Today I turn 20. As the flood of “Happy Birthday!” posts roll into my notifications, I’m in awe of how many languages, nicknames, memories, and encouraging words are being poured into my soul. (If you know me well, you know my love language is words of affirmation, so birthdays are especially fun for me. Yes, please keep telling me how wonderful you think I am. No, I won’t get tired of it.)
Over the last 20 years I’ve become a very pensive person (some might call it “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad over-thinker” but we’ll just go with “pensive”). I love to analyze things, situations, and even people (sorry…I’m working on that one); picking them apart until all the pieces are laying out on the ground for me drool over. I love theorizing about why things happen, or why they don’t. What could be different, how things have affected people, and what to do with those things. The good, the bad, and everything in between. It’s all worth something to me.
As someone who studies families and people, I tend to take what I’ve learned and analyze my own life. I’ll do this on a regular day, but turning 20 hit me more than I anticipated. Every morning I brew some coffee and sit down to journal and talk to Jesus. This morning my heart bubbled over with emotion as I mulled over all the things that I’ve experienced in my 20 years. A led to B, B led to C, C led to D… you get the idea. It was like I was seeing a movie of my life for the first time. Every scene was a new point in my chronological timeline, and it all connected and made sense.
I always tell people that I love sharing my testimony because you can see God’s fingerprints all over my story–my story is really His story. I was overcome with gratitude this morning for the good, the bad, and everything in between. It’s all worth something to me.
I won’t share my entire story on this blog, simply because it would take too long. If you’re interested in hearing it, please message me and know I am always willing to share. But, this morning as I scribbled the details of my life into my journal, every experience seemed to intertwine itself into the heartbeat of who I am. If A wouldn’t have happened, then B would’ve never happened…A was hard, but I really loved B. Everything made sense. We all have these “A’s and B’s”.
If I was never a stranger in somebody else’s country, I don’t know if I would be able to truly empathize with people who are different than me the way I can now.
If I never learned about empathy while living overseas, I’m not sure I would be pursuing a career in counseling (which is a huge part of who I am today and who I want to be).
If I never lived in the places that seemed unbearable at the time, I don’t know if I would have learned how to put my trust in Jesus in the same way I am still learning how to.
If I was never bullied, I don’t think I would be a strong advocate for young women the way I am now.
If my safety was never put into jeopardy, I know for fact I would’ve never had a reason to go to boarding school in Germany…
If I never went to boarding school, I would not be the same Hannah Jane.
If I never lived in a sexist environment, I’m not sure I would know how to defend myself and my intelligence the way I do now (and am still learning how to do).
If I never endured incredible loneliness, I don’t know if I would be able to rely on God’s faithfulness the way I’m learning how to.
**I believe God is bigger than my life and that He could’ve taught me these things and brought me to the places I’ve been through many different routes… I do believe you can learn things like empathy, trust in God, and empowerment no matter where you live or what you go through. This is just how God used the events in my life to teach me these things.**
And through all of this, I notice a consistent pattern. Dry seasons turn into fulfilling seasons. Seasons where I’m not sure how to trust in God transform into seasons of God proving me wrong every single day–that He is faithful and trustworthy. Seasons of weight that blossom into seasons of freedom. God proves Himself still there, never changing, through every cycle. As I look back on each phase of life, God has used every single tear, and every single fit of laughter to knit me into the woman I am today, 20 years later. Nothing goes to waste. Not in my life, and not in yours. How sweet to know that we don’t go through hard times just because “life is unfair”. We may not always know why, but we can always put our hope in the sovereignty of God–that He is good, even when life is not. That He is faithful, even when we feel abandoned. That He is loving and just, and will use every season for His glory and our growth.
All day this verse has been touching my heart: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11
How encouraging to know that God made this promise to His people. The words don’t promise an easy or happy life, but they promise that God will use our lives as a way to tell of His glory–and that it will be beautiful…in its time. This is what I think of when I look at my life. That God has not wasted a single day of my life to tell the story of His glory. He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Friends, I hope you find hope knowing that your pain is worth the joy that comes in the morning. I hope you feel peace knowing that someday your struggle will be a good story. It will become a lovely piece of the picture God is painting of you. It will be beautiful…in its time.
All the love,