by Peace Amadi
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.
I have a personal vendetta against Forbes 30 under 30.
Okay, I actually don’t. But I’m weary of lists that center age as “the” accomplishment. I’m not sure why starting a business “at 27” is any more celebrated than starting a business at 57. Both are hard. Both take work. Both take strategy, sacrifice, and probably a disorienting amount of sleepless nights. I’m weary of what the world, in general, preaches is good for you, right for you, and is the right time for you.
As a professor, coach, and mentor to many, I’ve witnessed firsthand how society’s expectations of what we should have in our lives—and by when—affects us. How it demoralizes us. How it robs us of courage, joy, and motivation. How it assaults our self-esteem and sense of self-worth. How it becomes a driving force in our lives and the inflection point of our decisions. I’ve worked with people making themselves sick from social media comparisons because of this. People saying “no” to discovering their God-given purpose because they’re in their 40’s and apparently life as we know it ends there. I’ve known people who’ve run to the altar to marry unsuitable partners because they feel they’re running out of time. In fact, every friend I have sensed this for is now divorced. I don’t celebrate this, but I do think it points to what I suspect. We aren’t just living in the world, we’re living for it.
And this doesn’t serve us.
I have my own stories as well. When I hit 30, the pressure to get married was officially on. Not from my immediate family, who want everything and more for me, just not at the risk of my health, happiness, and sanity. The pressure came from everywhere else. From some extended family who told me I was running out of time. From some friends who told me my expectations were too high. (This, mind you, after I’d explained I was ending a relationship with a functional alcoholic. I’d caught a whiff of his water bottle one afternoon during his kid’s dance recital and realized it wasn’t water at all, it was alcohol. I soon realized he didn’t want freedom from his problem so much as better strategies for hiding it from everyone. And deception is one thing I can’t do. But he’s nice. But he loves you. But you’re getting older, they said. Sometimes well meaning friends give terrible advice!)
Then there was the pressure from the church, which collectively often implied that young love and marriage was God’s plan for our lives. Apparently singleness after thirty falls short of Gods’ glory.
I’ve made wrong decisions in my life, but I’ve also made good ones. Ending an unhealthy relationship (even though it meant being single in my 30s) was one of them. But it didn’t mean I didn’t feel anxious. I was still living in a world with expectations on my life that I hadn’t met.
Acknowledging my anxiety was an important first step. In fact it was crucial. All of our emotions serve an important message. Sometimes they point back to our raw, unresolved areas. Sometimes they point back to our deep wounds and needs. Sometimes, they point back to disconnects or misalignment in our lives. The latter was the case for me.
What the world expected of my life was not God’s current priority. My anxiety, in this case, was a product of not fully accepting that. Yes, he wanted me to find love - that was the deepest desire of my heart - but I could feel him creating so much more momentum elsewhere. I didn’t totally understand it. But I felt it. I felt him pulling me deeper into his purpose for my life, into my impact and influence, and deeper into trusting that in time, my most intimate desires would also be met. I felt his invitation to lean more into his expectations than everyone else’s. Then I came across 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 which reads:
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”
In deep reflection, I got the sense that my story, and specifically the timing of the moments of my life, would serve a greater purpose than just making me happy. God would use my story to validate the experiences of many. God would use my story to break stereotypes and society’s singular expectations. God would use my story to challenge one dimensional views of women of faith. Indeed, God would use my story to nullify the things that are and to show His glory.
I felt it deep in my spirit and down in my bones. With my faith firmly rooted in God, I was NOT missing out on any life milestones.
I can say now with certainty that in thinking all of these things, I was on to something. I look forward to sharing the turn of events that have transpired in my world since my early 30’s. At the right time, of course.
Peace Amadi, PsyD, is a psychology professor, coach, content creator, and author of the new book Why Do I Feel Like This? Understand Your Difficult Emotions and Find Grace to Move Through which is available for order at amazon.com and ivpress.com. You can stay connected with her on Instagram at @itspeaceamadi