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20 Things You Should Know Before You're 30

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  • 2013 Sep 27

Thirty barreled into my life before I even heard the warning whistle. After all, the previous decades had plenty of important milestones to look forward to. In my teens, there would be high school and licenses and voting. In my twenties, there would be college graduation and marriage and new careers. But my thirties? They came fast and hunkered in. I’d been told it was something of a wasteland, the point when you’re not really sure where you are—just that you’re old.

You know what I say to that now? Balderdash. My toe-dipping into the thirties has been a season of reflection and growth, a time when I can look back and see how much God has transformed me and given grace. And that’s the same attitude Debra K. Fileta has in her advice for the trintigenarians out there (or any age, for that matter):

But more, I’m filled with excitement. It has been an adventure, to be sure, and I’ve had the privilege of watching God at work in my life in so many ways. I’m excited to see what the next years hold.

There are many things I know at 30 that I didn’t know at 20.

I’ve had the chance to reflect on the past 10 years of my life, and I realized there are many things I know at 30 that I didn’t know at 20.

What does she now know?

3. It doesn’t matter what people think of you, and you can’t please everyone. Often, your twenties are defined by living a roller coaster life, allowing the choices and decisions of others affect you rather than taking control of your own life. It’s sad to say that so many years are spent defining yourself by others, instead of for the sake of who God has called you to be.

7. You should value your parents. You will make the same mistakes as they did. The older you get, the more you realize your own flaws, and it helps you have grace for the flaws of others. We’ve all gotten to that moment where we realize that in so many ways we are just like our parents.

16. Life doesn’t always turn out how you expect. But it still turns out just right. I know so many things have not happened on my time frame nor in the way I expected them to. But looking back, God’s time frame was so much better than mine. I’m learning to trust that He is good and that He really knows best.

In other words, there are milestones for the thirties. It’s a time for God-focused course corrections and reflection on who we are in Christ. For many of us, the decade brings us face to face with the painful growth that comes from silence, those times when we assume God isn’t speaking. That’s something Dr. James Emery White addressed:

When I go through seasons where God’s answers do not come quickly or on the surface of things - when the way God interacts with my prayers draws me deeper into Him for guidance and trust, dependence and obedience - the answers I find radically transcend what I initially sought to find.

I get introduced to sin that I needed to confront;

...patterns of behavior I needed to break;

...insight into who I am that I didn’t have before;

...and depths of relationship with God that I had never experienced.

Such revelations are worth the silence, for in such silence came the voice of God.

What about you? What advice would you give to your younger self?

John UpChurch is the senior editor of and You’ll usually find him downing coffee at his standing desk (like a boss).