Feeling Formed

Feeling Formed

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I've been hanging around the Boundless world almost since Boundless started. Seriously, at one point I was the proud owner of a print copy of "The Best of Boundless," done up to commemorate the site's first anniversary in 1999. And I picked that one up when it was hot off the press. I've contributed an article here and there, and popped in for a podcast or two. Now I'm glad to be joining the ranks of Boundless bloggers and having some good conversations with you all. 

Here's one reason I'm excited about starting these discussions: Having survived my 20s, I look back and realize how monumental that decade was to who I am as an adult. I just wish someone had told me two things about the 20-something decade: 

1) The "adult formation" that takes place during your 20s is sometimes tumultuous and, frankly, exhausting. And it's normal. It's the work we're supposed to be about. 

2) All of that tumult eventually comes to an end, thank God. 

I was taken by surprise on both counts. I don't think I had fair warning that a primary goal of my 20s should be to work out, in very practical ways, my identity. On the other hand, once I was in the middle of it, it felt like the process would go on forever.

And then, one day, I realized that the dizzying motion had stopped. 

I was 30 years old, and I'd been married for a little over three years. I flew to San Antonio to visit a dear friend whom I'd known since I was 13. After spending some time with the high school girls she was leading in Bible study, we started talking about how they were just beginning — in very dramatic and not very wise ways, some of them — the roller coaster of discovering who God had made them to be. And by comparison, we realized that we had finally exited that crazy cycle.

We felt ... well ... formed. 

Not that we were finished. We both know that the Christian life is bigger than that, and God will always have something more for us. ("Higher up and further in," as C.S. Lewis puts it.) But we no longer felt as if every day was filled with the angst of questioning, testing and proving who we were. And it felt good. 

I've recently become a fan of Meg Jay and her work on adult formation during the 20-something years. Her research bears out what my friend and I were feeling in that early-30s memory: When we make it our business to spend our 20s making good decisions and good investments of our time and energy, it pays off. We turn into adults who are well-established in our identities. (And though Jay doesn't say so, that's exponentially true when our identities are founded on Christ.) 

So that's why I'm excited to be here — to walk with you through some of the identity-forming questions of your 20s. Let's start with these: What has been the most tumultuous part of discovering who God made you to be? Is there light at the end of the tunnel for you, or do you still feel like you've been caught up in the wave and you can't set your feet on the ground? 

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  • --Hi Lindy good thoughts and though some people might be formed by their 30's, its not always that the tumultuous times kind of go away. They still remain in some shape or form and though you don't scream and shout like a early 20's person does but it is still is hard and this might not be bad as that's where a lot of us find we grow, where God has our attention. I feel as a Christian  we need to be formed everyday no matter what age or phase of life we are at, formed in the likeness of our savior. So we can't say a curtain age or phase will make life easier but we need to remember the Lord is refining us because we need refining.

  • --This article is very encouraging. I'm in my mid-twenties right now, and was hoping that all of life wouldn't be this difficult, with changing directions every few days it seems, and struggling through developing a direction and convictions for the life God wants me to lead. I know that each stage of life has its own struggles, but I'm glad it is not these struggles all the way through :).

    As for Lindy's questions, I think the whole marriage/singleness question has been the most tumultuous thing I've struggled with. Still firmly single and desiring marriage, I can say that it has benefited me greatly to not have things go according to my plans. It has taught me that I don't get to decide when I'm done, and the fact that God's will is best, understand and agree or not. Bowing in submission and praise is probably one of the hardest lessons my sinful heart has had to learn, and when I pay attention to the lessons, they don't end, but they do get easier.

  • -- just a heads up, for many people it doesn't stop in your 30s. i made some pretty good decisions in my 20s, and my life is as unstable and unsure as it ever was in my 20s; in some ways more so. you're speaking from the point of view of someone who's achieved what they desperately hoped they would—marriage. imagine how you'd feel if you were still single and still wondering if you'll ever get married.

  • Thank you for this. I just had a recent discussion with my mother that correlates. I have been feeling very restless and unsettled in my life and she said she also felt that way until her mid thirties. What suprised me most to hear her say this is that my mother is one of the rare people who knew what she wanted to do when she graduated high school, got her bachelor's degree in that field, and has stayed in it for over 30 years. She was also married at 22, unlike single 25 year old me. I was a bit relieved to hear that what I am feeling is normal and not just a result of being single or in the wrong job.

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