I missed many of the milestones that I was supposed to reach in my life. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 18. I graduated college at 23, not 21. I’ve had more job interviews in my career field than I have had dates—one. My best efforts to begin a romantic relationship continue to be halted at the same age my sister and her husband had their first child.
Even if I was in a good mood, thinking about this annoyed me greatly. If I wasn’t in a good place, it haunted me. (I wasn’t often in that good of a place.) I found myself consistently thinking major cultural milestones defined me as a person. My successes and failures were a result of achieving—or not achieving—an arbitrary status by an arbitrary time.
But that’s completely wrong. It can fracture my confidence and mask my true identity as a Christian.
You and I are children of God. Our identity doesn’t come from milestones but from our Father in heaven. Take a moment and think about this. The God of all things, who made countless unique creations to walk this earth and stump our best efforts of understanding, has planned every detail of our lives. Just as God has planned the perfect angle and perfect speed for our planet to spin to keep us alive, He has planned a perfect series of events for our lives.
Don’t get me wrong—many of the events won’t seem perfect to us, and some will seem downright terrible. But when God’s plan is considered as a whole, it is perfect. If I live my life never going on a date, then it was never important enough to the mission God has given me to happen and I’m better without it.
The point is this: We can’t compare our life’s success or purpose to a list of events that really have no impact. Realizing this truth was a tremendous moment of growth for me.
But, there was a hitch: I still had the driving need to have milestones, to have something I used to mark progress in my life. So I made my own.
I began my career at 24, younger than many other college graduates in my social circles. On November 10th, I received the blessing of seeing my nephew baptized in front of his friends and family. I will be moving into a shared apartment early next year.
The beauty of these milestones is the stories behind them. I don’t have enough space to tell them here, but each one is about how God has worked and moved in my life and in the lives of my family members. The stories are unique to my life, as are the markers that make them so important.
Literal milestones let us know how far we’ve gone and how far we have yet to go. Figurative milestones allow us to see progress. I’m learning to put aside my expectations about what should happen (and when), and instead note what does happen and how God moved.
It’s all that matters anyway.