Ah yes…. The Character Building years
The years of early adulthood where you learn that the key to survival is simply to survive. It’s the years of sacrificing your wants for your needs…. or sometimes your needs for your wants. It’s the years of car payments, eating Indian style on the floor because you don’t have furniture while you watch the same movies over and over again because you don’t have cable. It’s the years of sitting in the parking lot of McDonalds to use their free Wi-Fi so that you can log onto the internet to pay a bill because you don’t have the money for the stamp to mail in your check or the gas to drive directly to the place. Then you pray that the site really is secure so you don’t have to deal with identity theft. Not that they would have much to steal anyway. It’s packing everything that you own into a small little car and going to the next adventure because God says so. It’s sleeping in your car on long trips, because you’re exhausted and can’t afford a hotel room. It's living on a dream and doing what it takes to make your dream a reality.
Along with that… it’s the years of learning who you are. There’s a lot of trial and error of who you want to be in life. It’s making up your mind and changing your mind. It’s dreaming of where you’ll be in five years when you’re (hopefully) out of the character building years. It’s a lot of living in the moments and absorbing the innocence of beginnings. Just the same…it’s living out of the moments and planning for the future. Daydreaming takes up a lot of your time. You have a vision of your future and you're doing everything you can to get there.
But the best thing about the character building years is what you learn. You learn that money really isn’t everything. You learn that being with people is one of the best medicines to a lonely heart. Friends come in and out your life. You lose touch with old friends and gain touch with new friends. You find yourself turning to God for everything, and you rely of Him for directing your next steps. You learn that humility is one of the best things to keep your heart genuine and getting everything that you want is over rated. You learn to love what you have and to cling to what you love. Pride goes out the window in the character building years. You have to swallow it down without any water. There are many things that you need help with, and you have no choice but to graciously accept an offer from someone who lends it….then immediately brainstorming of the way that you want to bless them back for helping you. It’s giving and taking. It's encouraging others when they're discouraged....it's listening to others when you're discouraged.
It’s the years of making mental notes of all the paying it forward that you’ll be doing once you’re finally able to stand on your own two feet. These years inspire you to want to be that person who helps other people, because of all the people who have helped you. It’s training for understanding how others feel, because you’ve been there. They’re years of embarrassing moments, lots of laughing at yourself, and just knowing that you’re living in the moments that you’ll one day tell your grandchildren about. It’s the years of being molded by the Refiner’s fire, and then being the vessel that sails in the wide open waters and reaches the destination. It's loving life and EVERYTHING that comes with it. I wouldn’t change these years for anything, they’re a part of my life and who I am and who I’m going to be. These are the years that truly build your character.