When people graduate from college or graduate school, we’re often greeted with the phrase, “Welcome to the real world.”
The response is usually, “Thank you,” or “Right on,” or “Uh, what?”
That phrase, as congratulatory as people tried to be when they said it, never fully resonated with me. Has my existence up to this point not been “real”? What defines the “real world”? Do we begin living a “real life” with the first full-time job we get? When we move out? Get married? Start a family?
How We Measure Worth
One’s independence, finances and career usually define this idea of the real world in modern society: Some would call it “adulting.” These milestones have a tendency to cast a shadow over the more central question: How are you measuring your worth?
Is it being measured through family? How successful the children are or how happy my family is? Is it through career? In how financially successful I am? Through my job satisfaction? My integrity and character? Through how great I see myself as a person?
Is it through church? How many people God has touched through my leadership?
All of these different factors are considered to be living a “worthy life.” But for many, none of that really resonates.
As a young adult in my early 20s, the post-college struggle to meet and exceed society’s expectations is very real.
I returned home after numerous rejections from publishing companies and failed writing endeavors with dreams of changing the world and impacting society in a new and different way. The harsh realities of competition, financial burdens and my inexperience kept me from sprouting wings and flying away. When things didn’t work out with publishing, I struggled to find a new career path, a way to use the degree I spent four years working toward and paying for.
I’ve beaten myself with self-doubt and the pressures to make something of myself while struggling to understand what it means to actively wait on God’s timing. Yes, I understand life needs to happen at my own pace, but can’t I control what I’m doing? Can’t I control my passions and my success?
The answer is no.
Waiting on God
Though I wish I could avoid the waiting and have God just tell me in some mind-blowing way exactly what career path He wants me to take, I see that during these times of waiting is when God shapes my perspective and gives me room to grow in His presence. Though I saw how broken the world was outside, it wasn’t until I returned back home that I realized how broken my own household was and how much I could be used serving at my home church. God didn’t close doors to shut me out, but to open my eyes to what He was seeing, to His calling for me at this time.
Wherever you are in life, whether you think you’re winning at adulting or still making your transition to the real world, life is happening as it always has been happening, just perhaps not in the way you expect.
Your journey is legitimate, no matter what road you find yourself on.
There is no such thing as a wasted life as long as we are always moving with our eyes set on furthering Christ’s Kingdom whether it’s at home or out in the world. To God, it’s all the same. What He is interested in is our heart, and He puts us into situations and places where we can grow most with Him.
Life as a Christian is not about what you do or how you do it. It’s about your relationship with Christ.
When I take my eyes off of Him, I sink into despair and anxiety and depression. When I compare myself to non-Christians with better jobs, nicer homes and more worldly freedom, I suddenly focus on how much I wish I had. My circumstances will never be good enough according to the world. But when God says, “Come to me now” and I walk through the storm with my eyes focused solely on Him, everything else becomes secondary and I can trust that He knows what He is doing.
Though your situation as a young adult might not fulfill society’s expectations, God wants you to soak Him in and find your self-worth in Him and through His eyes, not your own.
You are valuable because God values you, and nothing you do can add or take away from that truth.
That is what it means to live a “real” life with God.