23 Years - 276 Months - 1,200 Weeks - 8,400 Days - 201,614 Hours - 12,096,840 Minutes 

This is the length of the time I have seen so far. Kind of weird to see in numerical form. 

Today, I am 23. What can I say? It's been a crazy whirlwind so far, yet it seems like its taken so long to get to this point. I can definitely say that where I am today is not at all where I expected or hoped to be by the age of 23. 

You know how growing up most of us always dreamed of where we'd be in the future? What type of person will I be when I reach this age or that? How will I be so completely different than who I am now? In a world where so many expectations are placed upon us, it's easy to unintentionally place expectations on ourselves! It got me thinking, what kind of expectations did I place on myself for when I turn 23 and have I met them? 

I feel like when I turned 18 I came up with some form of a game plan full of expectations I wanted to reach in my future. I don't know if anyone else had a similar moment in life at a certain age. For me, I am a planner so coming to a point where I planned out my entire life was something I was eager to do. I remember sorting all my thoughts, desires, and dreams into the file cabinet of my head trying to come up with the perfect timing in my life. When should be the perfect time I go to college? When should be the perfect time I fall in love? When should be the perfect time I get married? When should be the perfect time I have kids? etc. etc. 

It's actually quite funny to think back on some of these expectations and hopes I placed upon myself. What makes it so funny is that I feel like none of these expectations have been fulfilled. For instance, I remember placing an expectation on myself to try to graduate college by the time I was 21. However, through the journey I easily traded school to go on crazy and fun adventures with God by dropping everything to pursue Him and trust Him in going to Costa Rica for a DTS with YWAM. I threw the expectation of being graduated at 23 out the window. Now, I am still currently pushing through school and eagerly awaiting my graduation date. . . two years from now. 

Here's another funny instance, I remember placing an expectation on myself to be married before the age of 23. I always expected that I would already be married to a beautiful and great wife before I ever reached this age because, let's all be honest, to an 18 year old mind, 23 is just getting a little too old to still be single. In my mind, I always wanted to find love at a young age, give it my all and marry a beautiful woman. Funny thing about that expectation is that I threw that out the window too. For the past 3 years nearly I have actually chosen (Yep, you read correctly, CHOSEN) to be single. I had 3 years to push through to meet this goal of fulfilling the wife-hunt. But I gave it all up. Instead, I have spent the past 3 years pushing into my relationship with God and even though pursuing a woman is still heavy on my heart, I have given up the expectation of being married by a certain point in my life. 

Another expectation that I always had for when I reached 23 was to have my struggles and sins disappear. I always hoped that they'd just magically go away so I would never have to deal with the confusion, pain, and chaos they bring. However, today many of the same struggles and sins continue leaving the expectation far from met. 

Remembering these expectations and seeing how some of my biggest expectations I placed on myself have yet to be met was initially very discouraging. I have to admit, satan has already attempted to steal joy today by reminding me of the time plan I created - my perfect timing - that has never played out. It is threatening to make me feel like a failure and to make me feel like I haven't spent the past five years working toward the things I want. My plan has failed. 

My perfect timing has failed and maybe I should feel upset about that, but you know what? I am not upset about it all. I have come to learn that God's timing is never how we plan, hope, or expect it to be. After seeking to fulfill my plans for so long, a shift happened and I began to find my trust placed in God & His timing. Every plan I have made and tried to fulfill on my own strength has failed in these past 23 years. But since I have come to surrendering to God's perfect timing and plan, all expectations have been thrown out the window. 

I am so glad that today, as a 23 year old, I am not graduated but still attending college. If I had my way and had been graduated by this point, who knows where I'd be in life? However, I do know that I wouldn't have gotten through school debt free like I am now. Because of God's perfect timing, I am able to afford school at this age whereas I couldn't afford it when I was 18. With school paid in full, I will be graduating sometime in two years and the best part about it is I will be completely debt free. Yes, I will be nearly 26, but I'd rather be graduating at the age of 26 than graduating with the debt of $26,000+. God works in mysterious ways and His timing is crazy, but I can't help to feel so content in where I am along the lines of my education. 

I am so glad that today, as a 23 year old, I am still single and unmarried. If I had my way and had gotten married, I know I would have been settling on someone who I didn't find worth it or someone who just would't be a great match for me. My desperation would have gotten the best of me and I would have made a forever promise to someone that my flesh wanted so desperately to be married to and who knows, I could have been very unhappy being married to a wife who deserves so much better than anything I would have ever given her. However, being single these past 3 years, God has taught me so much about myself and my identity. Not only that but He has given me a healthy perspective on how to pursue a woman.

Throughout this time my heart has grown so much and the desire has ignited stronger than ever before to be a husband, but even still I have been remaining single. I'm not a big person who believes in "wait until the time is 'right'" so I'm not waiting until I feel "ready". However, I am also not a person who believes in settling for someone out of desperation. I am far from desperate because I have all I need in Christ, but I have a huge desire to pursue a woman working towards a marriage. God has taught me a lot of patience and I am so thankful that His perfect timing has me exactly where I am today at the age of 23. Patiently awaiting for someone to fight for; someone I wouldn't feel settled to be with, but someone who I want to fight for to be with. I'd much rather fight for someone wholeheartedly rather than settle to be married before the age of 23. I am so content with where my love life lies, in the hands of Jesus. I trust Him with that. I trust Him more than I trust myself with my love life. And that makes me feel content. 

Finally, I am so glad that today, as a 23 year old, my sins and struggles are not magically removed from me. If I had my way and all of my struggles and ugly parts of life were erased forever, I know that I would have been so much worse off than I was with the sin to begin with. If this expectation had been met by today, then my need for Jesus would essentially be nonexistent. I would have depended on some weird power or even on myself to have no struggling sins in my life. However, I am so thankful that God changed this perspective and expectation shifting my focus to see that having struggle and sin allows us to depend and rely on God & His truth.

Yes, there are still some things I struggle with today, and new sins are always being revealed to me as time progresses, but what I love is the fact that Christ died for my sins even though I never did, do, or will deserve it. I love how God forgives us and keeps no record of wrong doing. I love how He empowers us with His strength and encourages us letting us know that He is helping us overcome our struggles and sins. I love how He surrounds us with people to keep us accountable; people who push us closer to Him. No, my sins haven't been magically removed and the struggles remain, but I am so content with this because I know with such confidence how God has forgiven me and is constantly empowering me and helping to overcome. He has grown a dependence within me depending on Him to bring freedom, depending on Him to forgive, depending on Him to empower, and depending on Him for strength to overcome. I would much rather depend on Christ and His saving power because of my sinful heart than to have no sin whatsoever thus resulting in no need for Christ. I am so content with the dependence I have in Jesus to help overcome my struggles and sin and there's no way I'd want to change that. 

With that, today I am 23. And I am filled with so much excitement, joy, and peace being able to recognize how God has truly transformed my heart, mind, and soul. Yes, many expectations are left unmet today, many goals have failed, and many time has seemingly been wasted. But in reality, God has taught me how to release my expectations I have placed on myself and has shown me that I can trust in His perfect timing instead of trusting in my own. . . even though His timing is nothing we expect, hope, or feel that we want. But here I am at 23 and all I can recognize is the fact that God is brilliant in His timing and knows what we truly need. I am so content today with where God has brought my life. 

Today my life is nothing I ever wanted, nothing I ever expected, and nothing I ever planned . . . but to be honest, it's better than anything I ever once wanted. It's better than anything I could have ever planned. . . It's so much better and God is so faithful in working all things together for our good. I'm so thankful for God's grace and for His perfect timing on this year's birthday. 

May I always trust in His ways and in His timing . . . 

Just some thoughts I want to share today, 

You know what I mean? 

Mike 

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