Worralls add in the book while offering a warning to not distract yourself with Godly work to the point that you aren’t actually growing. This seems to require a deft delicate balance between serving all you have for God and drowning yourself in service. Flooding your life with service for God can inflate your image and distract yourself from aspects of your life you aren’t happy about. And this is where waiting well comes into play.
Waiting well in a community of fellow Christians makes the waiting less unproductive. The twenties are not actually about marriage and babies and trying to force your expectations for your life to happen. Expectations are the plans we create and given higher importance than the plans God designed. The twenties are a time when you reflect on lessons learned and the experiences had and yet to come.
This book isn’t limited to 20 year olds as there is no single set of experiences every 20, 30, 40 year old and so on can check off their list. Certain experiences or realizations may never come into play until much later in life and that is where you can learn how to look back at your own living and see where you can learn and apply lessons to where you currently are in life. Peter Worrall recalled a time he taught fifth graders the book of Genesis and one boy grumbled aloud “But I’ve done Genesis.”
Worrall explained that reading a section of the Bible doesn’t mean you learned it all. You can’t deplete it of its nourishment. You are never done learning because you are forever growing in your relationship with Christ.
“The wisest people are the people who don’t just try to forge forward and pretend they know everything but they move forward and they circle back and talk to be people who are learning the first time through and they remember what they’d forgotten,” Peter Worrall said. Finding a community of Christians who can hold you accountable, challenge your faith and guide you to wait well are key to becoming the person God sees in you.
When your journey stalls or doesn’t go as expected, take the time to turn your focus to God for He knows the steps you’ll take because He always patiently waits for you to turn back to Him. The wait can seem pointless and embarrassing but when you submit to this time of preparation you can become a blessing to God and a blessing to others.