Today is one of my daughters’ eighteenth birthday. Legally, she’s an adult. Seriously, how did that happen?!?! Reflecting on this milestone birthday and her transition into a new season of discovering God’s purpose and shouldering new responsibilities, I asked myself what eighteen things I know now that I wish I had known and really grasped as wisdom when I was eighteen. There are so many! So, instead of one list of eighteen, it’s two:

18 Things I Wish I’d Known About Being a Christian at 18, and
18 Things I Wish I’d Known About Life and Relationships at 18.

Because she’s a girl, it’s written from a girl’s perspective. Sorry guys and moms of boys! But much of it is applicable, so go ahead, read it. You’ll be glad you did.

I’ll start with Jesus, because without Him, nothing else matters.

18 Things I Wish I’d Known about Being a Christian at 18

  1. Grace is God’s merciful kindness to influence our hearts to turn us to Jesus; we are saved by grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone.
  2. We don’t do anything to earn salvation; we can’t do anything to keep it or to lose it.
  3. You don’t have to get good for God. Just turn to Him; He’ll do the work of transforming you into who He wants you to be.
  4. Being a Christian is about relationship not religion: a love relationship with Jesus that God starts, and then His Holy Spirit in us gives us a love for Him and others.
  5. You can recognize religion by man’s rules.
  6. Salvation is not about good works; however, salvation does have evidence.
  7. God has a plan, even if you can’t see it, and everything He allows, He will use for your good.
  8. What you envision for your future may not be even close to what God envisions; God comes up with stuff we couldn’t imagine if we tried. Trust Him and be flexible to follow His lead, even if all He shows you is the very next step.
  9. Don’t worry if you don’t have it all figured out. He does, and He’s faithful.
  10. While you wait on God, do what He’s put right in front of you with excellence.
  11. God’s promises materialize when we meet His conditions.
  12. Sometimes, we wait on God for power to obey when it’s in the moment of obedience that we receive His power.
  13. Wait on God and not the thing you seek from Him. He may not do what you want or ask, but He will always be there. Stake your faith on Him and Him alone.
  14. Faith is a choice that takes practice. Once you trust God, He shows Himself faithful, and it’s easier to trust Him the next time and with bigger things. So go ahead, just trust Him.
  15. Sometimes the most honest thing we can pray is “Lord, I’m willing for You to make me willing!”
  16. Perfect to God isn’t sinless or flawless; it’s faithful. A perfect heart to God is one that is wholly devoted to Him.
  17. The only way to recognize a lie is to know the truth. Fall in love with the word of God, for it is Truth.
  18. Because it’s God’s merciful kindness that influences us to turn to Jesus, it’s by merciful kindness that we will have influence for Jesus.

18 Things I Wish I'd Known at 18

18 Things I Wish I’d Known about Life and Relationships at 18

  1. Some things just aren’t a big deal; let them go. A good question to ask is this: Does it have eternal value?
  2. Some things are a very big deal; fight for them. Fight for the things that have eternal value!
  3. We will never arrive while on his earth; we are always on the journey. The best route is God’s narrow path.
  4. The same right action might have a right and a wrong motive behind it.
  5. Balance is a farce. What we need is to be anchored in Christ.
  6. Chasing after empty things leaves you feeling empty.
  7. You can choose to be right or happy.
  8. Become who you want to attract. Don’t look for what you want in someone else as a way to get what you don’t have.
  9. Surround yourself with people that make you act and want to be more like Jesus.
  10. Guys may be easier to befriend, but girls are worth the effort, too.
  11. Girls really can make good friends, even if they don’t always act like good friends. Don’t repeat what you don’t like.
  12. Sometimes we learn how to be a good friend by having bad friend experiences.
  13. There may be a time when friendship with a guy friend becomes inappropriate, but you’ll always need your girlfriends.
  14. Attention from boys sure feels good, but it will never satisfy the romantic longing God puts in you for Him as the lover of your soul. Focus on loving Him and He’ll take care of the rest, in His time and in His way.
  15. Never neglect a girlfriend for a boyfriend. Chances are, she’ll outlast him.
  16. Friendship isn’t in quantity but quality; it’s not measured in number but time.
  17. Today’s friends may not be tomorrow’s, and sometimes the unlikeliest people become your closest friends.
  18. Learn to forgive and extend grace. That’s what Jesus does for us, and we don’t deserve it either.

So Happy Birthday to you, sweet daughter! May the wisdom the Lord has taught me through many difficult and painful lessons be yours as His gift to you right now.