As my Father in Law once said to me, "Life is not a race to the end, it's a journey". As my children grow up and one by one begin their journey I think about how prepared they are for it. My youngest daughter is turning 18 next month. She is my 7th child to hit this landmark age. I've been thinking about when my older children turned 18 and the life lessons I had/have hoped they understand as they begin their journey into adulthood. I decided to start writing these things down. I’d like to think the things I’ve written are basic character traits I’ve instilled in my children over the years. It is a list of advice I’ve tried to pass on to them. It’s not a comprehensive list and I’m sure not everyone would agree on the best advice to give an 18 year old, but this is just my own personal list. I wrote this list down as it came to me; they are not in any particular order.
25 Things to Contemplate When Turning 18
1. Becoming 18 does not automatically make you an adult, in the eyes of the law it means you are now responsible for your own debt and actions. Becoming an adult takes time.
2. Your relationship with God is most important.
3. Think before you act, do my choices in life honor God, honor my parents, and lead me in a direction that God wants me go?
4. Don’t spend your time worrying about having a boyfriend/girlfriend. God has a plan for you and this is the time in your life to focus on Him, your relationship with Him and that plan. Move forward in your life, follow your dreams, be passionate and work hard to achieve them. Wait patiently on God’s timing for the right person for your life.
5. Remember no one owes you anything. If you want something in life you must figure out how to make it happen. Allow God to lead you.
6. Never stop learning. Read books, explore topics that interest you. Always be learning and increasing in knowledge.
7. Read your Bible. Never stop learning and increasing in knowledge about our Lord & Savior and His Word.
8. Be content with where God has you for the moment. The desire to be on your own, do your own thing, provide for yourself is normal. Be patient to work towards these goals but on God’s time frame. The second part that goes right along with contentment is learn to make the most of your life with what you have, right where God has you for the moment.
9. Take care of your responsibilities and work hard. Hard work is not something to avoid it’s something to embrace. Whatever goals you make understand it will take work to get there.
10. Understand the value of TRUST. Be a person others can trust. Trust that is broken is very hard to regain.
11. Pray often! Pray for others; keep a prayer journal that is filled with the thoughts and prayers of loved ones, friends and those in need. Focus less on yourself and more on others.
12. Be generous. Be Generous in love, generous in forgiveness, generous in longsuffering, generous with encouragement to others, generous with your time & finances.
13. Be Kind. The world is a rough place. Many people hurt and are struggling with issues that no one sees. Every day in every way you are able take time to show kindness to others.
14. Don’t be afraid to think “outside the box” in life. Be an independent thinker. It is ok to go against societal norms if you feel God is leading you in that direction. Just make sure your choices reflect #3.
15. Be wise with your finances. All that you have comes from God; prayerfully consider how to use your money.
16. Be willing to say, “I’m sorry” if a situation requires it. Be humble and admit when you are wrong. Life is not about always proving we are right.
17. Mistakes in life are unavoidable. We have all made them. We can either chose to let them bring us down or we can learn from them. No matter what the mistake is, learn from it, ask God for forgiveness and commit to walking forward having learned from it.
18. Be thankful always, no matter the situation. Life will have its ups and downs. At times life will seem like a walk in the park on a sunny day and at other times life will make you feel as though you are being tossed about on a turbulent stormy sea. Always hang onto God. And every day give God thanks! Don’t get caught up in a vortex of self-pity… Look to God, give thanks to Him and ask for guidance. God is good.. all the time.
19. Love is a choice. Choose to love daily and allow the love of God to flow through you, even in difficult situations.
20. Pray for wisdom. God has said in his Word that he will give wisdom to those that ask. Desire and pray for godly wisdom. Avoid the wisdom of this world and pray for God’s wisdom and direction.
21. Learn to make a really good cup of coffee (or tea). Many heartfelt memories with others in your life will come over a good cup of coffee.
22. . Know how to cook a meal, or rather many meals. As in #21 many heartfelt memories with others will come to you over a good home cooked meal. Not to mention that it is also practical and economical to know how to cook and not be at the mercy of fast food.
23. Know what you believe and why and stand firm. The loss of a friend, event, or opportunity in life that goes against what you believe is not worth stepping away from your convictions and beliefs
24. On a practical note, make sure you learn how to change a flat tire, check and be able to change the oil in your car.
25. Spend time serving others. This can be as simple as your family right in your home or your next door neighbor, your community, your church. Be willing to give of your time and talents as you can.