I’m not sure where that line really was. When did I step over it? When did I drop the “young” from “young adult”? Somewhere in all of those life changes—college, career, apartments, bills, travels, marriage, cars, kids—I became a full-fledged adult. I’m not sure I’ve completely come to grips with that thought (but my eye doctor is trying to help me with that by pointing out I’ll need reading glasses soon).


And yet, I feel younger than ever. Oh no, I don’t mean physically. Twenty minutes playing Legos on the floor with the kids quickly reminds me of that. I mean everything internal. It’s true what they say…that the more you learn, the more you realize you have so much more to learn.


I wish I knew then what I know now. Back then, when I had those lofty dreams of what life would look like now. You know what I mean. The perfect marriage. The well-behaved kids memorizing the Bible cover to cover (while playing classic violin). The “American dream” house. And the dog sitting obediently by the white picket fence. And in the midst of it all, changing the world by the ministry that God picked me up and dropped me into, fully prepared to make my mark in this life.

Oh, how much I long to tell my younger self to change those expectations. Perfect marriage? No such thing. It’s HARD WORK to live with and love someone day in, day out. You are both broken people. Broken by sin and the sharp edges of this world. You’re scratched up by life, and you’re bound to scrape and cut one another with your own broken edges along the way.


And those perfect kids? Yup…they’re born into the same sin-nature, too. Why would you expect anything different? They will whine. They will throw tantrums. They will fight in the back seat on the way to church, and you will yell at them.



The house? Know that there will NEVER be a time ever again where all clothing items will be put in their proper place and all dishes will be clean. Ever. Laundry, dishes, and dust will consume more hours in your week than a full-time job. And that’s on top of a full-time job. Don’t forget the dog, either. The one who just chewed up the Arabian rug given to you as a wedding present and steals socks just for fun (creating more laundry).


And then there’s that world-altering ministry. You still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up! You haven’t actually prayed “the” prayer with one soul yet. You don’t see the masses coming to church because of your witness. Your boss doesn’t notice your value. You feel like a complete mess and a total failure.


If you build it they will come…right?

And that’s what I would tell my younger self.  I would say that’s exactly the point when you’re doing more for His kingdom than you would have ever guessed. Your life didn’t turn out the way you expected. And that’s a GOOD thing. You’re marriage, family, home, and ministry – they’re all a mess. And that makes you real. It makes you relate to the people around you who don’t know this perfect God yet. It makes you show your friends that God shows up in the messy marriages. It lets your neighbors know that He is present in the imperfect homes. And when you feel the most defeated in ministry is likely when the Deliverer is able to do His job the most miraculously.


Young adult self…let go of your expectations. Dream, but let the dreams have room for mess and chaos. Because that’s when the Creator shows up and shows off. Dig into the Word—NOW. Don’t wait until you have more time. Don’t wait until it makes more sense. Saturate your life with it right now. And, above all else, remember this whole thing called life is about His glory…not yours.


Cari Arias

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