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What I Learned before Turning 30: Investing in Others

young women talking over coffee

I turned 30 this month. When I turned 29, I searched for one of those “30 Things to Do before Turning 30” lists. However, my search left me uninspired; therefore, I decided to write my own “30 Things I Learned before Turning 30” list. One of the main concepts that came from this was that of investing in other people. The following are a few excerpts from my list:

Growing Deeper in Relationships

Growing Deeper

Picture this: You’ve just met someone new and you’re really excited to get to know them and become friends. Over the next few weeks, you learn more about this person, but in small fragments. You find yourself wishing you were already close friends with this person because you can tell how wonderfully you would get along and how much you would have in common. But it just seems as if you’ll never get there.

Have you ever felt this way? I have. There’s even an unofficial word for it. John Koenig created an online dictionary of words to fill in “holes” in the English language—to give us a sense that we are not alone in some of the ways we feel and think. Koenig describes the “frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone” as adronitis. Do you feel better after hearing that a word semi-exists for this feeling? The thought calms me.

Where 2 or 3 Are Gathered

friends on a bench

I am so blessed and grateful to have loving friends who take time to be intentional and invest in my life. These Christ-centered relationships are incredibly meaningful and encourage me to pour into others. My sweet friend Anna, who is a junior in college, is passionate about building these kinds of authentic relationships, so I asked her to share some of her thoughts and experiences:

Why do you think it is important to grow deeper in relationships?

“Thinking back to my middle school [years], high school [years], and even first years at college, I see how much I was poured into. I’m so grateful to have had such incredible people around me that wanted to invest in me, but I also know the gaps that I felt were not as invested in. I needed people who would ask questions until I was finally open and honest about what was truly going on. I needed people who would send that quick text of encouragement that perfectly matched what I was dealing with. I needed older mentors who would prioritize spending time with me because they wanted to be available for me.”

What are some ways you intentionally invest in friendships?

The Impact of a Friend

two women having coffee

As we look at this month’s focus on relationships, I am drawn to think of how our commitment to friendships impacts missions. When Jesus sent out His disciples on their first missionary journey, He sent them out 2 by 2. We need each other. Even in missions, God wants us to have someone to travel with, to share with, and to do missions with.

I remember Michelle, a friend of mine in a past season of missions. We were ministry partners. We prayed before each house we visited and held each other accountable for spiritual goals. One time when my husband was out of town and I was ill, she stayed with me until I had enough strength to take care of my children. God used her in my life for 5 years until He moved us to another place of service.

Loosening Our Grip on Time for the Gospel

young woman holding pocket watch

One of the first differences you learn about when you’re living in a different culture is how people value time.

In the United States, we love schedules and strictly adhere to them. We spend money on agendas and apps that will help us manage our time. We make sure we’re on time for meetings and lunch dates with friends, because being late says we don’t value other people’s time.

South Asia, on the other hand, is completely different. Being late is OK, whether just a few minutes or a few hours. Things don’t always start at the time they’re scheduled. Getting from one place to another on time is a daily challenge due to traffic in some places.

South Asians don’t value their relationships any less because they’re late or because they see time differently. In fact, they might value them more than Americans. For them, spending time with people, no matter the hour or what they have going on later in the day, is important.

As followers of Jesus, spending time with people should be just as important to us. No matter our culture, people whom we’re close with but who are far from a relationship with Jesus should be those we are investing in regularly.

Sacred Space: Margin in Motherhood

mom and daughter playing

When I was in my early 20s, I stayed busy all the time. If I had downtime, then I felt lazy. Each hour of each day was planned and filled accordingly.

The main issue with this is that each hour of each day filled to the brim leaves little room for interruptions. When we are in relationships with people, interruptions happen. When we have children, more and more and more interruptions occur.

After living in a South Asian culture where relationships take priority over everything and then having 2 babies, I have learned that not every hour of every day needs to be planned in such a way that I cannot allow for interruptions.

It’s in these interruptions that I have found some of the deepest relationships, the most treasured memories with my children, and gospel-centered conversations simply because I was able to add a little margin in my schedule and life to welcome a disruption.

When You Just Can’t Seem to Find the Time for Relationships

young woman checking watch

Relationships are one of the greatest gifts God has given us. God has created us to be relational beings—first in a relationship with Him and then in relationship with each other. Relationships bring blessing and joy into our lives and provide us with the love and support we have been designed to need. But often we find ourselves struggling to balance deep friendships and the busyness of life. Consider these 3 practical ways to make time for relationships.

Recommend a reoccurrence.

Relationships deepen as we regularly walk through life together. A great way to do this is to set fixed times so that every week (or month) at this particular time you know you will be meeting. Ask a friend or group of friends to meet regularly with you, even if those meetings are at odd times. The scheduling may be difficult, but the payoff will be great.

Mobilize the mundane.

5 Tips to Strengthen Relationships

young women at park

God established the idea of community in the Garden of Eden, and this theme is woven throughout the Bible. But if relationships are so foundational to Christian life, why do we often struggle with them? There is no easy answer, but we can take some steps to improve and invest in our friendships.

Transform your mind-set. Instead of seeing relationships as time-consuming or difficult, consider how they can enrich your life. Since American culture places such a large emphasis on timeliness and productivity, it is easy to forget to make time for others. To change this mind-set, it is helpful to remember that God sees each person as precious and worthy. When developing relationships, it is essential to embrace this mentality. People are important, and spending time in fellowship with others helps you learn and grow.

Be present. When you spend time with people, remove distractions. Put your phone away, and try to go somewhere without TVs or loud music. Slowing down and unplugging from technology allows you to engage in the current moment and demonstrates respect for your relationship.

Missions at Easter

It is a blessing to be a part of what God is doing in missions through WMU. As we prepare for the season of remembering Christ at Easter, we know the power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead is at work in our world today. We are drawn to love, to be light, to reach out, to share Christ, and to overcome darkness in His name. This is missions. This is our call.

I love that the offering for North American missions received at this time of year is named for Annie Armstrong. Miss Annie lived out the call of the gospel. She was a force of God’s love and power in Southern Baptist life in 1888, when she helped begin WMU.

Her biography illustrates her belief in the power of the gospel and the strength of cooperating together. She believed steadfastly in the important role of women in God’s kingdom, to serve and use their gifts for God’s glory. She loved the vulnerable and sought to go the extra mile to see God’s work accomplished. She is known for her untiring work for immigrants in Baltimore, where she lived; for Native Americans; and for women missionaries such as Lottie Moon in China.

Showing and Telling the Gospel

“What was it like growing up with the boy Jesus?”

My home church pastor posed that question as I listened to his sermon via live stream from the comfort of my bedroom a few thousand miles away.

It’s an interesting thought, being one of Jesus’ brothers or friends when He was a kid, before His ministry started. Being the friend or sibling of someone Who was always perfect, Whose words always matched His actions, was probably not an easy thing.

Making our own words and actions match isn’t easy either. Because we’re striving to be more like Jesus daily but still going to sin sometimes, we’re prone to mess up and show the people we’re trying to share with that we don’t always reflect the gospel.

Despite the mess-ups we have, isn’t that the message of the gospel? We are imperfect people striving to love a perfect God, which is made possible by the One Who knew no sin, the One Whose words and actions always communicated the gospel.

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