rejoice always

In 8th grade I couldn't wait for high school. I wanted the challenging classes, the higher level of sports, the expanded pool of potential friends. I wasn't satisfied with my class of 16 students. I wanted more.

I enjoyed high school for awhile, but quickly grew to see how totally immature everyone was. (Get over yourself, 16-year-old Emily. You're not better than everyone else just because you read Anna Karenina.) I wanted lively debates, intellectual conversation, the freedom of college life, and and even more expanded pool of potential friends (although the joke was on me - my college was smaller than my high school).

When I arrived at college, I reveled in the ability to go to McDonalds at 2 in the morning without having to tell anyone where I was going. Never mind the fact that my parents and I had a trusting relationship when I was in high school and they never gave me an official curfew. I was free! Free! But, then I started getting bored there, too. The classes weren't challenging enough, the winter was too long (ok, I stand by that gripe), and the city was too small. I needed to travel, expand my horizons with fascinating new characters and stories of adventure.

After graduating college, Justin and I got married and moved to Minnesota. I felt anxious that I didn't have enough friends my age. I felt my youth slipping away, and desperately tried to cling to it. I didn't want to be tied down, and I didn't want to become boring. I was so worried about what others thought of my life that I couldn't truly enjoy it.

That is the attitude I sustained for a good decade of my life. I have since repented of my ungrateful attitude, but I don't regret it. I don't regret it because I have learned so much from that period of my life. I have grown and changed.

Our culture calls it FOMO, I believe. Fear Of Missing Out. And I had it long before social media became a part of my life. I have always been an avid reader, and because of that, I was terrified of living a normal life - a life not worth writing about or reading about. I feared I would miss out on the best education. I feared I would miss out on the friendships and relationships. I feared I would miss out on travel, and all the life lessons that come with it.

But the funny thing is, even as I was fearing missing out, I was experiencing all those things. I learned so much, I had many great friendships, and I saw a multitude of unforgettable locations.

For the first time in my life, I am in a place of gratitude. I am in a season of ease and abundance. I no longer look at life as a competition to see who can accomplish the most or travel the most or learn the most.

I have everything I need and more.

He has blessed me in ways I could never have imagined. I could never have planned this life. I could never have dreamed up the circumstances that would make me this content. God knows me better than I know myself. He knows what I need even when I'm praying for the opposite.

And I know that if all of this went away in an instant, I would still have a God worth praising.

Life is good, friends. We certainly go through seasons of hardship and sadness. I have my own struggles, too. But those struggles aren't worth comparing to the glory God has in store for us. Our joy in in the knowledge of our salvation - what God has done for us. The earthly blessings are icing on the cake!

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:4-7)

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