26 Things in 26 Years


Well you guys, I think this is really becoming a thing now. Two years in a row shows consistency, yeah?

Last year I made the decision that I was going to try to put off my quarter life crisis for as long as possible (you guys I’m so olllldddd). While I haven’t made any sort of wild or impulsive decisions like a mid-life crisis stereotypically involves, this year has certainly weighed on me in a way that as resulted in some now-visible forehead wrinkles and eeeeven some hair loss, y’all. Hellooooo stress. (Also I think I’ve lived in Virginia long enough to be able to say ya’ll. I still find myself hesitant to say it but I really want to be part of the club.)

Oh, I was also diagnosed with TMJ this year. It’s really all downhill from here, isn’t it?

Okay WOW WHAT A DOWNER. To be completely honest, it really hasn’t been all bad. I’m still young and spry! But the Jocelyn who wrote her 25 Things last year had no idea what was coming for her. Some of the hardships that tied up my 25th year definitely trickled into my 26th. *But* there were so many sweet and life-giving things about it, too. If “rollercoaster” was used to describe one of my years, this would without-a-doubt be one of them. I’ve learned some things during this trip around the sun - some themes that I really hold dear. And because of those aforementioned new forehead wrinkles, I think that means I might now be able to impart at least some wisdom through these life lessons.

So here they are: 26 Things in 26 Years

1. I learned that I’m an Enneagram 9 (without. a. doubt.) and the giftings & challenges that come along with that. (yes, we’re off to a good start. If the Enneagram bug hasn’t bitten you yet, you need to hop onto this party bus.) This new information has really benefited me as I try to navigate how I best grow, or the characteristics & behaviors that come up when I’m stressed. I learned that my voice and my presence matter and are needed. Yay for better self awareness!

2. I’ve learned that diving more into faulty core beliefs, lies, and woundedness (along with how deep those things go & how they affect my current reality) is really hard. But it allows for such grace from the grace-Giver to flood in and heal.

3. I learned that while I’m really starting to find my voice (huge for a 9), that doesn’t mean I have to stand in the line of fire or take every swing against me. Finding and using my voice doesn’t mean I’m indestructible. I can choose when to use my voice and when to remove myself from a situation. Stand up, yes, but also realize when the fight is worth it and when it isn’t.

4. I learned that hardships are a way for God to set the stage for something else. Nothing is wasted. God doesn’t have a dark side. All things are for good. He doesn’t tease, and He brings all things to light. He is Light itself. (1 John 1)

5. I learned that I never want to put anything on too high of a pedestal that when it falls, it crushes me. There are many good things in life, but they’re not ultimate things.

6. I’ve learned to ask for help. It’s good to not only ask for help for accountability but to also simply say “hey, I’m not okay.” Receive help. Take a break.

7. I’ve learned & thought more about the concept of both/and. You don’t need to be in the clear of a painful situation in order to experience joy and celebration. Pain and joy can happen simultaneously. There’s room for both. It’s both/and. It’s hard to live in that tension sometimes, but thankfully, Jesus can still meet you there, in the midst of both things.

8. I learned more about my own limitedness. Part of this year involved being in a season of having so many different spinning plates. Sometimes you need someone to look you in the face and say “everything about you - physically, mentally, emotionally -  is telling you to stop.” I’m thankful someone did. Limitedness is okay and points us back to Jesus. Part of humility is just that: owning what you need to own while acknowledging your limits as a human.

9. I learned simply to trust and obey. Amidst all of the questions, all of the swirling + madness, all of the unknowns. I just need to trust, zakar, remember who God is in any and all circumstances and simply obey and say “yes” to whatever He may have for me.

10. I learned more about truly having the right view of who God is. That’s a given, right? But I’m not talking about it in the sense of questioning my faith in Jesus and who He is, but rather taking a look at how often I project false perceptions on Him based on my own painful or finite experiences. (I.E. He’ll respond to me with disappointment or shame because that’s what I’ve experienced from other people vs. Him looking towards me with delight as His child.) Sometimes we have to ask if we have the wrong God. I don’t want a God who I’ve formed in my own mind. I want the One who is.

11. I learned and thought more about God’s glory. Here’s a great podcast that caused me to think about this topic in new ways. All things are for His purposes & His glory. This caused me to ask how I can - even in the midst of questions and unknowns - trust His greater purpose and give Him glory in all things, both big and small.

12. I learned how harmful and unhealthy it is to live in light of other’s expectations of who you are, who you need to be, and what decisions you need to make. It’s not freeing. But it has taught me to fiercely pursue being fully, authentically and unapologetically myself.

13. I learned more about the benefit of having solid women in my life. Ones who know me deeply. Ones who are in various life stages and can easily and wisely speak into the one I’m in. Ones who will be willing to tell me hard truths but will also give so much grace when the one being hard on me is myself.

14. I learned that perseverance doesn’t mean you’re able to handle any & every hard thing without difficulty. Perseverance implies that there has been difficulty, yet you press on despite those things. Perseverance is evidence of hardship. Just like courage implies that some sort of fear is involved. So while I don’t feel very much strength or that I’m persevering, I can look to Jesus who has given me His strength to do so.

15. I learned that I have the ability to “show up” and voice my opinions, as well as carry them out. Having a go-with-the-flow personality doesn’t have to equate to merging with other people’s thoughts & opinions. And you know what, dang it, that’s a great thing. (sorry not sorry that there are so many lessons related to my growth as a 9)

16. I learned that I put I high value on other’s insight. I don’t desire to make any sort of decision out of impulsivity, and there’s such a benefit to having key people to word vomit to. And at the end of the day, I’m free to execute my own resolution. Gather wisdom. Glean from others.

17. I am comfortable in the gray. Certain things are black and white, but often times, that’s not how life works. Sometimes you just need to navigate the in between and take the bad with the good - the messy with the meticulous. And that’s okay.

18. I learned that it’s exhausting to have to fight to be heard, but what matters is staying true to myself. Know your worth. If you’re made to feel like you have to fight to be heard, let it be a realization that the recipient may not be worthy to hear you.

19. I learned that sometimes you need to bawl your eyes out in a good friend’s bed. It’s okay to fall apart sometimes.

20. I learned that the end of something doesn’t equate to a fail. The positive moments and important lessons learned along the way are still valuable and aren’t meant to be cast aside. What I mean is, just because you experience an end of something, it doesn’t negate the valuable lessons the Lord taught you along the way. The two can be isolated truths; one doesn’t invalidate the other.

21. I learned that books and podcasts have really become my “things”. I’ve had more and more people coming to me for recommendations for both. And you know, I don’t hate it. I love sharing and cheering on the creators I love!

22. I learned that I don’t have to shrink back in fear when it comes to taking a chance on things - specifically creative projects - that I know I’d enjoy. I can jump into something new, without hesitancy, and with an attitude of “why not?” all while telling my fears that they can hit the road. Who cares if it doesn’t go perfectly? Who cares if you change your mind later and do something else? Just go for it. I plan to do more of that in my 27th year.

23. I’ve learned to pursue more minimalism (can I say that? is that an oxymoron?) in a number of different ways - now encouraged by Cozy Minimalist Home -  and I’ve learned how freeing it is to stick to the essentials, specifically in my living space. Also how fun is it to find your own style?!

24. I’ve learned that even seemingly perfect & idealistic situations can’t pale in comparison to what God has instead. Even when it seems so clear that things will go one way, be open to the chance of the Lord intending something different.

25. I’ve learned to continue to trust and truly believe that God’s Word is more true than my circumstances, and to choose with my will to walk by faith instead of feelings.

26. I’ve learned - or rather, awakened to - the enormous need for Biblical literacy in our culture today. It’s grown to be a huge and urgent burden on my heart, and I plan to do something about that this year.

I cried a lot this year. Rejoiced a lot this year. Felt alone this year. Felt belittled. Felt empowered. And in all these things, I’ve experienced the sweetness of Jesus all the more.


In an effort to show you just a small piece of that sweetness, I wanted to share a handful of answered prayers (I had written each of these in my notebook this year) :

• Increased monthly support
• That students would come to faith this year (praises!)
• Clarity + direction
• I’ve been wanting a community of women outside of Cru for years now, and that came true this year! So thankful for the women’s Bible study I’m attending.
• That I would become more passionate about specific callings.
• That I would know more of what it means to listen + answer God.
• That I would be even less inhibited to make decisions (slowly but surely - had a lot of opportunities to grow in that this year)
• That my walk with Jesus would be even stronger
•That I would have given thanks in all things.

Just look at the faithfulness of God.


Jocelyn Hepler